Gardner, Massachusetts has an identity as “Chair City” but almost all of its furniture factories have closed. Today this region is full of people who know how to make things. Gardner has an important story to tell, a story that resonates across this entire country, and the process of telling this story is rich with potential to problem solve for a productive and hopeful future. Making handcrafted books that share firsthand accounts of people who made their living in the furniture industry will honor the history of Gardner as well as provide a tool for community members impacted by the closing of the factories.
Chair City Community Workshop
306 Central St – Gardner MA
Contact: Tracie Pouliot November 4, 2016
865-696-6733 For Immediate Release
Book Arts Exhibit Is A Kind of Homecoming for Community Artist
“Oral History Book Series: Chair City Community Workshop,” is on display at Mount Wachusett Community College’ East Wing Gallery through the end of November. It features the first two hand-made books to come out of a local community art center coordinated by Tracie Pouliot. Pouliot, the director of the Chair City Community Workshop and an adjunct instructor at MWCC, learned print making at the Mount as an eighteen year old senior dual-enrolled high school student. Instead of attending classes at North Middlesex High School, Pouliot commuted to the Mount and after her classes worked in the personnel office of Nichols & Stone in Gardner. When she went on to study print making at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn and community art at Maryland Institute of Art, her work was informed by what she learned working at the iconic furniture company. Now she teaches print making at MWCC and directs a community project that uses letter press and the book arts to honor the stories of men and women who worked at Nichols & Stone.
Pouliot interviewed a dozen former Nichols & Stone employees in 2009, a year after the last large furniture manufacturing plant in Chair City closed down. Now she works with volunteers at the Community Workshop to transform interviews into hand bound books printed on a 1960s era letter press.
“After Nichols & Stone closed, I knew it was a big deal, I knew it had a big impact on a lot of people and on the region,” explains Pouliot. “I interviewed people to save these memories but I always wanted to find a way to honor the stories and reach a bigger audience with issues about having and losing the work that really means a lot to who you are.”
Two of the books from the Chair City Oral History Project, one featuring Dale Lucier who worked at Nichols & Stone for 33 years and one featuring Guy Savoie who worked at the furniture manufacture for 35 years, as well as, some tools of the letter press trade and ephemera from the factory are on display as part of the exhibit.
“Dale Lucier’s story really helped inspire the form that the Chair City Community Workshop has taken,” says Pouliot. “Dale talked about how hard it was to lose the place where you spent time with your co-workers doing something you were proud of. We try to recreate that kind of space at the Workshop.”
Volunteers at the Chair City Community Workshop are currently printing the fourth book in the Oral History Series, while they begin the process of binding the third book which features the story of Anne Ollette, who supervised the sales department at Nichols & Stone before she retired in 1999.
Volunteers are always welcome at the Chair City Community Workshop which is located at 306 Central St in downtown Gardner. People with ties to the furniture industry are encouraged to stop by and share their stories.
Tracie Pouliot Education MA in Community Arts, Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, MD, 2007 BFA in Printmaking, Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY, 2003 Experience Adjunct Professor, Printmaking Mount Wachusett Community College, Gardner, MA, Sep 2016 – present Develop curriculum and instruct a diverse range of students in printmaking basics. Community Artist Chair City Community Art Center, Gardner, MA, Aug 2014 – present Launch participatory community art project. Project development, fundraising, promotion, build partnerships, community outreach. Printmaking and bookbinding instruction. Self-employed Artist People You May Meet, etsy.com/shop/peopleyoumaymeet, Jan 2014 – present Run all aspects of online shop selling hand-drawn custom portraits. Artist in Residence The Southern Letterpress, Gulfport, FL, Jan 2014 – Jul 2014 Create pilot book for the Chair City Oral History Series. Teach linocut workshop. Program Coordinator Office of Cultural Events & Special Academic Programs, UNC Asheville, Asheville, NC Nov 2007 – Jul 2013 Highsmith Union Gallery: Manage all aspects of gallery – budget, schedule, receptions, contracts, install exhibits, volunteer management, graphic design, promotion, strategic planning. Cultural Events: Manage all aspects of ticketing, advertising, and educational outreach activities. Create promotional and ticket sale schedule, train employees on sales and customer service. Outreach: Build partnerships with local and campus groups, form advisory board, facilitate consensus building, brainstorm and coordinate meaningful and relevant outreach activities with committee, manage and mentor interns in leadership roles. Workshop Instructor, Introduction to Drypoint Printmaking Asheville BookWorks, Asheville, NC 2009 – 2013 Instruct adults in beginning level drypoint and press safety. Community Artist Kids on the Hill, Baltimore, MD, Sep 2006 – Jul 2007 Develop/implement experiential art and social change curriculum, manage class of high schoolaged young people, facilitate/support participants to research local issues and do advocacy using art as a communication tool, coach young people to create and give public presentations, develop partnerships with local organizations, develop/implement systems of evaluation. AmeriCorps Member Beardsley Community Farm, Knoxville, TN, Aug 2004 – Jun 2006 Outreach to families and schools, plan and lead on and off-site multi-generational urban _______________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________ 318 Central St. Apt. 2 Gardner, MA 01440 865.696.6733 firstname.lastname@example.org traciepouliot.com agriculture trainings, initiate and maintain partnerships, develop volunteer orientation and retention plan, recruit and train volunteers, coordinate events, create informational and marketing materials, compile and send advisory committee meetings minutes, general labor. Workshop Instructor, Beginning and Intermediate Book Arts and Relief Printmaking Inkshop Printmaking Center and Cornell University Graduate Student Center, Ithaca, NY, Oct 2003 – Aug 2004 Instruct adults in beginning level printmaking and book arts. Print Shop Monitor and Lithography Teaching Assistant Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY, Sep 2001 – Jun 2003 Clean and maintain print facilities and supplies, ensure shop meets EPA and safety standards, assist students and professors, assist graduate level lithography class, hang student shows. Floater Nichols & Stone Furniture, Gardner, MA, Summers 1998 – 2004 Chair Finishing: Decorative work, sanding. Inventory: Count and keep running list of parts. Select exhibits, art events and volunteer work • Group exhibit: GALA Juried Art Show, PACC, Gardner, MA 2016 (honorable mention) • Group exhibit: GALA Juried Art Show, GALA Art Center, Gardner, MA 2014 (honorable mention) • Curator: Recollection & Intention (participatory exhibit), UNC Asheville Highsmith Union Gallery, Asheville, NC 2012 • Facilitator of collaborative curatorial process: Print/Stitch/Beat: Process, Product and Community at Asheville BookWorks, Blowers Gallery, UNC Asheville, Asheville, NC, 2011 • Speaker: Ladies of Letterpress Annual Conference, “Community Connections Panel,” Asheville, NC, 2011 • Group exhibit: BookWorks Instructors Invitational, BookWorks, Asheville, NC, 2010 • Graphic design for YWCA: poster and handbill for “Standing Against Racism in the Midst of a Changing Neighborhood,” Asheville, NC 2010 • Juried Art and Craft sale: The Big Crafty, Asheville, NC, 2009, 2010 • Group exhibit: 21st Parkside International Small Print Exhibition, Purchase Award, University of Wisconsin, Parkside, 2008 • Graphic design and printing for Center for Participatory Change: Thank you cards, gallery exhibit show cards and business brochures, Asheville, NC, 2009-2010 • Group exhibit: 2nd Annual Interlude Editions Small Book Collection, Western Carolina University and Asheville BookWorks, 2008 • Group exhibit: Artists in Community; A Personal Journey, Maryland Institute College of Art Baltimore, MD, 2007 • Group exhibit, collaborative curatorial process: MICA in Community, Maryland Institute College of Art, ArtScape Festival, Baltimore, MD, 2006 Professional and personal development Traveled around the U.S. in a camper, July 2013 – Jan 2014 Board member, Center for Craft, Creativity and Design, Asheville, NC 2013 Awarded the Outstanding Contribution to Diversity at UNC Asheville, 2012 Making Meetings Work: Developing Extraordinary Leaders; UNC Asheville, Asheville, NC, 2012 Completed North Carolina Marathon, Highpoint, NC, 2011 The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, UNC Asheville, Asheville, NC, 2011 Building Bridges of Asheville: Going Beyond Racism Through Understanding and Respect, Asheville,