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August 8, 2002

First Lady Lura Lynn Ryan Presents James R. Thompson Awards for Excellence in Craft

SPRINGFIELD -- First Lady Lura Lynn Ryan today presented the 6th Annual James R. Thompson Awards for Excellence in Craft to four Illinois artisans who specialize in weaving, sculpture, jewelry making and pasanky, a centuries-old Ukranian craft.

“As First Lady, it is an honor to help increase interest in the broad talents of our Illinois Artisans,” Mrs. Ryan said. “Today’s award recipients were chosen by their peers as the best of a tremendous group of individuals who bring great passion, creativity and care to their work.”

Susan kavicky,* of Island Grove, received First Prize for her work in fiber. Ms. kavicky took her first basketry class in 1987, looking for a portable craft she could take along while her husband was fishing. She became hooked when she learned to harvest, pound, split, size and weave with brown ash. In kavicky’s work, brown ash basketry is taken to a new form when the traditional wood splint is showcased. Whether the structure is organic or architectural, the satin of brown ash is always the center of attention.

In addition to the top award, three merit awards were presented to artisans Joyce P. Lopez, Michele Friedman and Vera Samycia.

Ms. Lopez’s sculptures are a rich combination of chromed steel wrapped in French cotton thread. Her work emphasizes a graphic approach with clean design and an unusual combination of materials.

Vera Samycia learned the centuries-old Ukrainian tradition of pasanky from her mother. Ms. Samycia’s decorated eggs combine her unique style with the rituals, symbols and tradition of pasanky.

Michele Friedman’s jewelry is influenced by late 19th century and 20th century architectural styles. Ms. Friedman conveys her passion for innovative design and architecture through her work with multiple geometric shapes constructed in a variety of materials.

The Illinois Artisans Shop in Chicago's James R. Thompson Center will feature the work of the winners in September. Their work also will be exhibited at The Museum Store at the Illinois State Museum in Springfield, the Southern Illinois Artisans Shop in Rend Lake and at the Dickson Mounds Museum Store in Lewiston. The Illinois Artisans Program generates statewide and national recognition for the cultural heritage of the craft arts in Illinois.

*Editor’s note: kavicky all lower case is correct spelling.


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