American Craft magazine

Cover of the December January 2021 Gift Issue of American Craft

December/January 2021

The Gift Issue

From the Editor:
Unexpected Gifts

 
On my desk is an off-kilter and lightly collapsed elmwood pedestal bowl. My uncle Jerry, who started turning wood after he retired from farming, allowed me to take it after I found it in his discard box years ago. While I treasure the exquisite live-edge Russian olive bowl he gave me, it’s the imperfect one that’s captured my heart.

I can see the vision my uncle had for this piece and the work he put into it. For me, it’s a daily reminder of the importance of trying new things and learning new skills – and, like my uncle, finding joy in the process. Right now, at the end of this devastating year, that connection to joy is a true gift.

This issue explores the gifts of craft – among them, the benefits that come with making. For some artists, such as Dyani White Hawk, Sang Joon Park, and Béatrice Coron, engaging in the act of creation offers a connection to practices passed down from ancestors, an organized mind, and a flow state. For leather artist Mia Wright-Ross, making is sacred; she calls her sewing machine her altar. Jennifer Younger says creating jewelry that serves as an entry point for non-Native people who want to support Indigenous makers helps her feel stronger in her Tlingit identity. Making can connect us to our deepest humanity.

Artists also offer the gift of helping us look head-on at the difficult challenges humans face. Take Nneka Jones, an artist who creates embroidered portraits of Black people as targets and whose flag was recently on the cover of Time. Her work is beautiful and painful at the same time.

Wrapped rocks by Betsy Bauer

 

Staff members of the American Craft Council have found delight in these wrapped rocks by Betsy Bauer. As we enter winter and a season of giving, we encourage everyone to take time to see the beauty in simple things, to honor people we love with meaningful gifts, and to treasure the gifts we’ve been given.
 
Photo: Kerry Kehoe / Wrappedrockz by Betsy Bauer Studio

Despite their invaluable contributions, artists who earn a living from what they make have faced tremendous hardships this year: As of June, 94 percent reported lost income and 63 percent were fully un-employed. If ever there was a time to buy and gift the work of artists, it’s now, says American Craft Council executive director Sarah Schultz.

As someone mesmerized by the handmade since childhood, I’m so pleased to be joining the ACC and the team producing American Craft. I also want to thank former editor Megan Guerber, as well as interim creative director Brian Donahue, for leading this 79-year-old publication through a very challenging year.

While we can’t foresee what’s ahead in 2021, change is definitely on the horizon for American Craft. Starting with the spring issue, it will be published quarterly. It will also have a new look and a fresh focus on the power of craft in American life.

We hope that as you page through this issue you find moments of inspiration and unexpected gifts.

Karen Olson
Editor

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