Research takes care. It requires work, and builds connections best when shared.
Research can take a variety of forms: writing, working in archives, dialogue, making things, and examining things that have been made. We believe research, when expansive, culturally sensitive, and collaborative, is a process for tending to craft.
The format for this gathering was a research experiment, and proposed a key question:
What work can we do together that we could not do alone?
Sarah Darro is a curator and writer working at the nexus of contemporary art, craft, and design. She has established an intersectional curatorial vision that is invested in reinvigorating museum spaces as forums for discourse, innovation, action and engagement through experience. She is the Gallery Manager of the Center for Craft in Asheville, NC. Darro was named the 2019 American Craft Council Emerging Voices Awards Scholar and is the forthcoming 2022 Jentel Critic at the Archie Bray Foundation. She completed a Curatorial Research Fellowship in Modern and Contemporary Glass at the Corning Museum of Glass in 2020 and a Windgate Curatorial Fellowship at Houston Center for Contemporary Craft in 2018. Most recently, Darro curated the exhibitions Total Work of Art at Spring/Break Art Show New York and Tense Present for the American Craft Council. Darro holds a Master’s degree in visual, material, and museum anthropology from Oxford University and Bachelor’s degrees in art history and anthropology from Barnard College of Columbia University.
A Silviculturist by training, Dave Ellum is Professor of Ecological Forestry and Dean of Land Resources at Warren Wilson College. Since taking on leadership of the WWC undergraduate Craft Program in 2019, Dave has developed a deep respect for the expansiveness of craft's place in the world as well as a reinforced appreciation for the foundation assertion that forestry is an art as well as a science. Recently he has been working with Namita Gupta to develop the "Craftscape" at Warren Wilson College, a multi-dimensional learning and teaching space that connects craft to land in ways that are fundamental to the social and environmental inclusivity of both.
Andres Payan Estrada
Born in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico, Andres Payan Estrada currently lives and works in Los Angeles. An artist and curator whose practice focuses on issues revolving around contemporary craft and material practices with a focus on ceramics, he is currently the curator of public engagement at Craft Contemporary and visiting art faculty at the California Institute of the Arts.
Mellanee Goodman is a craft researcher. For the last two years, she has been engaged in studying the history of Black craftswomen in the upper South, including Southern Appalachia, from 1850-1910. Mellanee’s interest lies with the craft work of Black women in particular: mattresses, brooms, spun thread, woven cloth, and knitted and sewn garments privileged comfort for slave owners, but also for the families of the enslaved. While most items like this no longer exist nor retain attribution to the original maker, her study of ex-slave narratives, newspaper clippings, and the education of the formerly enslaved after emancipation pieces together a more complete picture of craft- and place-based identities of Black craftswomen, some of whom lived in the same mountains Mellanee currently calls home. Mellanee earned her Bachelor of Arts in Art Management from Appalachian State University. She is a student in the MA in Critical Craft Studies program at Warren Wilson College. Mellanee is also the Executive Associate for the Center for Craft, located in Asheville, North Carolina.
Julie Hollenbach is an Assistant Professor of Craft History and Material Culture at NSCAD University (K’jipuktuk/Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada). Julie’s curatorial and academic work uses a queer, feminist, anti-racist and decolonial methodology in order to address craft practices and craft cultures at the intersections of history and location, tradition and ritual, contact and connection, meaning and use. Julie’s writing on culture has been published in popular press platforms (Canadian Art, Studio Magazine, and Crit Paper) as well as scholarly publications (Craft and Design journal, Cahiers métiers d’art ::: Craft Journal). Julie has curated exhibitions at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, MSVU Art Gallery, Union Gallery, and the Anna Leonowens Gallery.
Lisa Jarrett is an artist and educator based in Portland, OR. She is Associate Professor of Community and Context Arts at Portland State University’s School of Art + Design. She is also co-founder and co-director of KSMoCA (Dr MLK Jr School Museum of Contemporary Art); the Harriet Tubman Middle School Center for Expanded Curatorial Practice in NE Portland, OR; and the artists collective Art 25: Art in the 25th Century. Her intersectional practice considers the politics of difference within a variety of settings including: schools, landscapes, fictions, racial imaginaries, studios, communities, museums, galleries, walls, mountains, mirrors, floors, rivers, and lenses. She exists and makes socially engaged work within the African Diaspora. She recently discovered that her primary medium is questions.
Emily Johnson is an artist who makes body-based work. She is a land and water protector and an activist for justice, sovereignty and well-being. A Bessie Award-winning choreographer, Guggenheim Fellow and recipient of the Doris Duke Artist Award, she is based in Lenapehoking / New York City. Emily is of the Yup’ik Nation, and since 1998 has created work that considers the experience of sensing and seeing performance. Her dances function as portals and care processions, they engage audienceship within and through space, time, and environment- interacting with a place's architecture, peoples, history and role in building futures. Emily is trying to make a world where performance is part of life; where performance is an integral connection to each other, our environment, our stories, our past, present and future.
Emily hosts monthly ceremonial fires on Mannahatta in partnership with Abrons Arts Center and Karyn Recollet. She was a co-compiler of the document, Creating New Futures: Guidelines for Ethics and Equity in the Performing Arts and is part of an advisory group, with Reuben Roqueni, Ed Bourgeois, Lori Pourier, Ronee Penoi, and Vallejo Gantner - developing a First Nations Performing Arts Network.
matt lambert is a nonbinary, trans, multidisciplinary collaborator and co-conspirator currently living in Stockholm, Sweden, as a PhD student between Konstfack and HDK Valand. They hold an MA in Critical Craft Studies from Warren Wilson College and an MFA in Metalsmithing from Cranbrook Academy of Art
JeeYeun Lee is an interdisciplinary artist, writer, and activist based in occupied Potawatomi territory now known as Chicago. Through performance, objects, and socially engaged art, her work explores dynamics of connection, power, violence and resistance. Her art has been shown in Chicago, Detroit, Santa Fe, Ohio, Missouri, and France. She has worked with social justice and community-based organizations for over thirty years in immigrant rights, economic justice, LGBTQ issues, and domestic violence. She holds an M.F.A. in Fiber from Cranbrook Academy of Art, M.A. in Ethnic Studies from the University of California at Berkeley, and B.A. in Linguistics from Stanford University.
Hinda Mandell, Ph.D., is associate professor in the School of Communication at RIT in New York, and is editor of Crafting Dissent: Handicraft as Protest from the American Revolution to the Pussyhats (Rowman & Littlefield, 2019); co-curator and co-editor of Crafting Democracy: Fiber Arts and Activism (RIT Press, 2019); a co-editor of Nasty Women and Bad Hombres: Gender and Race in the 2016 US Presidential Election (University of Rochester Press, 2018); the author of Sex Scandals, Gender and Power in Contemporary American Politics (Praeger, 2017); and co-editor of Scandal in a Digital Age (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016). Her scholarly inquiries into collaborative handcraft as change-agents have been published in Craft Research, the Journal of Urban Cultural Studies, and forthcoming in the Journal of Feminist Scholarship. She is the editor of a new chapbook series with RIT Press, Craft for Social Change. Her research has been funded by the Center for Craft and Fiber Art Now. Since 2017, she has organized maker interventions on issues of social reform tied to geographic place, reaching more than 2,000 craft participants. She is on Instagram: @crochetactivism.
Alaska artist Amy Meissner combines traditional handwork, found objects, and abandoned textiles to reference the literal, physical, and emotional work of women. Her social practice includes teaching clothing and textile repair as acts of prolonging, care, and accompaniment of vulnerable objects. As a Northern Research Lab Fellow at the Anchorage Museum, her research into the craft of repair in the Circumpolar North informed her Practicum as an MA candidate in Critical Craft Studies (2021).
Dr. Tiffany Momon is a public historian and Assistant Professor at Sewanee, The University of the South, with years of experience participating in the preservation of community histories. Her work has taken her throughout the southeast, organizing community based historic preservation projects in locations such as Winston-Salem, North Carolina, the Alabama black belt, and the Kentucky segments of the Trail of Tears. Momon is the founder and co-director of the Black Craftspeople Digital Archive (blackcraftspeople.org), a black digital humanities project that centers black craftspeople, their lives, and their contributions to the making and building of America. Throughout her career, Momon has lectured on the subject of black craftspeople at organizations such as the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts, Winterthur Museum and Gardens, the Daughters of the American Revolution Museum and others.
Heather K. Powers
Heather K. Powers is a textile maker, organizing professional and coach, project manager, and design consultant with experience in a wide range of textile manufacturing processes. Heather takes an interdisciplinary approach in her organizing and design business, HKpowerStudio, to help clients craft intuitive spaces to live and work in. Heather’s curiosity about the intersection of organizing and creativity led her to a social practice interview series on the topic. Her research during her MA, Critical Craft studies further investigates how craft studios are represented and understood by different audiences to learn about craftspeople, their practices, material, and visual culture. She writes, consults, and teaches across a wide range of creative topics and serves on the board of a regional (SE USA) creative nonprofit working to promote the art & history of natural Indigo textile dyeing.
Born in 1986 in Graham,TX, Anthony Sonnenberg earned a BA with an emphasis in Italian and Art History in 2009 and an MFA in Sculpture from the University of Washington, Seattle in 2012. Residences include; Ox-Bow, Saugatuck, MI (2017); Lawndale Artist Studio Program in Houston,TX (2016); Artist in Resident at Sculpture Space, Utica NY (2014); the Archie Bray Foundation for the Ceramic Arts, Helena MT (2014); Pilchuck Glass School, Stanwood,
WA (2012); and the Ox-Bow School, Saugatuck, MI (2008). Notable exhibitions include; State of the Art II, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, AR (2020); the Contemporary Art Museum, Houston, TX (2019); The Fuller Craft Museum, Brockton, MA (2019); the Craft and Folk Art Museum, Los Angeles, CA (2018); the Art Museum of Southeast Texas, Beaumont, TX (2018); Lawndale Art Center, Houston TX (2015); The Old Jail Art Center, Albany TX (2013); the Texas Biennial (2011 & 2013); Old Post Office Museum and Art Center, Graham, TX (2012); Co-lab Projects, Austin, TX (2012) and the Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, WA (2011). Mr. Sonnenberg lives in Fayetteville AR.
Namita Gupta Wiggers
Namita Gupta Wiggers is a writer, curator, and educator based in Portland, OR. Wiggers is the Director of the Master of Arts in Craft Studies atWarren Wilson College, North Carolina. This low residency program, the first of its kind, focuses on critical and historical craft studies. She is the Director and Co-Founder of Critical Craft Forum. From 2014-17, Wiggers taught in MFA Applied Craft + Design, co-administered by Oregon College of Art + Craft and Pacific Northwest College of Art, Oregon College of Art + Craft, and at Portland State University. From 2004-14, she served as Curator (2004-2012) and then Director and Chief Curator (2012-14), Museum of Contemporary Craft, Portland, OR. She is editing the Companion on Contemporary Craft with Wiley Blackwell Publishers, and an ongoing research project on gender and adornment with Benjamin Lignel. Wiggers serves on the Board of Trustees, Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, and on the Editorial Boards of Garland magazine and Norwegian Crafts.
Emily Winter is an artist and weaver based in Chicago. She is co-founder of The Weaving Mill, an experimental weaving studio that blends design, production, textile education and research-based practice. Her work utilizes material experimentation, holistic/functional design, community-based practices, research and publication to explore the intersections of industry, textile material, utopianism, technology and social practice. She holds an MFA in Textiles from the Rhode Island School of Design and a BA in History from the University of Chicago. She has received project and programming grants from the Hyde Park Art Center, the Center for Craft, the City of Chicago, the Propeller Fund and the Rhode Island School of Design.
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Want to propose sessions about your interests? During the symposium, Birds of a Feather sessions will be organized around topics suggested by you and fellow attendees with the aim of sparking new possibilities for connection, expanding the conversation, and learning with each other.
As you get inspired by the conference programming, you can continue to submit suggestions for Birds of a Feather topics.
In a lightning round format, 12 participants will be selected to share 5-minute presentations. Optional Q+A can occur in the following Birds of a Feather sessions. Presenters will be announced prior to the conference.
Participants will be notified by July 12 if their project has been selected.
Over the course of three days, we built, connected, experimented, and questioned how research tends to the study of craft. Participants engaged and reflected both on and off-line. Session formats varied from presentations followed by small, hosted group discussions to collective making workshops; from individual off-line experiences to short, fast-paced introductions to people and projects. Participants shaped the conversation, too, through breakout sessions on topics of their choosing.
Craft Ways 2021: Tending to Craft aimed to disrupt hierarchies and change craft histories. By shifting research towards collaboration and collectivity, we can learned from — and with — each other.
We envisioned this gathering as a springboard to explore the possibilities of collaborative research — with outcomes unknown.
Craft Ways 2021 was co-presented by the Center for Craft and the MA in Critical Craft Studies program at Warren Wilson College. As program partners, this gathering exemplified the type of generative collaboration that builds intergenerational networks to recognize and support future craft practice, research, and scholarship.
The Center for Craft is the leading national nonprofit working to advance the understanding of craft. Located in Asheville, NC, the Center for Craft offers quality arts programming and exhibitions free to the public, in addition to a nationally recognized grant program that serves artists, curators, and scholars throughout the United States.
Warren Wilson College, a private four-year liberal arts college in the Swannanoa Valley, North Carolina, provides a distinctive undergraduate and graduate education that combines academics, work, and service. Warren Wilson College’s Masters in Critical Craft Studies is the first and only low-residency graduate program in craft history and theory.