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Raymond Materson

Program Director of Pregnancy Prevention, HIV Education/Parenting Programs
Berkshire Farm Center and Services for Youth, Canaan, New York 

Raymond Materson is Program Director of Pregnancy Prevention, HIV Education/Parenting Programs at the Berkshire Farm Center and Services for Youth in Canaan, New York, a residential placement and treatment facility for troubled adolescents and young men. A renowned artist, author and lecturer whose embroideries have been exhibited in museums nationwide, he and his artwork have received wide media coverage.

At Berkshire Farm, which operates satellite services for at-risk youth and their families statewide, Materson teaches parenting and relationship skills. He created and instituted a home-oriented personal responsibility curriculum that underscores the devastation of substance abuse on both the individual and his or her whole family.

Materson teaches from personal experience. He served 7 years of a 15-year prison sentence for drug-related offenses, ending in 1995. He used the art of needlework to “escape” the harsh realities of prison life and to fashion a new life for himself. His autobiography, Sins and Needles: A Story of Spiritual Mending (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2002), written with his wife Melanie, recounts a life of drugs, despair and transformation. For the past eight years, he has spoken publicly about his life and experiences in overcoming drug and alcohol dependency. Since prison, Materson has used the thread of socks to create miniature scenes, most measuring only 2 and 1/4-by-2 and 3/4 inches, with 1,200 stitches per square inch.

Prior to his current position, Materson served for two years as a caseworker at Berkshire Farm. From 1998 to 2000, he conducted group and individual counseling. He also initiated an art group and established a library program at Berkshire Farm. In 1995, he worked as an instructor at The Ark in Troy, New York.

In 2001, Materson served as artist in residence at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. In 1999, he won a fellowship from the New York Foundation for the Arts and served as a counselor at the Berkshire Farm Center in Canaan, New York.

Materson’s work has been exhibited at numerous museums, including the American Visionary Art Museum (AVAM) in Baltimore, the American Museum of Folk Art in New York, the American Primitive Gallery in New York, the University of Michigan, the Art Center for the Capital Region in Troy, the Hudson River Museum of Westchester, the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe, the Southeast Center for Contemporary Art in Winston-Salem, the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York, the White Columns Gallery in New York, the Pro-Art Gallery in St. Louis and the Artworks Gallery in Hartford. The AVAM exhibit, “High on Life: Transcending Addiction,” runs through August 31, 2003 and has the largest single grouping of Materson’s artworks ever assembled. Materson’s work is also in the private collections of actors John Malkovich and Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

Materson received a bachelor of philosophy from Thomas Jefferson College (Allendale, Michigan), majoring in theater and performing arts, and attended graduate classes in education at Grand Valley State University (Allendale, Michigan) and Western Michigan University (Kalamazoo).

View Raymond Materson's Profile

View Raymond Materson's Gallery of work.

Link to Ray Materson's website: www.raymaterson.com

Copyright 2004 The Johns Hopkins University. Baltimore, Maryland.
All rights reserved. Last Updated November 10, 2009

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