Alfred University News

Helen Drutt English HD ’19 featured on PBS series ‘Craft in America’

Helen Drutt English HD ’19, a renowned American craft art curator and educator, was featured in the award-winning PBS documentary series “Craft in America.”

Drutt English is featured on an episode of the Peabody Award-winning series titled “Home,” which is set to premier at 10 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 16. The episode is available to stream now; the segment on Drutt English begins at the 48:03 mark.

“Craft in America” is a documentary series which explores America's creative spirit through the language and traditions of the handmade. It is dedicated to the exploration, preservation and celebration of craft, the work of the hand, and their impact on our nation’s cultural heritage.

Drutt English received an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree from Alfred University in September 2019. In presenting her for her honorary degree, Wayne Higby, director of the Alfred Ceramic Art Museum, said, “None of the pioneers of the contemporary cultural marketplace has been more important to Alfred University and to the advancement of ceramic art than Helen Drutt English.”

Drutt English’s involvement in the field of Modern and Contemporary Craft began in the mid-1950s, first as a collector. She was a founding member of the Philadelphia Council of Professional Craftsmen in 1967, serving as its Executive Director until 1974. In 1973, she founded the Helen Drutt Gallery, one of the first galleries in the United States committed to modern and contemporary crafts.

She for years has been an advocate to Alfred University’s art community, including graduates of the ceramic art program. Over the years Drutt English has exhibited and promoted the work of numerous ceramic artists affiliated with Alfred University. They include Higby, whose work has been shown at more than 20 exhibitions at Drutt English’s galleries in Philadelphia and New York City.

In 2018 she began work with the National Museum of Art in Sweden on an exhibition that includes the work of several ceramic artists connected to Alfred, including Higby, John and Andrea Gill, Linda Sikora, Robert Turner, Val Cushing. Over her career, Drutt English has organized a number of major exhibitions in the United States and abroad. In 2014, she facilitated the gift of a collection of 74 works, including ceramics, furniture and jewelry, worth approximately $2 million, to Russia’s Hermitage Museum. The work of several Alfred University-affiliated artists, including Higby, is included in the collection.