Everyday I watch the news. Choking back tears. Staying informed. My faith in humanity hangs by a very fine thread. With this thread I try, in my own small way, to stitch the world back together. To mend the holes that hatred and ignorance have torn in the fabric of our society.
Luckily I am not alone.
Artists and crafts people all over the world are taking up needle & thread as a consious political act. Each prick of the fabric a provocation. Each thread a voice heard. Each stitch a proposal for change. Each knot binding us all together. This movement has reached a tipping point, it has momentum and its called ‘Craftivism‘.
This year writer and maker Betsy Greer published a book called “Craftivism: The Art of Craft and Activism” – an anthology that shares the work of some of the most inspiring and prolific craftivists from around the globe, in their own words. I read it in one sitting and I can finally, for the first time in my life, feel confident in answering that question adults torment us with from the time we can talk: “What are you going to be when you grow up?” Answer: A Craftivist!
Now, before have the time to say that “being a craftivist is not a responsible, realistic or viable career choice” I want to take the opportunity to share a few of the gems that really caught my eye in Greer’s book, quotes which will surely be touchstones for me going forward with my artistic practice and in my PhD research on quilting as a socially engaged practice.
“In Activism, we convince ourselves that our voice isn’t loud enough, our words aren’t important, no one will listen, people will judge… we do ourselves and others a disservice when we convince ourselves not to create and not to speak up. By holding back, we deny ourselves the opportunity to express something personal, absurd, funny, or moving. We deny others the opportunity to understand us better, to laugh, to be moved, to be inspired.” – Kim Werker
“All over the world, activists take a stand against moral injustice and social inadequacies. The very nature of fighting for justice can lead to aggression and tense situations, and artwork can bring powerful, positive messages to the community, but when craft gets involved, it seems to soften the blow so the message is both more heartfelt and quick-witted.” – Inga hamilton
“The very essence of craftivism lies in creating something that gets people to ask questions; we invite others to join a conversation about the social and political intent of our creations. Unlike more traditional forms of activism, which can be polarising, there is a back-and-forth in craftivism. As Craftivists, we foment dialogue and thus help the world become a better place, albeit on a smaller scale…” – Betsy Greer
“Traditional forms of political activism can be overwhelming, and for many people they’re simply not feasable. The fentility and familiarity of [craft] transforms political power into something more manageable.” – Jamie ‘Mr.X Stitch’ Chalmers
“Its the easiest thing in the world to create art that shocks, but [craftivism] tries to touch your heart.” – Inga Hamilton
“The gender bias [of craft] adds to its success as a political medium; one cannot help but feel kindness towards the [work], as though they had been created by a senior matriarch. Therefore, when the [work] contains a message of anger, activism, or social commentary, the impact is much greater than expected.” – Jamie ‘Mr.X Stitch’ Chalmers
“Whether expressed in craft or words, in art or on picket signs, our voice is the most powerful tool we have to effect change in ourselves and others.” – Kim Werker
“The creation of things by hand leads to a better understanding of democracy, because it reminds us that we have power.” – Betsy Greer
“…art and creativity keeps us all sane and humane. It is the most powerful tool we have to bring about positive change and social equality in society. I learned that facilitating creativity has the power to change the course of an individual’s life and massively improve their sense of worth within their own community.” – Carrie Reichardt
“Craft has the power to take down the walls we’ve spent our lives building between each other.” – Faythe Levine
“It’s amazing how together we feel when we let our guard down and talk about the struggles we have – because everyone has creative struggles, and these kinds of struggles aren’t very dissimilar to the struggles we feel when we consider speaking up about change in any area of life, whether for ourselves or on behalf of others.” – Kim Werker
“People who craft together manage to find common ground, even when it seems at first that they have nothing in common. They may come from different religions or be different ages, but crafting creates a shared dialogue between them.” – Leanne Prain
“crafters… reflect on the message they create, allowing the slowness and meditative processes of stitching to draw them into deeper contemplation of the content,” – Jamie ‘Mr.X Stitch’ Chalmers
“You are not going to take the time to stitch a text that you don’t believe in, and by stitiching it you really take ownership of the words you are creating in fabric.” – Sarah Corbett
“The fact that I make art means that I am changing the world. All of us are world changers in every little thing we do…” – Lauren O’Farrell
– This little guy is the work of Lauren O’Farrell, I adore him!
You can buy your very own copy of “Craftivism: The Art of Craft and Activism” HERE
Now get crafting!