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CraftPerspectives | Symposium: Craft and Social Practice

May 18 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM


Free and open to the public! Space is limited, be sure to book your tickets early through Eventbrite:


This symposium is in conjunction with Open Engagement, an international conference that explores socially engaged art making organized by Portland State University’s Art and Social Practice MFA concentration. Craft and Social Practice is a project of Museum of Contemporary Craft that will explore the role of craft-based media and technique in relation to social practice. In recent decades, many artists have turned to an interdisciplinary approach to making that draws from a range of materials and processes. The use of handcraft with project-based works has become an increasing trend. Perhaps rooted in the counterculture and DIY movements of the 20th century, craft has become a compelling vehicle to bring together collaborators to engage in social work, ranging from critical resistance to collaborative gesture.

This symposium seeks to explore: How can practices that have traditionally emphasized the production of objects play a part in a contemporary art movement that is invested in dialogue and the social as a means of production? What is it about craft-based media that is appealing to socially-engaged artists and how is it being engaged? How has craft always been a social practice, from workshop to dining table?

The symposium will be presented in three sections:

10:00am – 12:00pm: A Roundtable Conversation featuring guest artists Gabriel Craig, Ayumi Horie, Stacy Jo Scott of Craft Mystery Cult, and Michael Strand.</strong> Moderated by Namita Gupta Wiggers, Director and Chief Curator, Museum of Contemporary Craft.
Venue: The Lab at MoCC</p>

12:00 – 1:00pm: Paper bag Lunch Breakout Discussion Sessions.</strong></p>

Discussion 1: How can artists bring the past forward, using craft as a framework to leverage a broad cultural legacy in the production of contemporary work? Moderated by Ayumi Horie and Stacy Jo Scott.
Venue: Gallery 135 (135 NW Park Ave., across the street from MoCC)

Discussion 2: What is the position of the artist and of the audience within project-based works that grant objects—or their production—social agency? Moderated by Michael Strand and Gabriel Craig.
Venue: The Lab at MoCC

3:00 – 4:30pm: SMART STRATEGIES: A Participatory Workshop with Carole Lung, aka Frau Fiber.</strong></p>

In her book Waste and Want: A Social History of Trash, Susan Strasser traces the “progressive obsolescence” of clothing and other consumer goods to the 1920s. Before then, and especially during World War I, most clothing was repaired, mended, tailored to fit other family members, or recycled within the home as rags or quilts. Today, globalization has made it possible to produce clothing at increasingly lower prices, prices so low that many consumers consider this clothing to be disposable. Call it “fast fashion,” the clothing equivalent of fast food.

Fast fashion leaves a pollution footprint: Americans throw away more than 68 pounds of clothing and textiles per person per year; Seven billion pounds per-year of used clothing is sold in more than 100 countries.

Using the T-shirt as a “natural resource” this workshop will explore the potential of crochet, rope making, and basket weaving to address the surplus of Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles (SMART), and explore how objects generated from these skills and materials can be reintegrated into everyday life.

Tickets for this event are free and open to the public. Register for Open Engagement through Eventbrite. Space is limited so arrive early!

Gabriel Craig is a Detroit-based metalsmith, writer, and craft activist, whose performative use of craft engages diverse audiences in discussions about self-sufficiency, labor, consumption, and tradition. His studio work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, and has appeared in numerous books and magazines. Craig’s critical writing has appeared in prominent craft publications including Metalsmith, American Craft, and FiberArts magazines. He has held residencies at the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft and Savannah College of Art and Design. Craig received his BFA in Metals/ Jewelry from Western Michigan University and his MFA in Jewelry and Metalworking from Virginia Commonwealth University. Gabriel’s work can be found online at

Ayumi Horie grew up in the 1970’s in Maine. She learned to love working with her hands early on as her Japanese family fished, gardened, cooked, and often visited the beach. With a childhood like this, it’s only natural that Ayumi grew up to become a studio potter. Recently, she relocated back to Maine from the Hudson Valley of New York. She has taught workshops and given lectures at many universities, art centers, and residencies in the U.S. and abroad, and her work is in various collections throughout the US. In the fall of 2008, Ayumi curated and organized Obamaware, a ceramics auction that raised $10,843.54 for the Obama/Biden campaign. In 2011, just after the Great East Japan earthquake, she co-founded Handmade For Japan, which to date has raised over $102,000 for disaster relief in Japan. Ayumi’s work can be found online at

Carole Lung, aka Frau Fiber, is a textile worker and activist. As Frau Fiber, Carole has created site-specific performances of garment production labor in United States, Germany, and Ireland. In 2006, at Mess Hall in Chicago, IL, she began, the Sewing Rebellion, a national campaign to STOP SHOPPING AND START SEWING. Today, chapters have been established nationwide, and Carole has continued with additional projects such as the Pedal Powered Sewing Machine, (2007, New Orleans), Walking/Weaving, (2008, New York), and KO Enterprises: High Performance Apparel Production, (2010, Museum of Contemporary Craft). Carole has been awarded numerous grants and fellowships, and currently, she is an assistant professor in the Art Department at California State University, Los Angeles.

Stacy Jo Scott is an artist based in Oakland, CA. She is a graduate of Cranbrook Academy of Art and a member of the Craft Mystery Cult performance collaborative. Her work has recently been shown at Roots & Culture Contemporary Art Center in Chicago, The Sculpture Center in Cleveland and Dalgleish Cadillac in Detroit. Publications include the Journal of Modern Craft Blog, Bad at Sports Contemporary Art Talk, and Ox-Bow School of the Arts Blog. She also co-curated the exhibition New Morphologies at The Schein-Joseph International Museum of Ceramic Art at Alfred University. Her work can be found online at and

Michael J. Strand is a North Dakota based artist and activist. Formatively a potter, Michael’s work has moved seamlessly into social practice while remaining dedicated to the traditional object as he investigates the potential of craft as a catalyst for social change. Strand’s work has been published internationally, with articles in Ceramics Technical, Studio Potter, Hemslojen, The Chronicle of Higher Education and Public Art Review. His recent Artstimulus projects were cited in 40 Under 40: Craft Futures by Renwick Gallery curator Nicholas Bell, and his project The Misfit Cup Liberation Project was launched at The Plains Art Museum in Fargo, ND. Strand’s work can be found online at

Namita Gupta Wiggers is Director and Chief Curator of Museum of Contemporary Craft in partnership with Pacific Northwest College of Art. Since 2004, Namita Gupta Wiggers has directed the exhibitions, permanent collection, and public programming operations of MoCC. Her curatorial work combines her experience and training as an art historian, a museum educator, ethnographer and design researcher, teacher, writer, and studio art jeweler. Wiggers has organized dozens of exhibitions, and has authored a number of publications for the Museum as well as other institutions. Wiggers is co-founder of Critical Craft Forum which connects artists, academics, and museum professionals through annual programs and dialogue.

About Open Engagement: Open Engagement is an international conference that sets out to explore various perspectives on art and social practice and expand the dialogue around socially engaged art making. The Open Engagement conference is an initiative of Portland State University’s Art and Social Practice MFA concentration. Directed and founded by Jen Delos Reyes and planned in conjunction with the Art and Social Practice students, this year’s conference features keynote presenters Claire Doherty, Tom Finkelpearl, and Michael Rakowitz.

About Museum of Contemporary Craft: Founded in 1937, Museum of Contemporary Craft (MoCC) in partnership with Pacific Northwest College of Art is a vibrant center for investigation and dialogue that helps expand the definition and exploration of craft. Through dynamic exhibitions and provocative public programming, supported by the Museum’s collection and archives, the Museum advances the conversation on the role of craft and design in contemporary culture while at the same time honoring the history of the studio craft movement.