I wrapped April up with a bang by presenting my research at the American Craft Council's annual board meeting, in conjunction with my Emerging Voices Scholar Award. The ACC made me and my fellow winners and finalists feel like celebrities, taking our photographs for American Craft magazine and shooting footage for short video interviews. I can't wait to share the final products with you!
Leading up to this event, I had been thinking a lot about my role within the Emerging Voices group, for I was the only Scholar out of the six of us; the rest are artists. This process of reflecting upon my identity as an academic actually began during the winter, when I was presenting my research on contemporary fiber and textiles to a group of college-level studio art students. I received an inquiry during the question and answer period that caught me a bit off guard: a student asked me, “Do you make art?” To which I replied, “No, as an art historian I interpret art: I write and speak about the importance of art in relation to its historical moment, to its culture of origin, and to the longer sweep of art and theory.” Then another hand shot up, and second student interrogated: “So you don’t even knit, or crochet or quilt or anything?
Any teacher knows that you can learn as much from your students as they learn from you, and this anecdote is a classic example of this type of interchange because it prompted me to revisit the important issue of what is it is that art historians, and specifically craft historians, actually make: What are our materials and methods? What final form does our scholarship take, and where should this material by circulated? And above all, who is our audience, and how can we best serve them? The answers to such questions vary from one individual to next, and in my presentation for the board, I gave my own perspective as just one of many diverse voices emerging in the dynamic discourse surrounding craft today. After describing some formative experiences that helped me arrive at a craft consciousness, my presentation walked the board through the three case studies of my current research project. I tried to explain how they will intervene not only in so-called “craft history,” but also in the plural histor-IES of art and popular culture more broadly conceived.
This month the ACC also released the inaugural issue of their journal American Craft Inquiry. My reflection on their fall 2016 Present Tense conference is included. It's titled "A Rich Ecosystem," and I've linked the text in the cover image above and on my publications page.
Stay tuned for more posts soon - May is a big month for me!