craft + activism = craftivism. Maker participation that uses the creative process making a stronger more compassionate voice, strengthening personal activism, connecting beyond the self, and making items that facilitate political thought and action.
My age old question on the hierarchy of art and craft rears its ugly head: studio art vs fiber art vs craftivism vs fine art vs contemporary craft when I listen to JULIA BRYAN-WILSON discuss her conclusions from her 2017 book: Fray:Art and Textile Politics.
I totally identified with her portrayal of the 70’s Women’s Sewing Circle and Terrorist Society, owning one of the original tee-shirts. I was completely aligned with her fine portrayal of relevant contemporary artists producing thought provoking textiles like Willam Pope, Cecilia Vicuña, Margarita Cabrera, and Harmony Hammond. Her information about the inherently progressive nature of the small hand-sewn tapestries depicting Pinochet’s torture, arpilleras (tapestries) and the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt were evidence of handcrafted textiles recruited to satisfy ambivalent ends. She also proved that the malleability of fiber means that textiles can be activated for many ideological debates about feminized labor, protest cultures, and queer identities.
But, please, when you articulate all of that so clearly, give the artists the credit they deserve. They are artists escaping the assertions of high or low, alternative or mainstream, professional and amateur, success or fail: They are the artists offering crucial insight into how textiles inhabit the broad space we call art.