Visionaries in Craft

Meet some of the powerful people and organizations working toward a more equitable and supportive craft community. Along with skill and practice, it takes vision to shape materials into beautiful objects. Similarly, there are craft artists and professionals who have the vision to want to shape an entire field.

After the tumult of the past few years—with the global pandemic, increasing climate change disasters, racial reckoning, and other shifting social dynamics—the editors of American Craft decided to honor changemakers in craft whose work not only addresses the moment, but paves the way toward a more supportive and inclusive future. The initial idea for this coverage came from the board of trustees of the American Craft Council, which is committed to justice, inclusiveness, and equity. Earlier this year, staff reached out to the broad craft community and asked for recommendations, which came pouring in.

In the following profiles, which originally appeared in our Fall 2022 issue, you’ll meet some of the folks who are directly addressing social issues, the needs of artists, and the inclusion of more diverse artists in the craft marketplace. Many of them began their work long before 2020, and its impact is now coming to fruition. Others started new initiatives more recently and are already making a difference. Here’s what the 11 people and organizations we celebrate here have in common: They took a long look at the craft world and found that it needed refashioning in certain directions—toward more equity, honesty, inclusiveness, and care. Their love for craft and its artists made them intent upon the task of making craft all that it can be in the world.

We plan to include coverage like this every other year in the magazine and online, and hope to include an increasingly diverse group of people, projects, and organizations aimed at creating a more truly democratic craft world. We welcome your suggestions here.

 

group of artists sitting around a table in india working on a series of black white and yellow patterned textiles

[Visionaries in Craft] Nest

Inspired by Muhammad Yunus’s work microlending to small businesses, in 2006 the 24-year-old Rebecca van Bergen, armed with a master’s degree in social work, decided to aid female craft artisans globally “beyond the creation of small debt,” as she puts it.
CRAFT EQUITY

[Visionaries in Craft] Craft Equity

The creators of Craft Equity identify themselves as an anonymous group of queer and racially diverse craft artists who exhibit and teach internationally.
man in red hat and jacket standing the rubble of a burned down studio

[Visionaries in Craft] CERF+ (Craft Emergency Relief Fund)

For years, when craft artists suffered major setbacks, colleagues would support their recovery by passing the hat at American Craft Council fairs. However, for glass artist Josh Simpson, ceramicist Marylyn Dintenfass, and Carol Sedestrom Ross, this wasn’t good enough.
puppeteer manipulating puppet on stage

[Visionaries in Craft] African American Craft Initiative

“As a senior curator, folklorist, and textile artist,” says Diana Baird N’Diaye, PhD, lead curator and developer of the AACI, “I noticed that throughout the craft sector African Americans were grossly underrepresented and underdocumented.
man and woman working together in studio surrounded by paintings

[Visionaries in Craft] Indigo Arts Alliance

Indigo Arts Alliance was founded in 2018 by marketing professional Marcia Minter and her husband, artist Daniel Minter—because, says Marcia, “we had experienced firsthand the marginalization of Black and brown artists.”