Northeast Harbor jewelry maker and sculptor Sam Shaw is one of two recipients of the Maine Crafts Association’s (MCA) 2015 Master Craft Artist Award.
Recipients are chosen for their “excellence in craftsmanship, inspired design, a singular voice or style and a career of service to the field,” according to the MCA.
Shaw and this year’s other award recipient, book artist Rebecca Goodale of Freeport, were selected by Somesville writer and art critic Carl Little, who won the 2009 MCA award for supporters of craft in Maine.
Sadie Bliss, executive director of the MCA, described Shaw’s jewelry and sculpture as “always impeccably designed and executed.”
“He was one of the early adapters of beach stone jewelry, beginning a career-long interest in precious versus non-precious materials and focusing on the contrast and juxtaposition of seemingly opposite elements,” Bliss wrote.
“Shaw’s beautiful and coveted twig jewelry line continues this exploration. His figurative sculpture and jewelry collection uses vintage porcelain doll parts, rearranging them into figures of perversity.”
Shaw has served as president of both the Maine Crafts Association and the Society of North American Goldsmiths. His jewelry store and gallery is on Main Street in Northeast Harbor.
“I feel greatly honored to be acknowledged by my peers,” Shaw said. “I am deeply humbled to be called a master. When I see the skill of those before me, whose objects are part of our historical dialog, or contemporary artists whose skill far eclipses my own, I am keenly aware of how far short of the title ‘master’ I am.”
As for what distinguishes him as an artist and craftsman, Shaw said he is “an expert at embracing the bad idea.”
“I have never been afraid to make work that I might be embarrassed to show,” he said. “Often … pieces that were the riskiest and did not turn out well became pivot points of discovery. Without risk taking, growth is difficult.”
Shaw said he is proud to support other artists by including their work in his gallery.
“One of my greatest joys is writing checks to the artists who show with me,” he said. “I have been the lubricant that helps sustain the livelihood of my artists and enhances the lives of my customers.”
Shaw will be presented the Master Craft Artist Award at an MCA reception May 15 at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Deer Isle.