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Craftivism: An Introduction

Craftivism is a form of activism based on practices of craft, such as knitting, sewing, and other "domestic arts." The term was coined in 2003 by knitter and activist Betsy Greer. Craftivism typically integrates aspects of feminist, environmentalist, and anti-capitalist movements, utilizing the social and expressive nature of crafting to communicate solidarity, empowerment, and even action. This guide is aimed towards individuals who are familiar with these crafts and are interested in using their practices to engage with activism and social justice. 

Craft practices have historically been undermined and undervalued, considered "women's work" rather than high or fine art. In the fight to reclaim these traditions and give them their rightful due, certain perspectives have dominated the writing of this history. The craftivism movement has been criticized for its perceived lack of intersectionality and its passive approach towards protest, often rightfully so. This LibGuide seeks to re-center marginalized voices within the craft community, as well as articulate the reasons why women have historically turned to craft as a preferred form of direct action. 

Each page of this LibGuide shares highlights from the history of craft as action and empowerment, focusing on Knitting, Quilting, and Embroidery. Also featured are examples of contemporary movements, expanding these practices to address the anxieties and inequities of the modern day. Each page links to resources for books, videos, and groups for practitioners who want to join the Craftivism movement on the local and global level.

Books related to Craftivism

Quilt by fiber artist Bisa Butler, featuring a seated woman with her legs crossed on a background of yellow patterned fabric.

Daughter Of The Dust (2020), Bisa Butler

Cotton, silk, wool and velvet
quilting and applique
58” x 83”
Private collection

The Tempestry Project

The Tempestry Project blends fiber art with temperature data to create a bridge between global climate and personal experiences through knitted or crocheted temperature tapestries, or “Tempestries.” Each Tempestry represents the daily high temperature for a given year and location, all using the same yarn colors and temperature ranges.

Tiny Pricks Project

Embroidered by Amy Marcus. Part of the Tiny Pricks Project, a public art project created by Diana Weymar, which aims to create "a material record of the Trump presidency" and the protest against it.

Pink M.24 Chaffee (2006), Marianne Jørgensen

A public protest by Danish artist Marianne Jørgensen against the military involvement in Iraq by Denmark, the United States, and other countries. Jørgensen covered a World War II-era tank with over 4,000 feet of pink knitted fabric sources from knitters across the globe.

Queen Lili'uokalani's "Crazy Quilt" (1895)

In 1895, while imprisoned in her own home at Iolani Palace in Honolulu, Queen Lili'uokalani, the last reigning monarch of the Kingdom of Hawaii, created this quilt. It is done in the "Crazy Quilt" style popular of the time, called such due to the chaotic shapes and colors and the nine-block patchwork style. 

Inequality = Conflict

Embroidered patch from Craftivist Collective.

Craftivism: A Personal Story

Here's a video of Sarah Corbett, explaining the nature of craftivism and the idea of the gentle protest. She discusses how she became a craftivist and why she started the Craftivist Collective, an inclusive group of people committed to using crafted works to help themselves and encourage positive change in the world. 

Online Resources for Craftivists