Message from the President

What a year. I would have been proud to write this note to you simply marveling that we made it to the end of 2020 teaching in person with no program closures or serious health concerns at NBSS. That alone is an accomplishment, and I'm grateful for the diligence, care, and resilience that made it possible.

And yet there's more: throughout the unfolding crises of 2020, the School kept the progress of our students in focus, adapted our work, remained flexible, extended our community, and developed new ventures—all with dedication, stamina, and grace.

We end 2020 with the crescendo of our virtual Open House, three lively days which showed, perhaps more clearly than ever, the fruitful intersection of the digital with the analog. Through a live stream, hundreds of people from around the world were able to see our students and faculty at work, in-person, sharing their deep knowledge and growing skills. We also end our year with an ambitious and creative strategic plan for digital offerings through our Continuing Education program. This will allow us to chart new ways of teaching skill-based courses to more people in more places, truly extending our reach and impact.

Throughout the unfolding crises of 2020, the School kept the progress of our students in focus, adapted our work, remained flexible, extended our community, and developed new ventures—all with dedication, stamina, and grace.

True to the goals we set a year ago, we continue to engage a fuller "ecosystem" of our fields. Our new public programming series, In The Making, brings new voices to NBSS, emphasizing the diversity of the work of craft and trade in the world. And, importantly, we end this year taking up the deep and long-term work of what it means to become a community that is more welcoming, inclusive, and diverse, providing greater access to the fields for which we train.

A Board member wrote to me this week, "Our last meeting presented a condensed picture of a wonderfully resilient response to an extraordinarily challenging year. The School got slammed with the multifold troubles of 2020 only to leap into action, wield its rich resources of talent and invention, and emerge with a new sense of vigor and direction. In many ways, even while the School's mission is unchanged, it has adaptively reconfigured itself to thrive in a rapidly changing environment; and into something altogether different than where we were before disaster struck."

This note offers great insight to the legacy of our institution. North Bennet Street School will turn 140 years old in 2021, and by virtue of its longevity has seen an untold number of challenges. Yet generations of stewards viewed these not as impossible threats, but as calls to action; ways to not only endure, but to grow and evolve. We believe the same today.

But transformation is not magic, it is steady, daily work. Like the trades we teach, it is labor both meaningful and urgent, harnessed by those with the skill and the ambition to achieve it. This ongoing work of adaptation, response, and renewal is present in our courageous students and ingenious faculty, and in our resourceful staff and unwavering community. It is a part of our nature as a School.

We're at an inflection point in our long history, writing our next chapter. As we close out a tumultuous year, I am buoyed and inspired by you, the NBSS community. And I am so honored to be a part of our work at this time.

Thank you.

Sarah Turner, President

Sarah Turner

Previous Messages from the President

Careful, Yet Expansive
Sarah Turner

Message From the President: Though much is different on the surface this fall, our students and faculty are engaged as ever. Despite the precautions and the quiet, slow work of reopening, there is buoyancy and energy at NBSS. This is the framework for the year ahead, I believe; two simultaneous inclinations to be balanced. While we are protective and careful, reserved, and cautious with our work and resources, happily, we are also in an expansive, experimental, and outward-focused mindset, one that follows the generative opportunities that come with change.

Optimism and Conviction
Sarah Turner

Message From the President: In June, the president typically sends a letter to the NBSS community to reflect on the accomplishments of the past year and signal the way ahead. Usually, summer is a transition season, a slowing of pace and rhythm, a reset between semesters. Writing this seems quaint and dreamy now, as nothing about the last months have been typical or marked by gradual transitions. Instead, sudden changes and urgent needs have upended our routines, calling us to reimagine our work and ways.

A Vantage to the Future
Sarah Turner

Message From the President: The start of 2020 marks one full year for me at North Bennet Street School, which gives me a unique vantage point. I'm new enough to retain my perspective from the "outside," but now also have an awareness of the School as an insider. This vantage point gives me a long-range view for NBSS, an opportunity to look to the School's future. Looking ahead, I see us as perfectly poised to develop the whole ecosystem of craft and trade, to nourish the interrelated networks of our disciplines, with a vision for what we want our fields to be.

About Sarah

As an educator, leading from both the office and the studio, Sarah has worked at the Cranbrook Academy of Art, the Rhode Island School of Design, the State University of New York at New Paltz and the Oregon College of Art and Craft. As the Dean at Cranbrook, she directed the Academic Programs of the Academy, including a ‘public-lecture-as-variety-show’ series, and a Critical Studies + Humanities residential teaching fellowship, which she established in 2009. Sarah has also worked extensively in the areas of student success, from enrollment and admissions to developing opportunities for students and alumni. She has lectured widely, regularly serves as a guest critic to studio programs, and has organized exhibitions on contemporary craft and design in the US and abroad. In 2005, Sarah was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to the Netherlands to research Dutch contemporary applied art.

In addition to her work in education, Sarah has maintained a studio practice rooted in craft. Trained initially in metalsmithing and jewelry, her work has ranged from woodworking to weaving to printmaking – always with a focus on the meanings inherent to objects and materials. Her artwork has been included in exhibitions nationally and internationally, including the Museum of Art and Design in New York, the National Ornamental Metal Museum in Memphis, Galerie Noel Guymarc’h in Montreal, and The Society of Arts and Crafts in Boston.

Sarah has been a volunteer and advisor for a variety of organizations, including the Southeast Michigan Fulbright Association, the Vermont YWCA, the Art Jewelry Forum, and the Society of North American Goldsmiths.

Born and raised in Ohio, Sarah received a Bachelor's Degree in Sociology from Smith College and a Certificate in Metalsmithing from the Oregon College of Art & Craft. She earned a Master of Fine Arts degree from Cranbrook Academy of Art.


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