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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
Craftivism by Betsy Greer (Editor)
Publication Date: 2014
Edited by the person who coined the term "craftivist," this book features with interviews and profiles of craftivists who are changing the world with their art.
Extra/Ordinary by Maria Elena Buszek (Editor)
Publication Date: 2011
Reflecting on what craft has come to mean in recent decades, artists, critics, curators, and scholars develop theories of craft in relation to art, chronicle how fine-art institutions understand and exhibit craft media, and offer accounts of activist crafting, or craftivism.
Crafting Democracy by Juilee Decker; Hinda Mandell
Publication Date: 2019
Crafting Democracy: Fiber Arts and Activism calls upon craft, during an era of political disruption, as a creative force to voice dissent, express hope, critique the curtailment of civil rights, and to restore dignity to the human experience.
Guerrilla Kindness and Other Acts of Creative Resistance by Sayraphim Lothian; Betsy Greer (Foreword)
Publication Date: 2018
In Guerrilla Kindness, artist, scholar, activist, and YouTube art teacher Sayraphim Lothian gives you an introduction to the art of craftivism, and provides a brief history of creative resistance. This master craftivist shows you how to make and use various crafts for political and protest purpose.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Craftivist Collective is an inclusive group for crafters committed to using their work for positive change in the world. Founded by activist Sarah Corbett, the Craftivist Collective advocates for the idea of "Gentle Protest."
A recent exhibit at the Whitney Museum of American Art exploring the use of craft by a range of visual artists. The exhibit sought to question the concept of "fine art" that has marginalized craft throughout history.