Front & center
This January, graduate students from Warren Wilson College’s Critical and Historical Craft Studies program will be in residence at Center for Craft.
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This January, graduate students from Warren Wilson College’s Critical and Historical Craft Studies program will be in residence at the Center for Craft. The focus of this winter residency will be “Craft in Public Spaces” and includes a series of public Craft Conversation events that are free and open to the public.
The MA in Critical and Historical Craft Studies program was originally conceived in partnership with the Center for Craft during a June 2016 Think Tank. It is the first program in the U.S. to focus its curriculum on craft history and theory and brings together a rotating faculty from multiple disciplines and varied cultural and global locations to broaden understanding of craft as a field of study.
The graduate program follows a low-residency model. Students begin each semester in intensive on-site residencies alternating between July on the Warren Wilson College campus and January in downtown Asheville at the Center for Craft. Program Director Namita Gupta Wiggers says, “By holding classes in downtown Asheville during the winter residency, we are able to expand the curriculum and experiences with craft across urban and rural settings."
Much like the July residency, which fully employed the Warren Wilson College campus as a teaching environment, the time at the Center offers similar immersion opportunities within the Center and its surrounding area. Students will develop an Object Library for use by Warren Wilson students, and spend extended time with curators from the Center for Craft, Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center, and the Asheville Art Museum. The time and space to think about and study the city is the goal. A shift in content and context -- but the same focus on craft.
“This semester could have been focused on curating through craft; between the Center and the surrounding organizations, it would be easy to do," Wiggers says. "Craft, however, is encountered in a number of ways in the public sphere, from festivals to fairs, parades to street vendors, etc. By broadening the frame from curating - which focuses on museums/exhibition venues - to public spaces, we can consider how craft works in a layered, multi-faceted way. It helps us discuss craft as part of daily life.”
Students will work through theories about public space, shifts in how history is constructed, time and markers of time in indigenous and non-indigenous cultures, strategies for exhibiting craft, and history of museums. They will engage in discussions of readings, field trips, observations and studies of places around town. This ranges, for example, from the Center for Craft to the Asheville Art Museum, to retail spaces like Mora, East Fork Pottery and The Big Crafty. Using the city and its invaluable networks, the students have a myriad of case studies to analyze and apply what they learn from Core Faculty, Visiting Faculty, and guests.
"The city is our laboratory, the spaces in which craft is and is not encountered as the objects of study - in this way we guide students to expand thinking about craft by connecting this local cityscape to the places they live," says Wiggers.
Warren Wilson College will open its classroom for five evenings during the residency for a series of Craft Conversations that are open to the public. During the first hour, each presenter will share their research and process for 30 minutes; this is followed by 1 hour of active discussion with students and attendees. All programs will take place from 6:30-8:30 pm on the 2nd floor of the Center for Craft at 67 Broadway Street in Asheville.
January 5, T’ai Smith + Namita Wiggers
January 8, Lisa Vinebaum + Linda Sandino
January 10 , Judith Leemann + Ben Lignel
January 15, Christina Burke + Marilyn Zapf
January 16, Program Information Session with Faculty and Students