CRAFT AS SOCIAL JUSTICE

Art can't change the world, but it can change the world we live in. The creative impulse is often shaped by the way an artist/maker/designer/architect sees their surroundings and responds to the influences of politics, economy, identity, labor and equality. Craft as Social Justice is a theory based seminar at California College of the Arts. In it we looked at how object making and activism intersect in order to propose solutions and open up dialogue about social justice. From the socialist origins of the Arts and Crafts movement through to the craftivist practices of today, we examined how the object oriented strategies of Craft and Design have always connected to politics and everyday life in order to turn objects into agents for social change.

In the Fall of 2016, eleven undergraduate students at California College of the Arts created their own online exhibitions focusing on craft and a social justice issue of their choosing. Click on any of the images below to see the exhibitions.

Break the Injustice algorithm

Empathy is not agreement, it is collective understanding that we are all worthy and uniquely human. We need to shatter our expectations and our socially algorithmic thinking to develop new and dynamic conversations.

all labor is a form of art not yet recognized

This exhibition looks at the work of women artists and makers who subvert the traditional use of textiles by using them as a tool of resistance to capitalism and patriarchal systems. These objects act as evidences to document women’s participation in art, culture and politics from the twentieth century to the present time.

Dress to oppress

This exhibit investigates gender roles in fashion as influenced by capitalism and the patriarchy. Through historically shifting ideas of masculine and feminine clothing, we investigate the arbitrary nature of gendering clothing and the ways gendering clothing today has perpetuated oppressive gender roles.

REdefining the california clay revolution: edith heath as teacher

Edith Heath's work as a teacher in the Bay Area reflected her position as a feminist dedicated to applying radical politics and environmental sustainability to the field of ceramics. This exhibition examines how Bay Area ceramics education could have been revolutionized by women in the field, had they been given the opportunity.

Margins of Power: Black Artists Reimagining America's Racial Landscape

Racism in America is multifaceted, and its oppressive power often travels through invisible channels. In order to dismantle this complex issue, we must help each other better our understanding of how racism works, how it affects others, and how we as individuals are implicated.

Embodying the message

Mexico's current socio-political situation offers opportunities to learn from the Chile's history of dictatorship and social protest. I propose a collaboration between the Chilean Arpillerista Movement and the traditional Huipil in Mexico.

Justice for the Indigenous

The rights, history and culture of indigenous peoples, especially those of America and Australia are neglected and mostly forgotten. Through craft, artists have managed to bring awareness to indigenous issues and preserve valuable pieces of their culture.

tHese Gender "Rolls" Taste Disgusting

This exhibition challenges the gender roles that our society and culture ingrains into us. These gender roles extend into crafts such as embroidery and needlework. We take a look at artists who reclaim the craft to spark conversation on topics such as stereotypes, queer theory, hyper-masculinity, societal misogyny, and denial of male sensitivity.


Art as a form of healing

This exhibition shares examples of works done by disabled individuals through art therapy and other organization for society to understand what they are feeling and thinking from their experiences. I hope that ables would be empathetic and inspired to engage disabled individuals into the community using art therapy programs.

he, She, What's in between and what does it mean

This body of work illustrates the parallels between societal norms and art practice in terms of acknowledging the past while overcoming obstacles and redefining the future. As artistic technique and conceptual imagery change so does the maker and the reasoning behind their work.

Mending as Ethic and Aesthetic

This project aims for rebranding mending and reconsidering our relationship to objects we buy, own and trash, through tactility of craft and craftivism, which also help visualize the importance of respecting and appreciating what we have, keep it longer and mend, just like the human relationship.

Craft as Social Justice is a Fall 2016 undergraduate 300 level Visual Studies course at California College of the Arts taught by Erik Scollon. VISST-300 seminars continue developing students' visual analysis and research skills while providing students the opportunity for in-depth study of the visual/structural artifacts associated with a particular topic, region, or movement. Students will also engage with the relevant primary/secondary literature for the specific topic/theme. Courses will pay particular attention to the larger cultural, historical, and theoretical/ideological contexts in which the visual artifacts and structures under consideration were created.


We would like to extend our gratitude to those who assisted us in realizing this exhibition. A hearty thank you to Jordana Moore Saggese for making it possible for this class to happen at California College of the Arts. We appreciate the guidance of Daniel Ransom, Instructional Services Librarian, with his help on our research and information literacy, and Lisa Conrad, Digital Scholarship Librarian, and her assistance with our web-based exhibition. Brooke Hessler, the director of the Learning Resource Center helped us organize our thoughts and made sure the words on the page read as well as they sounded inside our heads. We would also like to thank Namita Gupta Wiggers, of Critical Craft Forum, for helping us guide our thoughts and connect our ideas to the political moment.

CRAFT AS SOCIAL JUSTICE