During times of social division and misunderstanding, the art and process of craft can unite makers from diverse backgrounds and spark important conversations. That’s the inspiration behind the 2018 CraftNOW theme – Making a Difference – which will be explored by artists, institutions, and visitors alike during a curated series of events and exhibitions taking place in Philadelphia from November 1–4 surrounding the Philadelphia Museum of Art Contemporary Craft Show.
The CraftNOW organization celebrates Philadelphia as an epicenter for creative works in wood, clay, fiber, metal, and glass by showcasing the city’s community of contemporary artists and world-renowned craft institutions. Get to know and meet many of these innovators at the free Making a Difference Symposium on November 2, featuring ceramicist and activist Roberto Lugo as the keynote speaker. Lugo’s experiences growing up as a poor kid in Philadelphia’s Kensington neighborhood inspire his vibrant, politically aware pottery, which will be highlighted in CraftNOW exhibitions at both The Clay Studio and Wexler Gallery in Old City. The Clay Studio’s Making a Difference: Social and Political Activism in Clay, inspiring CraftNOW’s programmatic theme for 2018, includes works by a total of 13 diverse ceramic artists, all using their creative output to respond to current events and issues.
Continue exploring the impact of craft throughout the weekend while getting hands-on at CraftNOW Create, which will include make and take demonstrations presented by Blick Art Supplies, The Center for Art in Wood, Wharton Esherick Museum, and many others. CraftNOW’s celebration of contemporary craft extends throughout Philadelphia with more than 20 exhibitions. In Poorly Watched Girls at The Fabric Workshop and Museum, visual master Suzanne Bocanegra’s large-scale performance art installations consider the ways popular entertainment depicts women in spiritual and emotional trouble. Textile artist Tasha Lewis, featured at Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens, also examines America’s culture – and its possible decline in relevance – through a series of hand-sewn busts and figures evoking the decay of ancient Greek sculpture. At The Galleries at Moore, a wide range of makers come together to survey the 25-year history of The Leeway Foundation, which amplifies the voices of women and transgender artists who use their work to spur social change. Meanwhile, The Center for Art in Wood presents a retrospective of works by pioneering woodturner Merryll Saylan, one of few women in the craft field when she began turning in the 1970s.
For more information on CraftNOW exhibitions and events this November, visit craftnowphila.org.