We invite you to mine the generative spirit on which the American Craft Council was founded, as we identify and confront the potentials in contemporary American life, affirm the necessity and power of making things by hand, and build a healthier craft ecosystem for moving forward – all in three days during the “Present Tense: 2019” conference in Philadelphia. Our collective conversations will guide subsequent retreats and programs, begin penning solutions, and collaboratively set a national stage for ways to take action and record our progress.

Here is some of the programming we have in the works:

Main Stage

Thursday – Saturday
How do we unleash the catalytic potential of craft?  Artists, thought leaders, craft practitioners, curators, civic leaders, writers, critics, media makers, and social activists take to the Main Stage each day to inspire our collective thinking, challenge our assumptions and provide some fresh perspectives on what craft can do in the present tense. Full schedule will be announced in the coming weeks.

Object Stories: Main Stage & Open Mic

Thursday – Saturday: Main Stage / Friday: 2 – 5 Open Mic
What can we learn about contemporary American life from the objects in our lives and from the stories about them? Unleashing the inert potential of the tangible, a curated lineup of storytellers will take to the Main Stage to explore objecthood in the present tense. We’re also inviting you to share your story in a unique participatory platform akin to lighting talks. Bring an object to place on the podium, and then you’ll have nine minutes to talk about your object as an object (descriptive), my object (personal), and the object (generative and catalytic) – all with the goal of sparking more interest in the work you’re doing and soliciting constructive feedback. If you’re interested, send us your pitch. Space is limited, and we’ll notify selected presenters by September 1.

Sky-High Facility for Creative Work

Thursday – Saturday
Where’s the meditative, convivial space to welcome new ideas and create future collaborations? Welcome to the debut of the Sky-High Facility for Creative Work. ACC founder Aileen Osborn Webb’s vision for a “facility more difficult to describe… for its output cannot be known or scheduled. Its success will come from creative thinking in the form of writing, books, essays, special research, or new plans, which will relate society and the arts… in a happy harmony.”  

The Bureau of Craft Information

Thursday – Saturday
Who’s publishing what and writing on what? Presented in partnership with Schiffer Publishing, this space is a place to engage with contemporary publications and historic archival material on craft practice, theory, and critical discourse as well as the home for author presentations and book signings throughout “Present Tense.”  

“Tense Present” Emerging Voices Exhibition

Thursday – Saturday
To mark the 50th anniversary of the critically acclaimed “Objects: USA” exhibition, ACC will debut “Tense Present,” a reflection on contemporary American life as told by and about the object makers and scholar selected for ACC’s 2019 Emerging Voices Awards. The exhibition will be curated by Sarah Darro and feature work from Diedrick Brackens, Raven Halfmoon, Aram Han Sifuentes, Luci Jockel, Marisa Finos, and Bukola Koiki.

Explore Philadelphia: Walking and Bus Tours

Thursday and Friday
How does our understanding of Philadelphia’s history inform the present craft ecosystem of this American city? Venture out to explore the architectural fabric of the city on foot with Jennifer Zwilling and Christopher Storb or discover Philadelphia’s most exciting maker spaces by bus with Leila Cartier and Julie Siglin. When you register for the conference, you have the option of selecting one tour each day. Learn more below about the tours offered.

Make an Impact: Craft in Action Workshops

Thursday and Friday
Can we make something [together] to change something [together]? Step into the community and experience the catalytic power of craft during two-hour hands-on workshops designed for you to contribute to a healthy craft ecosystem. Four choices are available when you register. 

  • Craft [Ceramics] in Action: ElBowls and Social Practice 
    What’s the most fundamentally useful extension of our hands? Michael Strand believes it might be a bowl. Learn how to make unique and beautiful bowls in less than five minutes with a focus on social practice project development. 
  • Craft [Textiles] in Action: Southeast by Southeast
    How can craft provide economic and educational opportunities for new arrivals and refugees in a safe, sustaining environment to create community-based creative making? Experience the vibrant, community-centered hub that is Mural Arts Philadelphia’s Southeast by Southeast.  
  • Craft [Printmaking] in Action: The Fabric Workshop and Museum
    Guided by expert printers, you’ll learn the screen-printing process using designs inspired by FWM’s exhibition “Jacolby Satterwhite: Room for Living” and print your own tote to commemorate your experience. 
  • Craft [Wood] in Action: Making A Seat at the Table: Community Marquetry Project 
    The ancient practice of wood marquetry involves the arrangement of intricately cut wood veneer on a surface. Honored guests from A Workshop of Our Own will be leading a collaborative project that will be donated to a local women’s shelter.