American Craft Forum: Object Stories From the Craftscape
American Craft Forum: Object Stories From the Craftscape
Summer 2021 American Craft Forum
Thursday, June 17, 2021, via Zoom
In this American Craft Forum, we presented a series of short talks, or “object stories,” by craftspeople, craft artists, and scholars. In choosing their own stories to tell, they revealed the possibilities of thinking about objects through the lens of what writer, curator, and educator Namita Gupta Wiggers refers to as the Craftscape.
For the last 30 years, most recently as the founding director of the MA in Critical Craft Studies program at Warren Wilson College, Wiggers has been chipping away at traditional Western-based approaches to viewing, appreciating, and talking about the objects we admire in museums—and those we live with at home. Turning that monolithic art–historical approach on its head, Wiggers encourages us to think about the object not as the end-point, but as a catalyst for conversations on process, cultural and material histories, the importance of the land, biography, and narrative.
Welcome to the Craftscape.
Read more about the Craftscape in the Summer 2021 issue of American Craft. "Unearthing the Craftscape" by Anjula Razdan also features an object story by craft scholar and metalsmith matt lambert.
Object Story Contributors
Born in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico, Andres Payan Estrada currently lives and works in Los Angeles. He is an artist and curator whose practice focuses on issues revolving around contemporary craft along with material and object practices with a focus on ceramics. He is currently the curator of public engagement at Craft Contemporary and recently served as special visiting art faculty at the California Institute of the Arts.
andrespayan.com | @andres_payan
Dr. Tiffany Momon is a public historian and Assistant Professor at Sewanee: The University of the South, and founder and co-director of the Black Craftspeople Digital Archive, a black digital humanities project that centers black craftspeople, their lives, and their contributions to the making and building of America. Throughout her career, Momon has lectured on the subject of black craftspeople at organizations such as the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts, and others.
blackcraftspeople.org | @tmomonhp
Courtney M. Leonard is a Shinnecock artist and filmmaker whose work explores marine biology, Indigenous food sovereignty, migration, and human environmental impact. Leonard’s current projects articulate the multiple definitions of the term breach and investigate and document Indigenous communities’ historical ties to water, marine life, and native cultures of subsistence.
In collaboration with national and international museums, embassies, cultural institutions, and local Indigenous communities in North America, New Zealand, and Nova Scotia, Leonard’s practice centers narratives of cultural viability and the relationship between Indigenous people and the environmental record.
Leonard’s work is in the permanent collections of the United States Art in Embassies, the Crocker Art Museum, the Heard Museum, the ASU Art Museum and Ceramic Research Center, the Peabody Essex Museum, the Newark Museum, the Weisman Art Museum, the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, the Museum of the North, the Mystic Seaport Museum, the Pomona Museum of Art, the Hood Museum of Art, the Denver Art Museum, the Autry Museum and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
Leonard has been the recipient of numerous awards, fellowships, and residencies that include The Andy Warhol Foundation, The Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, The Rasmuson Foundation, The United States Art In Embassies Program, and The Native Arts and Culture Foundation.
courtneymleonard.com | @courtneymleonardart
Jovencio de la Paz is an artist, weaver, and educator. Their current work explores the intersecting histories of weaving and modern computers. Rhyming across millenia, the stories of weaving and computation unfold as a space of speculation. Trained in traditional processes of weaving, dye, and stitch-work, but reveling in the complexities and contradictions of digital culture, de la Paz works to find relationships between concerns of language, embodiment, pattern, and code with broad concerns of ancient technology, speculative futures, and the phenomenon of emergence. Jovencio is currently Assistant Professor and Curricular Head of Fibers at the University of Oregon.
jovenciodelapaz.org | @jovenciodelapaz
Alaska artist Amy Meissner combines traditional handwork, found objects, and abandoned textiles to reference the literal, physical, and emotional work of women. Her social practice fosters a repair culture by teaching clothing and textile repair as an act of prolonging, care, and accompaniment of vulnerable objects in transition. She holds undergraduate degrees in both art and textiles, an MFA in Creative Writing, and is a Critical Craft Studies MA candidate (2021) researching the craft of repair in the Circumpolar North.
amymeissner.com | @amymeissnerartist
Meet Our Forum Host
Namita Gupta Wiggers is a writer, curator, and educator based in Portland, Oregon. She is the founding director of the MA in Critical Craft Studies, Warren Wilson College, the first and only low-residency program focused on craft histories and theory. With faculty and students in multiple time zones, Wiggers maintains that understanding context and the specificity of place impacts craft practice, research, teaching, and learning. She co-founded and leads Critical Craft Forum since 2008. From 2004–12, Wiggers served as the curator, and from 2012–14 as chief curator/director of the Museum of Contemporary Craft, in partnership with PNCA, Portland, Oregon, where she developed methods to exhibit and document contemporary and historical craft, doubled the collection holdings, and developed public programs and collaborative partnerships. Like curating, her approach to research involves sorting through multiple questions at once and making connections across cultures and ideas that aren’t immediately obvious. This leads to more questions and opens space for others to take the conversation further. This bio is adapted from one written by students in the MA in Critical Craft Studies program, Class of 2021.
namitawiggers.com | @namitapdx
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