2021 Lois Moran Award Winners
2021 Lois Moran Award Winners
Meet the Winners of the
2021 Lois Moran Award for Craft Writing
See below for comments from jurors Glenn Adamson, Indira Allegra, and M. Rachael Arauz.
Velina Robinson Glass
“Moving Beyond Acknowledgment,” Metalsmith
Robinson Glass highlights the impact of systemic racism within the field of metalwork—and organizations working to dismantle it.
Velina Glass holds a BBA from Temple University and an MBA from LaSalle University and studied jewelry design and metalsmithing at the Maryland Institute College of Art. Her work experience spans over two decades as a healthcare executive with firms such as Kaiser Permanente and Cigna Healthcare. In 2004, she left the healthcare industry to focus on a career in the arts.
Currently, Glass is a resin and multimedia artist. Her work has been featured in numerous editions of Art Jewelry magazine, in 500 Plastic Jewelry Designs: A Groundbreaking Survey of a Modern Material by Lark Books, and on the cover of the Maryland Institute College of Art catalogue. In addition, she has taught courses at the Tampa Museum of Art and the Gemcutter Guild of America. She has been a contributing writer for Metalsmith, Art Jewelry, Facet, and Polymer Clay Express magazines, and she has participated in many fine craft shows over the years, most notably the Baltimore and Atlanta American Craft Shows, Velvet Di Vinci Plastics show, and Artscape. She is the former president and secretary of the Metals Guild of Maryland and the former secretary of the Gemcutters Guild of Maryland, where she also acted as the editor of their quarterly newsletter.
Comment on article:
"As a Black American, my world lens is always open to the reality of brutality and systemic racism. After the death of George Floyd, I saw the power of opening that lens to the world at large. This inspired me to question what is the effect of systemic racism within my small community of metalsmiths. The results were disheartening; however, I remain hopeful that the industry will act on my findings."
“Cozy Tech,” Real Life
Pendergrast investigates how corporations appropriate craft’s associations with “honesty” and “integrity” to cloak tech products in a veil of warmth and tactility.
Kelly Pendergrast is a writer, researcher, and media artist living in San Francisco. She writes about the social and environmental impacts of technology, material culture, and digital images for a range of publications. Her recent work explores topics including the tension between domestic utility and global supply chains, robot performance, and the aesthetics of smart objects. Kelly is the co-founder of Antistatic, a research and communications consultancy that works to bring clarity to complex issues around technology and the environment.
Aram Han Sifuentes
“How Internalized White Supremacy Manifests for My BIPOC Students in Art School,” Art Journal
Sifuentes offers sobering observations of BIPOC experiences in the classroom, which impact what artists make. Her insights have pedagogical relvance wherever craft is taught.
Aram Han Sifuentes is a fiber and social practice artist, writer, and educator who works to claim spaces for immigrant and disenfranchised communities. Her work often revolves around skill sharing, specifically sewing techniques, to create multiethnic and intergenerational sewing circles, which become a place for empowerment, subversion, and protest. Exhibitions of her work have been exhibited at Jane Addams Hull-House Museum (Chicago), Hyde Park Art Center (Chicago), Chicago Cultural Center (Chicago), Pulitzer Arts Foundation (St. Louis), MCA Denver (Denver), and Moody Center for the Arts (Houston). Her solo exhibitions, Talking Back to Power: Projects by Aram Han Sifuentes, will open at the Skirball Cultural Center (Los Angeles) in March 2022, and A System Cannot Protect Those it was Never Meant to Protect will open at moCa Cleveland in January 2022.
Aram is a 2016 Smithsonian Artist Research Fellow, 2016 3Arts Awardee, and a 2020 Map Fund Grantee. Her project Protest Banner Lending Library was a finalist for the Beazley Design Awards at the Design Museum (London) in 2016. She earned her BA in Art and Latin American Studies from the University of California, Berkeley, and her MFA in Fiber and Material Studies from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She is currently an Associate Professor, Adjunct, at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Each winner has been awarded $1,000 for their previously published work that moves the craft conversation forward.
From the Jurors
Lois Moran was not one to play favorites. Her view of craft was inclusive and egalitarian. She approached being an editor accordingly, building the field through innumerable quiet encouragements and gentle nudgings. Her goal was not to amplify her own voice, or even that of a few hand-picked associates, but to get as many people involved in the conversation as she could.
As a jury, we believe that she would approve of this inaugural award being given in her honor, not to a single voice, but to a cohort. Each of the recognized essays has something vital to say about craft, but is written from a very different perspective. Research methods vary from institutional investigation of synthetic criticism to pedagogical exploration. Subject matter is also diverse. One essay addresses the metalsmithing field (definitely craft), another the imitative practices of contemporary technology (craft-adjacent), while the third seems at first not to be much about craft at all, but is nonetheless something everyone in the field should read, for the questions it raises about identity and expression.
In recognizing all of these excellent writers, on an equal basis, we hope to send a clear signal: that carrying the craft conversation forward will be a work of many hands and many voices.
Glenn Adamson is a curator, writer, and historian based in New York. He has previously been director of the Museum of Arts and Design, head of research at the V&A, and curator at the Chipstone Foundation in Milwaukee. Adamson’s publications include Thinking Through Craft (2007), The Craft Reader (2010), Postmodernism: Style and Subversion (2011, co-edited with Jane Pavitt), The Invention of Craft (2013); Art in the Making (2016, co-authored with Julia Bryan-Wilson), and Fewer Better Things: The Hidden Wisdom of Objects (2018). His newest book is Craft: An American History, published by Bloomsbury, and he is co-host of the online interview series Design in Dialogue. Portrait courtesy of John Michael Kohler Arts Center.
As an artist, I know that the way we grow is through talking with one another—at residencies and exhibitions, in our studios, and across learning environments of all kinds. No one builds bodies of work or a career in isolation. The saying "If you want to go fast, go alone; but if you want to go far, go together" rings true here, and as such, we have chosen a cohort of thinkers for this award.
We want to move the craft conversation forward and farther than before. As people who privilege craft methodologies, we know that magical things can reveal themselves when we move slowly, considerately. And, I would encourage everyone to take a slow, considerate moment to read "How Internalized White Supremacy Manifests for My BIPOC Students in Art School" to consider how white racial logics about who or what seems "culturally authentic" might censor or discourage BIPOC students from making the artworks they need to in their studios.
"Moving Beyond Acknowledgement" highlights the impact of racism within the field of metalwork and calls our attention to organizations working to dismantle it. While focused on metalwork, the issues researched here relate importantly to the field of craft as a whole.
Finally, "Cozy Tech" offers a valuable perspective on how craft objects can be used in commercially seductive ways, challenging the idea that craft objects are always operating from a position of purity or honesty.
Together, the three of these writings can help us to think about the craft conversation from a holistic perspective: from the permission an artist gives themselves to make a work, to the craft artists' career itself, to the experience of craft objects by a consumer. It is from this place—of wanting to move the conversation forward in a holistic way—that we congratulate and offer our gratitude to the winners of the Lois Moran Award for Craft Writing.
Indira Allegra explores memorial as a genre and vital part of the human experience. Deeply informed by the ritual, relational, and performative aspects of weaving, Allegra explores the repetitive crossing of forces held under tension, be they material, social, or emotional. A leader in the performative craft movement, Allegra was winner of the 2019/2020 Burke Prize. They are a YBCA 100 Honoree, Fleishhacker Eureka Fellow, Lucas Artist Fellow, Lambda Literary Fellow, and part of ARTFORUM International’s “Best of 2020.” Portrait courtesy of the artist.
M. Rachael Arauz
For the inaugural Lois Moran Award for Craft Writing, we have chosen three significant articles that together represent powerful writing about timely and urgent topics for the field of craft. In “Moving Beyond Acknowledgement” the author investigates the systems of unearned privilege that limit academic and exhibiting opportunities for Black jewelry and metals artists. The topic is both powerfully presented and broadly relevant for the wider craft community and the larger artworld.
“Cozy Tech” elegantly observes corporate appropriation of craft’s traditional associations with “honesty” and “integrity” to cloak their information-gathering products for the home in a comforting veil of warmth and tactility. The author provocatively considers consumer vulnerability to this use of craft ideology. The article “How Internalized White Supremacy Manifests for My BIPOC Students in Art School” offers a sobering and clear-eyed observation of the BIPOC experience in the classroom which has deep pedagogical relevance for all institutions where craft is taught.
Collectively, these articles reflect personal experience, deep research, new observations on long-overdue topics, and careful attention to craft’s complicated intersections with human experience. Above all, each article reflects the skilled work of a writer, invested in their subject, to engage a new audience. It has been an honor to read the work of all the finalists, and to participate in this jury process. Congratulations to the three winners.
M. Rachael Arauz is an independent curator of modern and contemporary art, with a PhD in art history from the University of Pennsylvania. Past exhibition and publication topics have included mid-century abstraction, Mexican photography, language and text in contemporary art, non-figurative portraiture, sound sculpture, and weaving. She has organized exhibitions and contributed to museum catalogues in the United States, Mexico, and Europe. Arauz was co-curator of the 2019 exhibition In the Vanguard: Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, 1950–1969 for the Portland Museum of Art, Maine. Portrait courtesy of the artist.
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