At both the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Cleveland Institute of Art, excellence in the various craft media has long been applauded and encouraged. The earliest such CIA-affiliated craft artists and sculptors represented in the CMA collection—influenced by the American Arts and Crafts Movement—are notable for an inspired sense of design and technical virtuosity. These traits would characterize much of the artwork by those artists who became known as “the Cleveland School.”
During the May Shows, CMA honored numerous craft objects with prizes, introducing new categories when it was deemed useful to do so. For example, in 1927 CMA introduced a category for “ceramic sculpture” in recognition of so much accomplishment in this vein, primarily by artists associated with R. Guy Cowan’s pottery and with CIA. Among these categories, the best examples were often acquired by CMA, even from artists just embarking on a professional career.
Because the CIA curriculum has always focused on both fine art and design, not only have these artworks historically offered inspiration to both collectors and makers in Northeast Ohio, but today they mirror the multiple interests of CIA’s students, faculty, and alumni.