2020 Master Craft Artist Award Pin by Ebenezer Akakpo
Each year the MCA commissions an award pin to made by a fellow MCA artist. The pins are commissioned after the awardee has been identified allowing the pin maker to customize the design with the artist in mind. The pins are revealed at the award presentation. The 2020 pin was made by Ebenezer Akakpo and features a design based on the Adinkra symbol for “power and strength of the creator”. Akakpo is a Portland-based craft artist and industrial designer creating jewelry, clothing and home goods featuring patterns using traditional Adinkra symbols and visual language from his native Ghana. His designs bring together his cultural history, skills and techniques acquired through his education at MECA and Rochester Institute of Design, and his passion for promoting social justice. Ebenezer is a MCA member represented in MCA's galleries and craft shows and active in the Portland and Maine art and craft community.

The Maine Crafts Association (MCA), a statewide non-profit organization promoting the work of Maine’s craft artists, has named blacksmith artist Douglas E. Wilson of Little Deer Isle, Maine as the 2020 recipient of the MCA Master Craft Artist Award. The award recognizes Wilson’s outstanding body of work, his dedication to craft organizations, passion for arts in education, and a long-time commitment to sharing his craft with young people.

The 2020 MCA Master Craft Award selection began with a public nomination process. The 2020 recipient was selected by Susan Joy Sager, owner and founder of Art Biz, and the author of ‘Selling Your Crafts’ and ‘Creative Careers In Crafts.’ Sager had this to say of her selection:

“Although there are easily a dozen craft artists I could have selected for this award, I have selected Douglas Wilson as this year’s winner. Not only did Doug meet and exceed all of the criteria for the award, he was nominated by ten of his peers, several of whom are master craftspeople themselves.

I first met Doug when I began working at Haystack as the Assistant Director in the early 90’s. He had been part of a committee who managed the school during the season before Stuart Kestenbaum became the new Director. I quickly learned that not only was he a master craftsperson himself, he was extremely active in the craft field and a generous teacher who loved sharing his time and knowledge. Years later I stopped by his studio with my son and Doug patiently produced an iron leaf explaining what he was doing and presenting it as a gift to my son before we left.”

Doug has been a professional blacksmith since 1981 when Ron Pearson, a nationally known metalsmith, took Doug under his wing and offered him a free blacksmithing studio for his personal use with the condition that he pass on opportunities to other aspiring smiths in the future. According to one of his nominators, “he has remained true to his word and never stopped giving back.”

Nationally, Doug has been an active member of ABANA, the Artist Blacksmith Association of North America, hosting regional meetings at his studio, leading workshops, presenting programs at conferences, serving on committees, contributing articles sharing his knowledge through a series on the fundamental processes of forged ironwork for ABANA magazine, plus developing training programs for smiths and employing smiths as apprentices. One of his many nominators writes, “he is the go-to individual for advice”.

On the state level, Doug has been an active member of the Maine Crafts Association serving as Board member and Vice President, Chair of the Maine Arts Commission Advisory Crafts Panel, founder and instructor of the Colby College Blacksmithing Program and the Wooden Boat School Blacksmithing for Board Builders program.  He has also served on local boards such as the Island Heritage Trust and Bagaduce Chorale.

As an educator, he began his career as an Instructor in Jewelry and Metals at the Madison Area Technical College in Wisconsin. Since then he has taught 100+ workshops all over the country at places such as Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, Penland School of Crafts, Peters Valley, and the New England School of Metalwork. He has participated in the Maine Craft Apprentice Program (CAP) as a master teaching an apprentice as well as served on the CAP selection panel.  According to another nominator, “I have seen few people as dedicated to sharing their knowledge as Doug.”

Doug’s ironwork has been widely exhibited and is of the highest quality in execution and design. He has developed a distinctive style based on natural forms found in the environment. He has exhibited at the National Ornamental Metals Museum, Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, and the Fuller Craft Museum. He has also been selected for several Percent for Art Commissions. His work ranges from functional pieces such as candlesticks and wall sconces, fences and gates, fireplace tools, and grates to sculptures. According to another of his nominators, “one of his greatest accomplishments is the blending of contemporary images with traditional methods and processes found in a historic forge.”

“Inspiration comes to me from many sources. Careful observation and study of the natural environment informs me. The nature of the materials, hot iron, and steel, and their responses to being worked certainly are manifest. What are the characteristics of a project and of both the built and the natural environments where a project will reside? Often, coming to know my clients and how they will live with the work I make becomes significant in my designing. I believe that these objects I have made help illuminate the narrative of who we are, where we come from, what we believe in, and what is unique or special about the places we call home.” — Douglas E. Wilson

The 2020 Master Craft Artist was announced live on the Maine Crafts Association Facebook page on July 27, 2020. Click this link to view the announcement and video.

For images and more information contact emily@mainecrafts.org

Please also see www.WilsonForge.com to view examples of Doug’s work.