The film follows Woell for six years through his teaching at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts on Deer Isle, ME, and its mentorship programs, and places him in a rightfully significant place as one of the first craft artists who opened the door to using found objects to comment on the times. Through interviews with historic and contemporary curators, artists and writers we learn about Woell’s underlying convictions: to protect the environment, to fight against fascism, to respect all, particularly native peoples. His work is a politically progressive story, seen within the context of the history of American crafts, that speaks of his deeply held beliefs and his impact as an artist, a teacher and a mentor.
Interviewed includes: Paul Smith, curator and former director of the Museum of Contemporary Crafts, NY; Helen Drutt, Philadelphia gallerist, curatorial consultant and educator; Glenn Adamson, former director of the Museum of Arts and Design, NY; Patricia Wheeler, artist and Fred’s wife; Rosanne Raab, curator of craft and design; Robert Shetterly, artist and political writer; and several top metalsmiths: Eleanor Moty, Claire Sanford, Tim McCreight, Jim Cotter, and Sarah Doremus.
As an artist who believed in the power of art to call attention to attitudes and issues of the day, this film goes well beyond the interest of other artists. His work is one that calls upon all of us to make a better world.