My cabinet: Haystack / Maine
A creative refuge for its students as much as its faculty and staff, the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts has its own nourishing natural rhythm.
Perched on a small island just off the coast of Maine, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, Haystack is quiet almost by design: the birds seem to chirp louder and the pine trees rustle longer. For the artists and makers who spend their summers here partaking in open-studio residencies and workshops spanning disciplines from
ceramics to blacksmithing, the school’s sense of community is also a major draw. “Haystack is isolated, not isolating,” says executive director Perry Price. Designed by US architect Edward Larrabee Barnes in 1961, the school – known for its summer residencies, programmes and workshops – is the type of place where creative types go to escape everyday life. “We welcome people from all over the world so that they can be engaged with what they’re doing and be focused in the studio,” says Price. “But the experience is very communal: we come together for meals and for presentations by faculty.”
These close bonds formed between students, studio technicians and office co-ordinators are, according to Price, what set the school apart from other institutions. “There’s an incredible amount of attention paid to this gem of an architectural campus,” he says, pointing towards the maze of cedar-shingled cabins overlooking the bay. “But this place is really about the people: our board, staff, the faculty that teach here, the constituents that come here to take courses and the community of people that supports us.”
When monocle visits the campus, the Haystack team is preparing for the start of this year’s summer session, with artists working in ceramics, fibreglass, metal and wood. “We wake up the campus during the spring, welcome the world over the summer and, when the autumn comes, we close everything again and go into a reflective period,” says Price. “The place has its own rhythms, its own lifecycles – it’s something that we should emulate in our own lives as well.” Price, who joined the team earlier this year, is looking forward to finding his own role in that cycle. “There’s an incredible sense of entering into the history of a place and knowing that you are a momentary caretaker for a thing that has had a life prior to you,” he says. “Hopefully a long life after as well.”
The Cabinet (from left to right)
Works in the studio spaces and maintains the equipment.
Price grew up in Denver and studied at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. He was executive director of the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft in Texas before he joined Haystack. “I’ve always been interested in the way that art is fabricated and in the intersection between making and design, so craft was a natural avenue for me,” he says. “What’s remarkable about this field is the people.”
Fab Lab community assistant
Designs and facilitates programmes showing people how to use 3D printers, laser cutters, digital embroidery machines and more to empower them to create projects using digital fabrication.
Oversees Haystack’s Fab Lab, a digital fabrication studio [established in partnership with the mit’s Center for Bits and Atoms] that integrates technology with craft.
Programmes & studio co-ordinator
Connects, collects, organises and processes. Then ensures that all this information properly translates into the studio space and workshop experience that the faculty and participants are hoping for.
Development & database co-ordinator
Keeps the data. Manages the school’s database of donors and programme participants. On a day-to-day basis, Molly processes donations, works on mailings and stares at many, many spreadsheets.
Digital content editor
Shares the stories of Haystack’s artists, staff, history and community with the world.
Loves working in a beautiful place and being mostly outside.
Former deputy director (retired)
Loves that Haystack fosters a creative spirit with a sauce of learning, doing and nature.
Bich Nguyen Nguyen
Communicates with participants about programme acceptances, campus housing and travel.
Assists in the maintenance of campus systems and infrastructure.
The finder, passer and keeper of the little details that keep Haystack up and running.
Promotes Haystack and helps steward its award-winning campus and programming through marketing, fundraising and by recording and sharing historical institutional information that honours the foundation, attends to the present and plans for the future.
Does carpentry and trail work with a splash of maintenance.