Robert Coogan, Professor of Art / Head of Metals Program
Professor Robert Coogan came to the Appalachian Center for Craft in 1980 and assisted Phillip Fike who was then the Master Craft Person in the set up and teaching during the first year of our academic programs. Coogan has been the head of the Metals Department since 1981. He credits his teachers both David LaPlantz at from Humboldt State University where he received his BA in Art, and Richard Thomas At Cranbrook Academy of Art where he received his MFA with opening his eyes to the world of possibilities in Metalsmithing.
He has sought out opportunities to work and learn from some of the best and brightest in our field and acknowledges that without their help and instruction that he would not be doing what he is doing today. His love of teaching has made him one of the most sought out workshop instructors working today. With over150 workshops having been taught across the US and around the world.
He also was honored with a Fulbright Fellowship to teach in England, and in 2008 he was honored by receiving the Tennessee Artist Craftsman Grant.
He continues to be an innovative and producing artist with numerous exhibitions every year and is acknowledged as one of the leading practitioners in Mokume-Gane and Damascus steel. His work is held in numerous museum, corporate and private Collections. Coogan's work is exhibited nationally and internationally, he teaches workshops throughout the U.S., (and around the world) His work is featured in numerous books and publications.
I have always believed it is important that the technical aspects of our field be balanced by the intellect. Development of technical skills is extremely important in metal working. Without the technical background the students artistic vision cannot be realized. It is my intention to enable the students the opportunity to develop both their skills and their artistic sensibilities with the intent that they are one day able to earn a living from their talent and love of what they are able to create.
When I was in graduate school we had a visit from one of the silver manufacturing firms and they asked us what we were doing for the industry. Our reaction was more of what is the industry doing for us. I can now see this question from both sides.
Students leaving the Craft Center will have the technical ability that they could become part of the industry as bench workers and technicians. They should also be able to work in the design aspects of the industry creating the look of the future.
Our students have also become teachers and found unexpected paths of artistic expression such as working in the film industry. Many of our students have jumped directly into the production of their own work and been very successful. It is my hope and intent that our students will become the leaders in the field and hiring the next generation as their employees.