The North Carolina-based Center for Craft, Creativity and Design awards 10 Windgate Fellowships, each worth $15,000, to students from around the country.

It is one of the largest awards offered nationally to art students. This year, two of the 10 winners are graduating seniors from the Maine College of Art. Tanner Price and Aaron Decker each won a fellowship, and each plans to use it to further his studies overseas.

Price studied woodworking and furniture design at MECA, while Decker studied metalsmithing and jewelry. Both will graduate Saturday morning during ceremonies at the State Theatre in Portland.

Each one grew up in a small town, and each has a history of craft in his family. Price grew up in Addison, Vt., and was introduced to woodworking through his father, who ran a construction company. Decker grew up mostly in Alaska in a military family, and moved around. He graduated from high school in Bucksport, on Maine’s midcoast, and admired his grandfather, who operated Murray’s Clock Shop in Madison.

His grandfather died recently, and Decker views his decision to design jewelry as something of a tribute to his grandfather and his legacy.

“I think of him a lot, and I think he would be really excited about what I am doing, especially now,” said Decker, who will inherit his grandfather’s tools.

The fellowship confirms Decker’s decision to enter art school. He initially studied English at the University of Southern Maine, then transferred to MECA to satisfy his creative urge.

“It confirms I am following a path that I took a shot at,” he said. “My parents were not pleased with the idea of going to art school. But I got a scholarship to go, and I applied for everything I could. Getting this fellowship confirms that it might be a viable career.”

Price learned to appreciate wood while building houses with his dad.

“I loved how wood as a material was able to provide residential structures for people, which then would be highly decorated with wooden elements such as flooring, cabinetry and even wall applications,” he said. “This all led me to investigate woodworking as a career choice.”

With support from the fellowship, Price will go to Europe to study architecture and its influence on furniture objects, then return to the U.S. and outfit his studio with machinery and tools so he can make furniture.

Decker will go to the Czech Republic to participate in the international Garnet Symposium, then to Portugal to work with the Association of Contemporary Portuguese Jewelers. He plans to return home, build a body of work and prepare for graduate school.

Saturday’s graduation ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. The commencement speaker will be Helen Molesworth, chief curator at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston. About 65 students are expected to graduate.

Staff Writer Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or at:

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