American Craft Forum: The Second Series

American Craft Forum: The Second Series

American Craft Forum Second Series Header

Craft Thinking

May/June 2020

The American Craft Forum returned for a second free series, this time ready to turn up the volume and amplify the varied ways diverse craft communities step up and put artists to work. In our April 2020 series, we heard our communities were hurting and provided avenues for relief. Here, we turned to designing the road ahead.

This series acknowledged the ways craft is standing up and standing out during the global pandemic as makers dig deep into their creative conscientiousness to heal, mend, and build a more resilient and equitable craft ecology.

Part 1: Craft for care and well being

Friday, May 15
 

We kicked off our series on Friday, May 15, with a conversation around craft as an avenue for care and well being. We explored ways that makers are using their practice both for both self care and in the service of their communities.

Craft can heal. From skill-building to mental health benefits, this statement has been proven again and again. Craft is healing once more during this crisis, with makers stepping up to support our incredible healthcare and essential service workers and envisioning a better world moving forward.

Participant demographics (self-identified as one or more)

  • 85% artists or makers
  • 40% educators
  • 18% entrepreneurs and writers
  • 15% nonprofit professionals
  • Less than 12% students, gallery owners, or curators

Participant response

  • 88% of attendees found the program informative and inspiring
  • 58% felt more connected to new resources and networks as a result of participating in this session
  • 66% reported that the program exceeded their expectations
  • 85% found the program accessible and inclusive
Forum Second Series Stephanie Syjuco Portrait

You asked: Is there any advice you have regarding mask distribution? How were you making sure that your masks got to the right people? Start local in your own neighborhood, family, and community and scale up as needed or able. Check out national calls for masks. The need is still very real and there are many ways to help.

Forum Second Series Karen Hampton Portrait

You asked: How is this pandemic going to change the landscape of the art community? How will it be different? And how do you hope that it will be different? With the closing and restructuring of so many art galleries, the focus will shift to public art and pieces that are more accessible and community-based. The need for this type of art will rise.

Forum Second Series Holly Hanessian Portrait

You asked: How has Touch in Real Time changed since COVID-19? What will happen with this project in the future? Thinking about all the people we have lost through this outbreak underscores the need to capture the touch of someone at the end of their life as a source of comfort and memory. This project may live on with a focus on the resulting object acting as a last moment of contact with loved ones.

Other questions and comments from our discussion:

  • Material for mask-making is becoming more and more scarce. Are there alternate materials or methods available?
  • Volunteer work is being highlighted more than ever during this crisis as important and necessary. Why isn’t the same type of work paid a living wage in the marketplace? The observation was made that, in many cases, volunteering is an act of privilege.
  • In this new mask-wearing world we live in, we need to acknowledge that not everyone is seen in the same light. How can we address the concerns of people of color who fear being targeted for wearing masks?
  • How does the craft/arts community pivot from addressing the immediate need to create personal protective equipment (PPE) to critiquing and the instigating change in the political and business policies that gave rise to this need?
  • The phrase “return to normal” is tossed out a lot right now. How can we take this a step further and “create the conditions for change” to “evolve to something better?”
  • Could craft create the vision for what a “better world” would look like?

Moderated by:

Forum Second Series Hrag Vartanian Portrait

Featured short films:

Craft Thinking Jordan Carey Loquat thumbnail
Craft Thinking Kei & Molly Textiles thumbnail
Craft Thinking Avra Messé thumbnail

Featured mixologists:

Forum Second Series Shoots & Roots Bitters

Part 2: (Re)centering craft in our social lives

Friday, June 12
 

Participant demographics (self-identified as one or more)

  • 71% artists or makers
  • 36% educators and students
  • 20% nonprofit administrators/staff
  • 16% writers
  • 16% curators
  • 9% entrepreneurs
  • 5% gallery owners

Participant response

  • 95% found the program accessible and inclusive
  • 91% of attendees found the program informative and inspiring
  • 79% felt more connected to new resources and networks as a result of participating in this session
  • 77% reported that the program exceeded their expectations

We asked: What social experiences have we built/can we build together in this new space?

Forum Second Series Darrah Bowden Portrait

You asked: To what ends did Harvard’s Graduate School of Design utilize kites and kite making and design? The kite festival as part of the curriculum was the brainchild of Benjamin Thompson, then the director of the Harvard Graduate School of Design, and only took place for one day, for a handful of years.

We asked: What other areas is craft thinking applicable to, and what will we address next?

Forum Second Series Diana Baird NDiaye Portrait

We asked: How do we re-design curation/voice amid all of this?

Forum Second Series Andres Payan Estrada Portrait

You asked: What are some challenges institutions face with how they choose to frame and promote events and exhibitions? How can institutions present material that is sensitive to the makers? It requires more collaboration and conversation with the maker to fully understand the breadth of what they are trying to convey through their work. Focus the presentation on their voice and their perspective, linking them and your institution directly with their community.

Closing remarks:

Forum Second Series Sarah Khan Portrait

Moderated by:

Forum Second Series Hrag Vartanian Portrait

Featured short films:

Craft Thinking Zahit Mungan thumbnail
Craft Thinking Aram Han Sifuentes thumbnail

Featured mixologists:

Forum Second Series Shoots & Roots Bitters

Part 3: Design solutions for an equitable and sustainable craft economy

Friday, June 26
 

On Friday, June 26, we gathered virtually for our third program on craft thinking, wrapping up the second series of the American Craft Forum. This session explored ideas around the marketplace in the age of COVID-19 and a post-pandemic world. What does the future look like for brick-and-mortar shops? Art fairs? E-commerce? What will participation look like in those spaces? How will we design for safety, success, equity, and access? Our final group of presenters discussed how craft can play a role in reshaping and rebuilding economies.

Moderated by Hrag Vartanian, editor in chief and co-founder of Hyperallergic, this conversation featured three craft-based organizers and entrepreneurs, with three films from our [Not] In Isolation Film Project (produced with support from the Windgate Foundation) providing inspiration for our discussion. We were joined by more than 230 participants from all over the country who submitted their comments and questions via an online chat room.

Participant demographics (self-identified as one or more)

  • 80% artists/makers
  • 39% educators/students
  • 25% entrepreneurs
  • 13% nonprofit professionals
  • 13% writers/curators/publishers

Participant response

  • 73% of attendees found the program informative and inspiring
  • 73% felt more connected to new resources and networks as a result of participating in this session
  • 70% found the program accessible and inclusive

We asked: Can we find resiliency in a collective approach?

Forum Second Series Katy Stanton Portrait
Forum Second Series Dominick Davis Portrait Forum Second Series Steven White Portrait

We asked: What does participation look like now?

Forum Second Series Keith Recker Portrait

We asked: What is the future of ecommerce post-pandemic and in what types of spaces do we expect to see artists' stories and brands emerge?

Forum Second Series Vallejo Gantner Portrait

Moderated by:

Forum Second Series Hrag Vartanian Portrait

Featured short films:

Craft Thinking Open Works thumbnail
Craft Thinking Makwat Studio thumbnail

Featured mixologists:

Forum Second Series Shoots & Roots Bitters

Presented in collaboration with

Hyperallergic logo

Socially Engaged Craft Collective logo

Critical Craft Forum logo  Smithsonian Center for Folk Life & Cultural Heritage logo