Haystack at Liberty

From Insight to Mountain to Island

by Alana VanDerwerker

Why did a wealthy widow from Michigan give substantial money to start a craft school in rural Waldo County, Maine in 1950? How did Haystack Mountain School of Crafts succeed so rapidly and why did it move to Deer Isle, Maine, where it has become internationally famous? Haystack at Liberty: From Insight to Mountain to Island tells that story.

Haystack is the living legacy of passionate conviction that the art of craft matters to all of us in many ways. Told extensively in the words of Francis Sumner Merritt, the founding director, and Mary Bishop, the founding “angel,” their story involves dozens of talented, eventually famous people and their amazing interconnections. This history interweaves over 140 archival photographs, excerpts from numerous interviews, and quotes from archival letters. The index of names is long and may surprise many readers. Fran Merritt asked me to record the people who shared “the best years of my life,” and this is it.

About the Author

Born and brought up in southern Maine, Alana VanDerwerker earned a B.S. in art education at the University of Maine. She and her husband lived and worked as artists and educators in Minnesota and Europe, returned to Maine in 1978, and settled in midcoast Maine since 1979. Alana first attended Haystack in 1975 at Deer Isle and in 1976 at Arcosanti in Arizona. In the 1980s she extensively researched Haystack’s early history with the encouragement of Francis and Priscilla Merritt and Haystack’s staff. A botanical artist and writer, Alana also worked as a copy editor for Maine Antique Digest until retiring at the close of 2017.

Limited edition, hardbound, 245 pages, 140 black and white archival photos.