[Visionaries in Craft] Badass Cross Stitch

[Visionaries in Craft] Badass Cross Stitch

Shannon Downey
Published on Thursday, July 7, 2022. This article appears in the Summer 2022 issue of American Craft Magazine.
group of people sitting around a table outdoors working on embroidery projects

Photo by Molly Choma.

Badass Cross Stitch, says Shannon Downey, “is not an organization or a team—it’s just me.”

A few years ago Downey (below, left) quit her job, sold everything, and bought an RV. The dedicated art activist had lined up hundreds of workshops, gatherings and events (above; below, right), shows, speaking engagements, and collaborations around the country to further her fusion of fiber art, community building, and red-hot political consciousness.

portrait of artist with chin on hands holding tangle of multi-colored embroidery thread with bright red background
girl with face paint working on green fabric in embroidery hoop at a table with others

LEFT: Portrait of Shannon Downey by Gloria Araya. RIGHT: Photo by Shannon Downey.

But it was 2020, and COVID hit. She found herself living in the RV and making connections digitally. “The past two years plus,” she says, “have been one big adventure in adaptability, creativity, and pivoting.”

That creativity includes digital tutorials, a program that invites participants to learn a new stitch weekly, then meet in “virtual stitch-ups” for community and mutual learning; “Badass HERstory”—personal storytelling through art by people of marginalized genders; and a plethora of other needle-and-cloth adventures.

Doing embroidery, she says, is a way of becoming self-aware and “creating space to think substantively about real issues,” so she partners with other activists to provide online trainings on topics such as bystander intervention and “Activism 101 for Introverts.” Stitching together these concerns comes naturally for someone who describes herself as “queer, anti-racist, feminist, anti-capitalist, highly political, and committed to growth, learning, honesty, and doing whatever I can to make this an equitable world.”

badasscrossstitch.com | @badasscrossstitch

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