Craftivism: Reclaiming Craft & Creating Community
Lawton Gallery, University of Wisconsin-Green Bay
This show was very successful in describing the term Craftivism. Not only were the works displayed effectively, but the exhibition catalog, sign, and various interactive areas of the exhibition formed a cohesive and interesting show that anybody walking in could learn a lot from. Faythe Levine, the guest curator, had mentioned to me that this was a much more formal space than she was used to working in. I think that was beneficial to the artwork because it proves that the work can stand on its own in a traditional gallery setting. At the same time, Faythe organized the display to create an environment that was softer and less sterile than, for example, the last show. This invited the viewer to feel comfortable and to spend time learning and creating rather than simply viewing and internalizing responses.
One of the places viewers could spend time was in the center seating area. I found it interesting that the pillows on the couches were part of the show, bridging the gap between art and life, as so much of Craftivism does. The bookshelves, zine display, and coffee table were very inviting and worked perfectly. The rug and plants added to the inviting feel.
Even better were the two sections where gallery visitors could actually make something! The collaborative collage and crochet areas were exciting, and brimming with activity during the opening. I think everybody liked the fact that they could cut up Art Forum magazines. And having the crochet patterns available for the counterfeit crochet bags that were actually in the exhibition spoke to the community aspect of Craftivism—sharing ideas, information, and art.
Another part of the show that spoke to the creating community aspect were the photographs of the wrapped gas station. That was an interesting concept, and it was good that we had an actual piece of the wrapping on display, instead of only photographs. Also, the fact that we had information about the International Fiber Collective’s next project added to the interactiveness of this show.
I helped install the wall of photographs above the crochet station as part of my major in Gallery/Museum Practices at the UWGB. Faythe directed Christina and I on how she wanted it done, and it was a little difficult because all three of us had a different vision of it, so it was interesting communicating with each other and finding that common ground and understanding. I believe Faythe went back and slightly changed part of it in the end, which is great since it shows the level of commitment she has toward her vision. Faythe was wonderful to work with and it was nice to learn about her ways of doing things.
Other things I helped with included painting, hanging the quilt squares, hanging the Lisa Solomon piece (which was extremely difficult), a few of the labels, and I swept the floor at the end. I was sort of observing when they were installing some of the lighting, most notably lighting the quilt squares, and they did a really good job of it since textiles can be hard to light with the quality of the surface and the shadows the works cast. Overall the lighting looked good to me.
Other details that I enjoyed about the exhibition included the yellow color of several of the walls, which I think added to the inviting feel of the show. Also the video aspect and the three little rooms you constructed meshed well together. And I liked that we had Faythe’s book for sale, because that gave viewers a chance to take something away from this exhibition that didn’t cost a lot of money.
Overall I can’t say anything negative about this show. It was conceived of and executed well, and I learned a lot from it. What I liked the most was that anybody entering the gallery, whether they knew anything about Craftivism or not, could learn something from this exhibition. I personally find the intersection between the traditional art world and the indie craft world very interesting. I think this was a very successful show and was glad to be part of it.