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  1. #1
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Chicago, IL

    "CRAFTY CULTURE" Chicago panel discussion on "

    Hi craftistas! What follows is a press release for an event I am putting together at work (Columbia College Chicago) that may finally give us crafters some serious cred as culture-makers and agents of social change. Transcripts of the discussion will be available in January for out-of-towners, but if you're in Chicago -- be there! --XOXO, Audrey Michelle,

    For Immediate Release October 7, 2005
    Media Contact: Micki Leventhal 312-344-7383
    or Elizabeth Burke-Dain 312-344-8695

    Institute for the Study of Women and Gender in the Arts and Media Presents Panel Discussion at Columbia College Chicago
    That Explores Political Implications and Possibilities of “Craftivism”

    WHAT: Crafty Culture: Feminism, Activism, and the DIY Ethic
    A panel discussion with local women active in the Chicago DIY (do it yourself) arts community: graphics professional and “craftivist” Cinnamon Cooper; Time Out Chicago magazine “Check Out” editor Annie Tomlin; and painter and poet Alejandra Velera. Moderated by Annette Ferrara, cultural content provider and managing editor of Q & A follows.

    Jane M. Saks and Audrey M. Mast of the Institute for the Study of Women and Gender in the Arts and Media are available for interviews.

    Crafting – knitting, needlepoint, beading, scrapbooking, sewing and more – can be a hobby, a way to unwind and a creative outlet. It can also be a way to reclaim traditional women’s work with a modern spin, start one’s own business, save money, reject prepackaged/sweatshop-produced merchandise, recycle, raise funds or donate goods for charitable causes, and mobilize for political action. Columbia’s Institute for the Study of Women and Gender in the Arts and Media presents a panel discussion that will explore the possibilities of “craftivism.”

    While crafting is often a solitary activity, the popularity of such groups as Stitch ’n’ Bitch, indie art/crafts fairs, magazines like ReadyMade and Web sites such as has helped likeminded women (and men) to network, exchange ideas and market their products. While these communities and media outlets mostly exist outside the mainstream media, there has been a less political, yet no less pervasive DIY lifestyle trend in mainstream media as espoused by Martha Stewart, Home Depot and the glut of domestic-themed cable TV offerings.

    Crafty culture is part of a centuries-old history of women connecting, organizing and effecting change through handicrafts. It has been suggested that during the Civil War era, African American women’s quilt designs were coded maps of the Underground Railroad. But as domestic prowess has become less of a requirement and more of a choice, modern women can approach it with a healthy dose of irreverence. Today’s indie crafters are grounded in postmodern self-awareness.

    Crafting can be examined as a new phase in the DIY phenomenon, with its ideals of empowerment, accessibility and community, which began with the self-publishing of the Beats and Situationists, mail art, pirate radio in the ’60s, the anti-consumerist politics of punk rock, the rise of independent record labels, zine culture, and the ’90s Riot Grrrl movement. Yet crafty culture may present a reverse rebellion: instead of the sharp critique of domesticity offered by second-wave feminists, contemporary crafters are embracing and celebrating the domestic arts as relevant, viable and creative work.

    What does crafty culture mean for a post-third wave generation of feminists? Why is this trend happening now – might crafts be more popular in times of war, economic downturn and political conflict? How can we channel our creative passions into activism? In an aesthetic environment obsessed with high design, what place do our handcrafted objects have – and are they truly valued in our economic system? Do they have any cultural capital? Does crafty culture attract a wide range of participants in terms of race, class and gender?

    WHEN: Thursday, November 3, 6 – 8 pm

    WHERE: Film Row Cinema theatre, 1104 S. Wabash, 8th Floor

    HOW MUCH: Free and open to the public

    Institute for the Study of Women and Gender in the Arts and Media, 312-344-8829

    The Institute for the Study of Women and Gender in the Arts and Media is a new entity at Columbia College Chicago and the first and only institute of its kind in the US. Our mission is to research, debate, archive and investigate significant societal and cultural issues related to women and gender in the arts and media.


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  3. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Thanks! I'm definitely going to try to make it!

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Richmond, VA


    Thanks audreypillow! I'm definately going to make it. I'm in Chicago 1-2 times per month and it seems I always miss the cool stuff - not this!

  5. #4
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    This is awesome. Will someone be making a print/zine of this event?
    That would be worth reading.
    Good Luck, Get Something Accomplished.

  6. #5
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Chicago, IL
    Yay! I'm so happy you ladies are interested! We will definitely offer a transcript of the event for out-of-towners, and hope that our discussion helps people take notice of craft as a radical act!

    XOXO -- Audrey

  7. #6
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    i'm definitely interested in a transcript - when it's ready could you post a link to it in this thread?

  8. #7
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Chicago, IL
    Absolutely, I will post a link here...also, if anyone is interested in signing up for the Institute's mailing list, email me at We are a brand new department and don't have a website yet, but I'm trying to develop a network of interested people anyway! -- XO, Audrey

  9. #8
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    A transcript would be fantastic...since I live the other side of the pond :)


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