J. Fred Woell: An American Vision is a new documentary by Richard Kane with Robert Shetterly about the history and significance of this metalsmith, jeweler and political artist.

J. Fred Woell: An American Vision captures the essence of a political artist who believed deeply in the power of the creative spirit.  In 1965 J. Fred Woell took his cast silver jewelry to New York City galleries and was turned down flat.  "Use gold or forget it," they said.  As a confirmed contrarian, Woell vowed to make jewelry from materials of no value -- and the term "anti-jewelry" was born.  Nearly 50 years later he was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society of North American Goldsmiths.

Join our nationwide EDUCATIONAL SCREENING CAMPAIGN TOUR to share Fred's story.  This film  educates and engages audiences through interviews with historic and contemporary curators, artists and writers on topics that are timely and powerful. Experience J.Fred Woell’s politics through his art: protect the environment, fight against fascism and respect for all people.

“Fantastic! ...
a really important film!”
— Barbara Gifford, Curator, Museum of Arts and Design


In 2015 Haystack announced that an endowment fund - to honor J. Fred Woell (1934–2015), a longtime Haystack friend, former staff member, and instructor – was initiated by family and friends of Fred. With $15,000 raised to date through many donors, fundraising is ongoing with plans to close the scholarship at the 2018 Annual Gala. Once fully funded, the J. Fred Woell Scholarship will support a student whose work is reflective of the thought-provoking spirit and political satire that characterized Fred’s work for decades. The scholarship will provide tuition, room & board, and when fully funded, will be awarded annually.

J. Fred Woell: An American Vision captures the essence of a man who believed deeply in the power of the creative spirit. As an artist he was an innovator and a rule-breaker. As a teacher he encouraged his students to make their own discoveries.... In this inspiring film we are fortunate to witness a part of that journey.

— Stuart Kestenbaum, Former Director, Haystack Mountain School of Crafts
Another profoundly moving portrait. You bring us the “inner stuff” of these amazing people.
— Lindsay Newland Bowker, Stonington, ME

Find out more about our impact campaign

Screen the film in your community, school or museum and spark timely conversations around Fred's work and political vision

This film is sponsored by the Union of Maine Visual Artists with promotional co-sponsorship by WERU Community Radio, 89.9 FM, Blue Hill, Maine.