American Craft Forums

American Craft Forums

Come be part of the conversation around craft.

Our free, quarterly American Craft Forums bring our community together to explore new ways of thinking about craft. Tying into the themes of each issue of American Craft, these online discussions feature artists, writers, curators, community organizers, and more—diverse voices working together to move the craft field forward. Join us to gain fresh perspectives from inspiring people and their important projects.

Watch the recording of our most recent forum

View forum chat transcript | View closed captioning document

Houses Into Homes: How Craft Makes a Difference

Thursday, January 19, 2023

We kick off our 2023 year of American Craft Forums with a conversation exploring an inspiring partnership between The Furniture Society’s Craft for a Greater Good program and BeLoved Village. Through this collaboration, craft artists are contributing handmade furniture, homegoods, and more to a set of tiny homes being built in Asheville, North Carolina, for those who struggle with housing insecurity. Community is stronger with craft, and this partnership is a true, feet-on-the-ground example of the handmade making a difference in building stronger, more engaged communities.

Reverend Amy Cantrell created BeLoved Asheville with the intention of building a community for everyone, and BeLoved Village is one of many projects that she started to realize that mission. The Furniture Society’s Craft for a Greater Good program creates opportunities for the organization to contribute and give back to local communities. Thanks to a partnership with UNC Asheville’s STEAM Studio, Furniture Society members and artists Ellie Richards and Annie Evelyn were selected as Local Resident Fellows to work with Cantrell and BeLoved Village to bring handcrafted elements to this neighborhood of micro-houses. A touch of handmade is helping turn what started out as simple, quality houses into homes with a good deal of heart.

Read more about this collaboration in the American Craft Winter 2023 article "Turning Houses Into Homes."

Boy painting blue table

Photo courtesy of Beloved Village.

Moderator

Monica Hampton
Monica Hampton is the executive director of The Furniture Society. She has had a lifelong interest in the arts and education. Her background is a combination of fine arts, art history, education, and public outreach, with an emphasis on program development for museums and organizations specializing in history, fine art, craft, and design. As an independent consultant, she produced the American Craft Council’s 2016 conference among other cultural gatherings. Monica served as the director of education at The Society of North American Goldsmiths (SNAG) and was formerly the director of education at ACC. Past positions include working with the Society for Environmental Graphic Design, Metropolis Magazine, and the Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. She studied fine arts and art history at Bard College, received a dual fine arts/art history BA degree from George Washington University, and holds an MS in Museum Education from Bank Street.

In Conversation

Amy Cantrell
Amy Cantrell is one of the co-directors of BeLoved Asheville. She founded the organization in 2019 believing that building community was a key part to transforming the struggles happening all around us and that community is an art form. BeLoved is a community of people putting love into action every day bringing people from all walks of life together to create innovative solutions to some of the most challenging problems of our time: housing and food insecurity; poverty; lack of healthcare; racism; and climate change. Many of Beloved's projects work at the intersections of community, creativity, and equity. Cantrell was school educated at Converse College and Columbia Theological Seminary in Atlanta, and was "street educated" at Open Door Community in Atlanta and at BeLoved Asheville. A queer woman who loves being mom to twin eight year olds, Amy loves the color purple, playing guitar, making art, and studying movement history.
Ellie Richards
Ellie Richards is a furniture designer and sculptor interested in the role the furniture and domestic objects play in creating opportunities for a deeper connection between people and their sense of place. Ellie looks to the tradition of both woodworking and the readymade to create eclectic assemblage, installation, and objects exploring intersections of labor, leisure, community, and culture. She is currently a resident artist at Penland School of Craft from 2020-2023.
Annie Evelyn
Annie Evelyn is a furniture maker living in Bakersville, North Carolina, and teaching woodworking at Tennessee Tech University at the Appalachian Center for Crafts. Joy, laughter, and the unexpected are at the heart of Annie Evelyn's work. Employing a range of materials and processes, Evelyn uses furniture’s inherent interactive qualities and relationships with the human body to create new and surprising experiences. She has been a resident artist at the Penland School of Craft, the Windgate Resident at multiple universities, and exhibited nationally and internationally. Evelyn has been working to create community throughout her artistic practice, mentoring teens, teaching art and upholstery in community and youth centers, as well as putting on arts-based events across the country. In 2019 she co-founded Crafting the Future with a dedicated group of artists from Penland School of Craft to address the glaring lack of racial and ethnic diversity in art, craft, and design.
Brent Skidmore

Brent Skidmore serves as Associate Professor of Art & Art History, Director of Craft Studies, and Public Arts and Humanities Chair at UNC Asheville, and he is co-founder of the STEAM Studio. He received his MFA in Sculpture from Indiana University in 1990 and a BFA in Sculpture from Murray State University in 1987.

While Brent’s background is in sculpture, his primary focus has been studio furniture until recently, when he began making sculpture again. When he is not working for UNC Asheville, in the Asheville community, or assisting with STEAM Studio projects, Brent is focused on mentorship and community work focused on social change through collaborative making. He has been teaching in many capacities for 31 years at universities and many of the craft programs across the nation such as Penland, Arrowmont, Haystack, Anderson Ranch, Peter’s Valley, and here at ACC. After being out on his own running Brent Skidmore Studio for eight years, Brent returned in 2004 to full-time teaching at Kendall College of Art and Design in Grand Rapids, Michigan. In 2007, he accepted his current position at UNC Asheville where he continues to teach in the department of Art and Art History while collaborating with his peers in Engineering and Art to develop STEAM Studio @ the RAMP, a 12,000-square-foot fabrication and design lab built for interdisciplinary teams focused on collaboration and innovation.

Watch Recordings of Past Forums

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