Things You May Not Know: ACC Fellow J. Fred Woell

Things You May Not Know: ACC Fellow J. Fred Woell

J. Fred Woell, Nixon Postcard

J. Fred Woell's Nixon (1970) appeared on a postcard addressed to ACC staffer Lois Moran from Birmingham Gallery.

ACC Archives

J. Fred Woell was an incredible jeweler and sculptor, and his work was significant to the wider field of craft – as well as the American Craft Council. Woell was inducted into the College of Fellows – one of the highest honors of the Council – in 1995, and there is a significant collection of materials about him in our archives. In celebration of Woell's life and work, we invite you to join us for a screening of the film J. Fred Woell: An American Vision on November 14, at 7 p.m. in the ACC Library. In the meantime, here are a few things that you may not know about this ACC Fellow. 

Woell was a self-identified political artist and maker who said:

“We are all politicians to a degree… We have both a public and a private life, and only few of our very close friends and family know who we are and exactly what we think. We smile when we are sad, in order to make others happy. We face danger, when we are afraid in order to inspire courage in others. We are, therefore, not always ourselves. When we are at our best, we are trying hard to be something better than ourselves — bigger than ourselves.”

Woell was known for his work featuring pop culture references — like this piece Come Alive, You’re in the Pepsi Generation from 1966, featuring known advertisements and photographs.

J. Fred Woell, Come Alive, You're in the Pepsi Generation

J. Fred Woell, Come Alive, You're in the Pepsi Generation, 1966

Courtesy of Kane Lewis Productions

Woell had interesting and uncommon views on the value of jewelry. Rather than using precious stones and metals, Woell used found objects and unusual materials to create pieces that placed the focus on concept and design, rather than on “marketability” which he found “repulsive.”

These are just a few of the juicy tidbits behind the life and work of J. Fred Woell. Check out our digital collections for more information on this amazing and innovative maker, and be sure to join us for the screening.