Brigitte Martin, the new executive director at Boston’s Society of Arts + Crafts, welcomes all to the venerable institution
“We should not be afraid to open the doors to new expressions, new collaborations and new ways of existence,” says Brigitte Martin, the new executive director at Boston’s Society of Arts + Crafts (SA+C). “Anything that’s a border or a hindrance, that’s a sign of the past.” Martin, a trained goldsmith and jewelry maker, has built her career on opening avenues of communication between artists, artisans and the public. The Cologne, Germany native married an American and moved to the U.S. They moved often for her husband’s job, but it was in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania that Martin reconnected with craft. “My children were in school, my husband at work. I had been a stay-at-home mom, which was great, but suddenly I had all this free time,” says Martin. “So I got back into goldsmithing.”
Martin first became interested in metals at an exhibition of Renaissance-era jewelry. “I became extremely interested in how this work was actually made. It fascinated me. I looked around to see if it was something I could learn for myself.” She apprenticed herself to a master goldsmith to learn the traditional techniques, and found a calling.
Back in Pittsburgh, Martin was lonely in the isolation of her studio, with just her radio for company. “One day, I heard a conversation on NPR when Facebook was just becoming. The assertion was made that these days, everybody could create a social network around their interests and find like-minded people they’d have no chance to meet otherwise,” Martin remembers. “I thought, this is a good idea.” She began crafthaus, a website where makers of all disciplines could exchange ideas. “It allowed artists not only to look outside their studio, but learn from adjacent fields. A lot of collaborative work happened, and a lot of conversation across all media and boundaries.”
Martin knew she found another calling in connecting crafters. “My personal interests go far beyond jewelry making. I’m interested in all craft as an expression and an activity,” she says. “Craft is a very enjoyable experience, and it has a community aspect.” Since crafthaus, Martin has served as board president for the Society of North American Goldsmiths, editor-at-large for American Craft magazine, executive director of the Furniture Society and published the book Humor in Craft. In her new role at SA+C, Martin wants to create exhibitions that are engaging and inclusive. “People don’t need to be worried to come in. Our exhibitions will be fun and hands-on, with something for everyone. We’re just going to throw the door wide open.”
April 12–14 at the Boston Center for the Arts’ Cyclorama, 539 Tremont St., 617-266-1810, societyofcrafts.org. $15.