University Crafts Professor, Student Win 'NICHE' Magazine Awards

Don Miller wins 'Educator of the Year'; Matthew Phillips takes student award in 'Wood' category

February 22, 2010

University of the Arts Assistant Crafts Professor Don Miller and Crafts senior Matthew Phillips – using the pseudonym Mantile Dartium – each came away a winner in the annual NICHE magazine awards that were announced last week at the Buyers Market of American Craft at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

Miller, whose sculpture and furniture works are inspired by a broad range of historical woodworking practices and have been shown in New York, Boston and the upper Midwest, was selected from among more than 150 finalists as the NICHE Arts Educator of the Year. The Arts Educator of the Year is nominated by students who enter their artwork in our NICHE Awards contest.  NICHE looks for educators who have been nominated more than once or by more than one student participant, and takes into consideration the students' comments (if any are submitted). Niche is hoping that the students lead them to professors who are influential in their support of fine handcrafts, in helping the students understand the demands of mastery, and in guiding the students to unlocking the doors of creativity.

Phillips, a native of Blauvelt, N.Y., won the student award in the "Wood" category for his piece "A Reference to the Subjectivity of a Genius" (right).  Materials/methods: Turning, Grinding, Lamination, Blown Glass, Glass

Additional comments by the artist: A lack of understanding of what came/comes before birth. This piece is a solid object of an idea that has the consistency of water. Looking at it, we can see fourteen syringes plunged into what resembles an androgynous human head.

The NICHE Awards program began in 1990 to recognize excellence and innovation in the United States and Canadian fine craft industry. Professional and student craft artists submitted nearly 2,000 entries for the 2010 competition. In December 2009, NICHE magazine announced the 161 professional finalists and 70 student finalists, who were invited to display their work at the Buyers Market trade show.

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