Marcy Petrini, Weaving and Handspinning
Marcy Petrini has been active in the Craftsmen’s Guild of Mississippi since 1980, when Guild Founding Director Dan Overly asked her to organize a statewide weavers’ guild. Petrini’s efforts led to the establishment of the Chimneyville Weavers’ Guild and to the beginning of her weaving classes, which have been a very successful part of the education program at the Mississippi Craft Center for more than 25 years.
A native of Italy, Petrini learned knitting, crocheting and other handcrafting skills as a child, but began weaving while in medical school in Rochester, New York. She and her husband, Terry Dwyer, became so fascinated that they spent their wedding money on loom plans, wood and hardware. While Marcy experimented with brilliant colors and patterns, Terry continued making looms and now maintains the Guild looms.
Marcy and Terry have been a part of the Chimneyville Crafts Festival and all other Guild functions for many years. She has served on the Board of Directors three separate times. She has been treasurer, chairman of the standards committee, chairman of the education committee and was on the organizing committee for the Chimneyville Crafts Festival.
Petrini lists as her most successful achievement the number of outstanding weavers who have gone on to become members of the Guild after taking her classes and the many who have become friends and supporters of the Guild.
Andy Young, Stained Glass
Andrew Young became a member of the Guild in the organization’s second year and has now been a member for forty two years. Serving as president of the Board of Directors and on the standards committee, Young helped Guild organizer Dan Overly find creative and talented craftsmen and bring them together. He opened Pearl River Glass Studio in 1975 and has had remarkable success, including being the recipient of the Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts in 2002.
In addition to heading his glass studio, Young has a degree in education for the ministry and many of the churches in Mississippi and in other states contain beautiful stained glass windows created by him. Through Pearl River Glass Studio and teaching classes for the Craftsmen’s Guild, Andy has been a mentor to many beginning glass artists, several of whom had their work juried and accepted into the guild and are now active members of the organization. For over four decades, Andy’s extraordinary stained glass pieces have been favorites at the Chimneyville Crafts Festival and in the gallery of the Mississippi Craft Center.
Susan Ford Robertson, Glass Blowing
Susan Ford Robertson is a craft pioneer and one of the first Mississippian to master the art of glass blowing. Discovering her passion in an introductory class at the Mississippi University for Women in 1974, Robertson embarked on a journey of learning, experimenting and sharing her gift for a remarkable 31 years that included studying at the Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina in 1975 and 1979 and a mentoring friendship with Harvey Littleton, considered the “Father of small studio glass blowing.” A 40-year member of the Craftsmen’s Guild of Mississippi, Susan has achieved worldwide recognition. Her pieces have been collected by the Mississippi Museum of Art, the New Orleans Museum of Art, the Fine Arts Museum of the South and many private collectors. The State of Mississippi has chosen Susan’s work to be given as gifts to the President of the United States, President of France and the King of Spain. Born in Oxford and reared in Pascagoula, Robertson spent much of her adult life in Jackson before moving to Columbia, South Carolina in 2005.
Flectcher & Carol Cox, Wood Furniture
An exhibition of furniture makers at the Renwick Gallery in Washington D.C. in the early 1970’s inspired a young Fletcher and Carol Cox to pursue a career in woodworking that has garnered national recognition and major commissions for the past 40 years. Their work is included in the permanent collections of the Mississippi Museum of Art, the Smithsonian Institution, the Appalachian Center for Crafts, the Alabama Arts Center, the White House Craft Collection and many other prestigious museums and institutions. One of the founding members of the Craftsmen’s Guild of Mississippi, Fletcher’s large-scale works are included in the Eudora Welty Library, Museum of Art, Federal Courthouse in Jackson, School of Architecture at the University of Arkansas and at the Mississippi Craft Center in Ridgeland. Fletcher was honored with the Mississippi Governor’s Award for Artistic Excellence in 2006. Most recently, he has worked with the support of the Mississippi Arts Commission on the Governor’s Mansion Art Recovery Project to renovate and reinstall works created for the Mississippi Governor’s Mansion in the early 1990’s to public places in the Capital city.
Gwen Magee, Quilting
1995 was the year Gwendolyn Magee first began to consider her work as art. Since then, it has been featured in many books and publications. Her solo exhibit, "A Journey of the Spirit: The Art of Gwendolyn A. Magee" toured for two years to ten venues accompanied by a monograph of the same title.
Gwen's work is found in the permanent collections of the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Mississippi Museum of Art and has been exhibited internationally. It is archived at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, and in 2006 she was named as an "Honored Artist" by its Mississippi State Committee. In 2005 she was awarded an Artist Fellowship Grant by the Mississippi Arts Commission and selected in 2004 to represent the state on SouthernArtistry.com, a showcase "…spotlighting the diversity and achievements of outstanding artists who live and work in the South." Gwen was recognized by the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters as Visual Artist of the Year in 2003.
Along with her husband Gwen had two daughters, a son-in-law and two grandsons. Originally from High Point, North Carolina, she was a resident of Jackson, Mississippi from 1972 until her death in 2011.
George Berry, Wood Carving
George Berry learned wood carving from his father at an early age, and he has been whittling ever since. Thousands of wooden sculptures later, George had carved a permanent place in the art community as well as into the hearts of all who know him. Born in Oklahoma at White Oak Indian Hills, a Cherokee Indian village, George moved to Mississippi in 1972 to join the staff of The Piney Woods School where he taught industrial arts.
In 1973, Dan Overly recruited George to become one of the first members of the Craftsmen’s Guild of Mississippi, an initiative by then-Governor Bill Waller to foster the state’s folk artists. He is the only original member to stay with the Guild for over 40 years.
George’s work includes a wide range of animals and birds including many that are part of Mississippi culture such as hunting dogs, catfish, turtles, cranes and mules, using no other tools than a pocket knife. Two of his carved pieces were included in the Bicentennial Wagon Train Pilgrimage to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and at the Festival of Pennsylvania Folklife. He has exhibited his work at Festival USA on the Strand, the Mississippi Pavilion at the World’s Fair in New Orleans, the Old Capitol Museum, Museum of Natural Science, Mississippi Arts Festival and 36 Chimneyville Crafts Festivals hosted by the Craftsmen’s Guild.
His honors include a 2001 Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts, 2003 Hometown Hero Shining Example Award from the Jackson Convention & Visitors’ Bureau, a 2004 Mississippi Ageless Hero Award for Creativity from Blue Cross/Blue Shield and a 2009 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Craftsmen’s Guild of Mississippi. He was recognized with a proclamation acknowledging his accomplishments by the Mississippi House of Representatives.
In 2014, George Berry passed away, yet his legacy lives on. His work is still being appreciated by the many visitors to the Guild today.
After retirement, J. B. Keith turned his passion for making and playing the mountain dulcimer and hammered dulcimer into a successful business and made him well-known throughout the Southeast. His regular showings at the Canton Flea Market, the Chimneyville Crafts Festival and at the Mississippi Craft Center in the log cabin on the Natchez Trace Parkway sparked local interest in his instruments, and purchasers included people from all over the U.S. as well as foreign nations. He created over 3000 dulcimers, including some for well-known musicians like R.E.M. and Aerosmith. J.B. was a devoted member and past president of the Craftsmen’s Guild of Mississippi who was honored by his peers as one of the Guild’s first Lifetime Achievement honorees.