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Award Objects

Award Objects

Commonwealth Award Medal
Reed and Barton

Sample of Commonwealth Award MedalEach Commonwealth Award winner receives a medal designed and created by Taunton, Massachusetts-based Reed & Barton.










2011 Commonwealth Award Art Object
Sue Aygarn

Sample of Aygarn's hammer awardsThe 2011 Commonwealth Award art object was made by Sue Aygarn Kowalski of Carver, MA. She said, "These hand-made turned and fabricated hammer awards are a tribute to knowing our local and global communities in a way that is hands on, direct, self reliant, and tactile. They are made out of respect for both the ideas and activities that honor hard work."


2009 Commonwealth Award Art Object
Caleb Neelon

Cherry wood bowl with leaf explosion, by Caleb NeelonThe 2009 art object was made by Caleb Neelon, winner of a 2007 Artist Fellowship in Sculpture/Installation. He created unique, hand-painted cherry wood bowls, employing a leaf explosion motif.

Born in 1976 in Boston and based in Cambridge, Caleb is an artist, writer, and educator. Caleb's paintings and installation artwork have appeared in solo and group shows in venues in America and Europe, as murals on walls in Kathmandu, Reykjavik, Bermuda, Calcutta, Sao Paulo, across Europe, and in dozens of books, magazines, and newspapers around the world. Caleb Neelon’s Book of Awesome, his first artist monograph, is a new release from Gingko Press.

2007 Commonwealth Award Art Object
Judith Motzkin
2007 Commonwealth Award Art Object The 2007 art object is a delicate ceramic bowl mounted on clay pedestals, created by Judith Motzkin of Cambridge. Motzkin's pedestal bowls are wheel-thrown and utilize a unique firing process inspired by Mexican and American Indian techniques. Instead of employing a traditional glaze, Motzkin uses natural elements such as grass and sawdust to create delicate designs and patterns in her pottery. The deep earthy colors in her pieces come from the burning of these combustibles in the kiln.

Motzkin received her B.A. from Cornell University and later attended the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Her work has been exhibited in numerous museums and galleries across the country and most recently in South Korea. She was a founding member and director of the Cambridgeport Artists Open Studios and served on the Cambridge Arts Council Advisory Board. As a visiting artist, she has taught at Radcliffe-Harvard, MIT, Massachusetts College of Art, and various craft programs and workshops. She lives and works in a studio fashioned from an old stable adjacent to her 150-year-old Cambridge home.

2005 Commonwealth Award Art Object
Deb Todd Wheeler
2005 Commonwealth Award Art Object The 2005 art object, created by Deb Todd Wheeler, is made from three different computer-generated patterns of an unfolded acorn. These patterns were then etched in copper, which was then manipulated through the use of basic metalsmithing techniques of forming, soldering, and applying a patina. Each of the six art objects is unique, and refers to the vast potential a small idea or act has for becoming a large, complex endeavor. Deb Todd Wheeler’s work expresses her need to envision process— the stages of growth and production—and how those logical increments lead to objects that are both simple and extremely complex, like an acorn, a bud, or a maple leaf.

Ms. Wheeler received her BA in 1987 from the University of Vermont, and her MFA in 1994 from Massachusetts College of Art. Her work has been exhibited in numerous museums and galleries, including the Photographic Resource Center gallery in Boston, the national Art Museum of Beijing and the San Francisco Museum of Craft and Folk Art. She has won grants and awards that include a Massachusetts Cultural Council Artist Grant in Sculpture/Installation, an Artist’s Resource Trust grant, and a Davis Foundation Faculty Initiative/ Colleges of the Fenway Grant. She is currently a visiting lecturer at the Massachusetts College of Art.

2001 Commonwealth Award Art Object
Josh Simpson
2001 Commonwealth Award Art Object
Josh Simpson of Shelburne Falls began his Megaplanet concept in 1979 as a way to entertain a visiting class of eighth graders during a glassblowing demonstration – it has grown into internationally recognized works of art that combine art and science to depict the world and the universe around us.

Simpson, a Hamilton College graduate, has exhibited across the world, and at the Space Center Houston. His wife, Cady Coleman, is an astronaut who has twice flown Space Shuttle missions.

1999 Commonwealth Award Art Object
Peter Houk
1999 Commonwealth Award Art ObjectRecipients of the 1999 Commonwealth Awards were presented with a unique sandblasted glass platter crafted by Belmont artist Peter Houk. The pieces are 18-20 inches in diameter and approximately 3 inches high and can be displayed either upright on an acrylic stand or horizontally.

A graduate of Oberlin College and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Houk has studied at the Pilchuck Glass School in Stanwood, WA, where he was nominated for the Corning Prize in 1990, 1996 and 1998 and the Saxe Award in 1995. He received the Doug and Dale Anderson Scholarship in 1998. Houk also studied at the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Deer Isle, Maine.

His work has been exhibited at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Smithsonian Craft Show, the Philabaum Glass Gallery in Tucson, AZ, among other galleries. He is also a full-time instructor of graphic arts at the Buckingham, Browne and Nichols School in Cambridge.

1997 Commonwealth Award Art Object
Deborah Lisa Putnoi
1997 Commonwealth Award Art ObjectThe 1997 Commonwealth Awards objects were one-of-a-kind "totem paintings" created by Cambridge artist Deborah Lisa Putnoi. Each award is collaged with images that reflect the work and vision of the specific recipient. Putnoi is a graduate of Tufts University, the School of the Museum of Fine Arts and Harvard Graduate School of Education. She received a New Forms grant in 1995 from the New England Foundation for the Arts, which was funded in part by the Mass Cultural Council. Her work has been exhibited in numerous solo and group shows.

1995 Commonwealth Award Art Object
Laura Davidson
1995 Commonwealth Award Art ObjectAt the presentation of the 1995 Commonwealth Awards, recipients received limited-edition, hand-printed artists' books created by Massachusetts artist Laura Davidson. Based in Boston, Davidson is a recipient of a New England Fellowship in the Visual Arts; her work is in the collections of the Getty Museum, Houghton Library at Harvard, Library of Congress and the Museum of Fine Arts Library.

1993 Commonwealth Award Art Object
Gabrielle Schaffner
1993 Commonwealth Award Art ObjectIn honor of "1993: The Year of American Craft," Massachusetts ceramics artist Gabrielle Schaffner created the award object for the 1993 Commonwealth Awards. Schaffner produced her distinctive coffee sets comprised of cups, pot and tray, each with a design modified to suit the individual Commonwealth Award recipient. Her work is wheel-thrown and hand-built white earthenware clay and glazed using a modified majolica technique.

Schaffner received a B.A. in fine arts with a concentration in ceramics from Wesleyan University in 1986. Her studies included a year at Studio Arts Centers International in Florence, Italy. Recent exhibitions of Schaffner's work include the Holidays at Home show at the Society of Arts and Crafts in Boston; the About Face show at the Fast Forward Gallery in New York City; and the Celebration of American Craft IV in Middlebury, Vermont.

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