I remember our first discussion group back in August; we watched a video of James Krenov teaching a class from the mid-1990’s. On screen, beyond the heads of bygone students, he stood at the front of the bench room where our lectures still take place. The screen hung where Krenov had been filmed standing, making a curious comparison between past and present at the College of the Redwoods woodshop.
Krenov spoke on screen about the students who are drawn to the intensive nine-month program and how they are each part technician and part dreamer. He told his students that their work is the balance of an idea, its structure and execution. This balance is achieved when you learn to work with sensitivity, finding a personal harmony. He continues, that through skill and sensitivity you gain freedom as a craftsman.
We sometimes wonder what it must have been like to study here under Krenov; it carries a certain cachet. But new layers are being added, making for a rich, more diverse learning environment. I have often found that what makes a place interesting is its accretion of layers over time, rather than embodying a single cohesive idea. Recently Ejler said of Danish modern design that there is no innovation without tradition, and no tradition without innovation. I think his words ring true for this whole place. You get all the good stuff from the past, filtered through instructors who trained here with Krenov. But you also get new perspectives and an openness to change that feels healthy and inspiring.