Lois Moran: Craft Advocate and Leader

Lois Moran: Craft Advocate and Leader

Lois Moran 1964

Lois Moran, 1964

“I quite agree that art has to do with ideas and beauty, but disagree that art is the province of the ‘fine’ artist who alone has the intellectual and aesthetic capabilities required to make ‘art.’  That the painter and sculptor are automatically on a higher plateau than the ceramist or weaver is a tiresome conceit insupportable in contemporary U.S.A.” ~ Lois Moran, abstract submitted to College Art Association Conference, December 1, 1977

Editor of American Craft for 26 years, Lois Moran led the American Craft Council through a renaissance. Upon joining the Council in 1964 as director of regional programs, Moran became editor of the ACC's Outlook newsletter in 1966. In 1968, as director of research and education, Moran launched Your Portable Museum, the largest slide services collection on contemporary crafts in the United States.

By 1977, Lois became director of national programs and, two years later, was chosen as vice president of operations before being named editor of American Craft on September 15, 1980. Her appointment was greeted by members of the Council as a long overdue promotion.

Moran’s knowledge of the Council (its members, artists, collectors, craft educators, and allies) - combined with her intellect, keen editor's eye, vision, and warmth - insured her success. Moran led the move from fragmented regional craft organizations to a cohesive, national entity with a unified voice for artists, educators, and collectors.

On her appointment as executive director of the Council in 1988, dozens of artists, collectors, board members, and allies of the Council wrote to congratulate Moran. An efficient librarian with an archival eye, she saved this well-organized correspondence. Moran retired from the Council on December 29, 2006.

In her career at the ACC, Moran kept an active calendar, including: jurying shows, editing the Council’s cookbook, orchestrating and attending photo shoots at collectors’ homes, writing encyclopedia definitions of craft, and reviewing craft book manuscripts. Moran frequently spoke on the making of American Craft, published essays refining the definition of craft, argued that makers of craft are artists, provided thoughtful analysis on the art of criticism, and gave feedback to artists.

Moran’s editorship of American Craft coincided with change in the publishing business. American Craft was not immune to the importance of increasing subscribers, generating greater revenue from advertisements, and being profitable. Moran managed with economy, schooling her team in the best practices. She experimented with plastic sleeves on the magazine for insertion of last-minute news and updates and added “tip-in” content with breaking news.

A lifelong learner, Moran’s weekly scan included national newspapers, the Economist, and serials on publishing, art, and craft. On her own time, she took classes at Columbia University in nonprofit management.

An affable nature emerges in Moran’s correspondence, and she kept global friendships growing through letters and email. Her vibrant connections with important donors to the Council, including the creation of the Vanessa Lynn prize with Allan Chasanoff, is an example. 

Lois Moran’s collection of files from her career with the American Craft Council has been processed and the finding aid is available. For more information, please contact the American Craft Council Library.