Art handstitching at Morningside Nature Park.   Photo by Sean Dowie
Art at work. Photo by Sean Dowie

Art Edison grew up in Salt Lake City and started his training in leatherwork as a shoe repairman at Tip Top Shoe Repair & Moccasin Shop in 1979. He moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico to attend St. Johns College to study the great books and also worked in Square Deal shoe repair and boot making shop. In 1982, Art apprenticed with master saddle maker, Robert Ginder, in Cuyamungue, New Mexico. After a year with Mr. Ginder, Art worked for Cerrillos Saddlery in Santa Fe, New Mexico where he made custom saddles, belts, bags, brief cases, chaps, hatbands, wallets, and other fine hand made leatherwork. After a stint as a ranch caretaker, Art returned to the University of Utah in 1986 where he studied Fine Art and Chemistry. During these years he worked as a luggage repairman in a local shoe repair shop and made custom leather goods for friends. He graduated with a BS in Chemistry in 1989 and attended graduate school at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He obtained his PhD in biophysics in 1993 and was a postdoctoral scientist in Zoology at UW-Madison from 1993-96. He was a professor in the Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology at the University of Florida from 1996-2015, when he moved to the University of Georgia, where he is a GRA Eminent Scholar in the Departments of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology and Genetics and a member of the Complex Carbohydrate Research Center and Institute of Bioinformatics.

Our modern world has 24-hour news, constant and instant communication, and mass production of inexpensive and disposable products. Traditional crafts and functional art are endangered in our technology-filled lives but are important elements of our cultural heritage. Art makes every item by hand using the finest materials available with tools and techniques from time-honored western saddle, boot, and harness making traditions. His craft provides a template for his approach to the other aspects of his life.