Craft as a Tool for Activism
The Museum of Craft and Design (MCD) has recently announced a nationwide virtual exhibition and artist marketplace, Call & Response: Craft as a Tool for Activism, which highlights 50 artists who are working at the crucial intersection of craft and activism by uplifting their political ideals and their communities through their medium of choice.
In May, MCD launched an open call to artists and craftspeople resulting in 421 submissions employing a diverse range of mediums, practices, and concepts. With material practices ranging from neon signs to ceramics, concrete, cut paper, embroidery, textiles, clothing and fashion, jewelry, woodworking, social practice, and makeup artistry; the entries also spoke to diverse issues: ecology, racism, social injustice, police brutality, prison reform, feminism, trans rights, gun control, voting rights, immigration, gentrification and much more, painting a portrait of the issues that face Americans today.
Image: Hannah Alex Younger, Relational Values, 2017, Thiox monoprints on hand-dyed, hand-woven Tencel. Image courtesy of the artist
Of these entries, the panel of three jurors (curator and writer Glenn Adamson; ceramist and teacher Ebitenefya Baralaye; and adjunct professor, artist, and E.D. of Public Glass Nate Watson) selected 50 artists to include in the virtual exhibition. Their selections include established and emerging artists from across the country. Juror Glenn Adamson notes: “I was looking not only for work that was vibrant and resonant, but also achieved real contact with the public realm. To be effective, any protest (handmade or not) needs to get out into the streets, into the sphere of everyday discourse. Where it matters.”
Image: Ann Morton, Violet Protest, 2021, mixed-media and textiles. Photo by Bill Timmerman, Timmerman Photography
Among the 50 selected artists, three prize winners were chosen: First Place was awarded to Ann Morton’s Violet Protest, 2021; Second Place to Sobia Ahmad’s wherever you are is called Here, 2019; and Third Place to Hannah Alex Younger's Relational Values, 2017.
Through the virtual exhibition, viewers can dive deeper and learn more about all 50 participating artists. Ahn Lee's cocoon was created in response to the violence Lee experienced as a Chinese person in relation to COVID. Nasim Moghadam's The Birth Certificate, a monumental sculptural installation enlarging eight pages of her birth certificate booklet, represents female hyphenated identity in the Middle East and explores the identity of women concerning culture and society.
Image: Kenya Alkebu, Red, White and Baldwin, 2015. Photo courtesy of the artist.
This exhibition invites the viewer to slow down and take time to peruse the artist pages and to learn more about artists such as Kenya Alkebu a "lifer" inmate in the Louisiana Department of Corrections and his quilt Red, White & Baldwin, a celebration and recognition of his love of the writer, James Baldwin.
Call & Response: Craft as a Tool for Activism is now available to view at sfmcd.org.
You can support the exhibiting artists by browsing the Artist Marketplace until September 30, 2021, at shop.sfmcd.org.