art, fiber art

John Skau, a memorial

Here is the cover of Shuttle, Spindle, and Dyepot magazine (the official publication of the Handweavers Guild of America) from Summer 1998, when it published an article about John and his work. At the end of this post, you’ll find links to the article, which I scanned, and other links that I found about John on the Internet.

From 1993, for the Greensboro Weavers Guild “Whimsical” exhibit, John presented a woven shirt and a snake. John really liked snakes.

He is not in many of the Guild’s photos because he took most of them.

Here’s an excerpt from the introduction (exhortation?) he wrote to Greensboro Weavers Guild members about “Let’s Be Whimsical,” the group project/exhibit that the Guild undertook in 1993-1994:

To me, the word whimsy strongly suggests the word freedom. I like that idea. We as artists and crafts people need more freedom. Working in the medium of fiber we are all too often faced with restrictions and constraints of one kind or another…

Throughout history artists and crafts people have had to deal with their own set of circumstances and limitations. Many of their limits were self imposed as many of ours are today. We can gain a great deal of artistic freedom by observation and thought followed by action. We all want to grow and explore new avenues as we create. We probably all realize that nothing is really “new” under this sun. But we really can bring our ideas and materials together in fresh and curious ways – in visually intriguing and thought provoking ways.

For an invigorating and inspirational exercise I like to examine the stuff of the past. Past peoples, past cultures, past movements, etc. A virtual treasure trove of art objects and solutions to visual problems is out there, waiting for us to learn from and enjoy. It can be so satisfying and almost overwhelming to witness the range of artistic expression that has gone on in the past. These objects belong to all of us, many may seem outlandish or “whimsical” but each serves as a bench mark for all who seek freedom of expression. Enjoy the images.

We went up to Virginia to be with our family for the holidays. One evening we went out for a drive to view the holiday lights. As we took off my brother-in-law who was driving announced that for safety purposes he was issuing ‘back seat driver’s licenses’ to all passengers! Wow! What an idea! I must do that for our guild members!

My dear guild members, under the auspices of our Greensboro Weavers Guild I am pleased to issue your well deserved ‘Artistic License.’ Use it in good health and ‘Whimsically’ of course!

Thank you, John. I believe that I’ll dig out that license, dust it off, and put it to use.

John’s obituary and guestbook in the News and Record.” Copied in full below from

John Lawrence Skau, 53, of Archdale, N.C., died Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2007. A celebration of his life and work will occur at a later date. John Skau was born Dec. 27, 1953, in Waukegan. He received an associates degree from Lake County Community College, a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Northern Illinois University and his Master of Fine Arts from Cranbrook Academy of Art. He was a nationally known artist producing one of kind sculptural baskets. His work appears in many public and private collections including Art Quest in Greensboro. He also taught around the country including Ball State University, Arrowmont, Penland, and Theatre Art Gallery in High Point. In addition he was a stay at home dad, cook and bottle washer. He was active in the Archdale Library Friends, Trinity Historical Preservation Society, Greensboro Weavers Guild and Piedmont Craftsmen among many others. For all who knew John, his generosity and kindness made him a model for their own lives. His caring continued beyond people and the arts to the environment. He was dedicated to conservation and lived with great respect for the earth, its inhabitants and natural resources. He is survived by his wife, Judith West; sons, Drew Skau of Charlotte, N.C. and Erik Skau of Archdale; brothers, Tom Skau of Round Lake and Jim Skau of Rockford; and sister, Sue Skau and partner Stevie Conlon of Arlington Heights. In lieu of flowers the family requests that memorials be made to an Arts organization of the donor’s choice.
Published in Chicago Suburban Daily Herald on Oct. 12, 2007

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