See below for the speakers, talk titles, and abstracts for forthcoming workshop sessions and to register for individual Zoom events. Sign up here for our mailing list to be notified about upcoming talks and future calls for participation.

Fall 2021

December 1, 2021: The Industrial Handmade: Craft and Design in Pedagogy

10:00a – 12:00p EST
Via Zoom

Technical Artistry: The Industrialization of Ceramics Education in Meiji Japan (1868–1912)”
Daria Murphy · Independent Scholar

At the turn of the twentieth century, the Tokyo Vocational School was the foremost institution in Japan for educating the new generation in the scientific study of ceramics. Ceramic engineering students were trained under the tutelage of scientists, educators, and ceramic specialists to obtain a theoretical and practical education. Examining the pedagogical structure of ceramic engineering reveals that artistic training was also cultivated alongside scientific education. By contextualizing the methodology of ceramic pedagogy with quotidian endeavors—illustrated in photographs, extant ceramics, and written materials—I reveal that artistic education was interwoven with a student’s scientific study of ceramic engineering.

“Crafting Design Expertise Between India and the United States”
Vishal Khandelwal · Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of History of Art and Architecture, University of Pittsburgh

This talk focuses on the work of textile artists Nelly Sethna (1932-1992) and Helena Perheentupa (1929–2019), who were affiliated with postcolonial India’s first and most innovative design training academy, the National Institute of Design (NID), established in 1961 in the western Indian city of Ahmedabad. Trained at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan between 1958 and 1960, Sethna and Perheentupa inaugurated the NID textiles design program in 1968. The talk first elaborates the transnational context within which Sethna and Perheentupa borrowed from abstraction, minimalism, and global folk and vernacular arts to make designs for their everyday textiles. It then analyzes the Jawaja Rural University Project, a rural development program initiated in the mid-1970s by the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A), and in which Perheentupa was a core participant. As part of the Jawaja Project, NID designers such as Perheentupa and management professionals from the IIM-A taught rural populations in the western Indian region of Jawaja how to make new crafts products and market the same to domestic and international consumers. Attentive to the intersection between village crafts economies and urban academic knowledge, the talk discusses the successes and failures of the Jawaja Project to illustrate discrepancies between envisioned goals and design practice. Through the example of everyday textiles designed by Perheentupa and her NID students for rural Jawaja participants to weave, the presentation suggests that our understanding of minimalism and abstraction alters when we approach these through design pedagogy, crafts, and their marketing for consumers and tourists. The Jawaja Project exemplifies how conceiving forms, making crafts, and imparting skills overlapped with cross-cultural exchanges in design and management education during the mid-to-late twentieth century, leading to the configuration of the designer as a manager and mediator in postcolonial India.

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December 15, 2021: Material Knowledge

12:00p – 2:00p EST
Via Zoom | Register

Parelmoerwerkers and Plasticity: Material Literacy in Early Modern Dutch Craft”
Cynthia Kok · PhD Candidate, Art History, Yale University

How is the process of making also a process of making sense? In seventeenth-century Amsterdam, unfamiliar resources like mother-of-pearl challenged the imagination of Dutch makers. Through handling such a material directly, artists learned about its plasticity—how it could be physically and conceptually manipulated. As the Dutch East India Company (Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie or VOC) established global trade networks, mother-of-pearl became increasingly available throughout the Netherlands. Close study of how makers thought with mother-of-pearl complicates mother-of-pearl’s categorization as a natural wonder and re-situates the material as a commercialized resource, a researched specimen, and an artistic medium for the early modern. Craftspeople found ways to integrate the unusual plasticity of mother-of-pearl into a continuum of objects, from nautilus cups to still-life paintings, panel inlays to engraved snuffboxes. Examining the ways in which artists worked from the shell, we can better understand how tactile and sensory competency guided artistic methods and generated knowledge of materials.

“Art, Craft, Ecology, and Aesthetics: Ideas on Basketry in Japan”
Daniel Niles · Associate Professor, Geography, Research Institute for Humanity and Nature, Kyoto

This paper examines the intersections of craft, art, and aesthetic sensibility in general, arguing that these fields act together as an important mode of social communication. As a fundamental technology enabling many landscape-based livelihood practices, traditional basketry in particular expresses and conveys important material-ecological knowledge. Examining basketry in Japan, where its material record extends for more than 7000 years, this paper suggests that the persistence of certain basket techniques and types is linked to the persistence of bodies of material-ecological knowledge. I suggest that this ecological knowledge is often communicated in the aesthetic realm, which is not “decorative” or additional to other more substantial concerns, but instead acts as a kind of code indicating essential techniques of life in particular places. In this sense, aesthetic experiences act to unify sense of self, community, place, and environment in a tight set of overlapping complementary associations. I suggest that such experience is significant to cultural coherence, persistence, or resilience through time, and so also to the material crisis of the Anthropocene.

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Spring 2022

January 12, 2022: Textiles, Identity, and the Marketplace

10:00a – 12:00p EST
Via Zoom | Registration link forthcoming

Ribbon Skirts and Baskets: Indigenous Femininity in Canadian Centennial Exhibitions”
Lisa Binkley · Assistant Professor, Department of History, Dalhousie University

“West African Artisanal Tailoring as Clothing- and Identity-Making”
Elizabeth Ann Fretwell · Assistant Professor of African History, Old Dominion University

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January 26, 2022: Beyond the Craftsperson: Craft and the Agency of Materials

10:00a – 12:00p EST
Via Zoom | Registration link forthcoming

A ‘Suave Combat’? Distributed Agencies between Matter, Artisan, and Workshop in Early Modern Venetian Glassworking”
Emily Hyatt · Research Assistant, Heidelberg Center for Cultural Heritage, Heidelberg University

“Materiality in Mexico’s Arte Popular: Amate as a Case Study”
Estefania Sanchez · Independent Scholar

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February 9, 2022: Labor and Landscape in the United States

10:00a – 12:00p EST
Via Zoom | Registration link forthcoming

Fruitful Ground: Craft, Nature, and Whiteness”
Matthew K. Limb · PhD Candidate, History of Art and Architecture, University of California Santa Barbara

Broom-Making in Immigrant, Incarcerated, and Disabled Communities of the Early 20th-Century U.S.”
Rebekah Edwards · Associate Professor of Digital and Critical Pedagogies at California College of the Arts

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February 23, 2022: Crafting Histories and the Present

10:00a – 12:00p EST
Via Zoom | Registration link forthcoming

Crafting the Patawomeck Eel Pot: History, Survivance, and Culture”
D. Brad Hatch · NEPA/Cultural Resources Media Manager, U.S. Department of the Navy

“‘A Map is Not the Territory’: Unsettling Craft Histories in Shaped by the Loom
Hadley Jensen · Research Fellow in Southwest Modernism, Lunder Institute for American Art; Research Associate, Division of Anthropology, American Museum of Natural History

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March 9, 2022: The Lure of Rural Craft

10:00a – 12:00p EST
Via Zoom | Registration link forthcoming

“Rural Craft Production in Britain and Ireland: The Travel Diaries of Margery Kendon”
Thomas Cooper · PhD Candidate and Pigott Scholar, History of Art, University of Cambridge

“Julia Keiner and the Search for Localism at the New Bezalel”
Noga Bernstein · Marie Sklodowska-Curie Postdoctoral Fellow, Hebrew University in Jerusalem

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March 23, 2022: The Crafts in War and Displacement

10:00a – 12:00p EDT (please note shift to U.S. Daylight versus Standard time)
Via Zoom | Registration link forthcoming

Renewing, Repairing, Remembering: Craft in Jewish and Baltic Displaced Persons Camps, 1945–1951″
Alida Jekabson · Curatorial Assistant, Museum of Arts and Design, New York

A New Focus on War Lace: Approach, Framework and Methodology”
Wendy Wiertz · Senior Research Fellow, Department of History, English, Linguistics and Music, University of Huddersfield

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April 6, 2022: Mobilities of Craft Knowledge

10:00a – 12:00p EDT
Via Zoom | Registration link forthcoming

Formalisation and Informalisation: Julaha Handloom Weavers in Colonial North India”
Santosh Kumar Rai · Professor of Modern Indian History, University of Delhi

A Transitional Artisan: Reclaiming Multiplicity in the Craft Making in Deccan India”
Rajarshi Sengupta · ​​Assistant Professor of Fine Arts, Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur

“Journeying Artisans and Circulating Craft Practices”
Valerie Nur · Research Associate to the Chair for Anthropology in Africa, University of Bayreuth

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April 20, 2022: Craft Politics in Imperial, Soviet, and Contemporary Central Asia

10:00a – 12:00p EDT
Via Zoom | Registration link forthcoming

Crafting Futures: Dismantling and Rebuilding Histories Together”
Rathna Ramanathan, Joseph Pochodzaj, Tom Simmons, and Eleanor Dare · Central Saint Martins, Royal College of Art, Cambridge University

The Making and Unmaking of Craft in late Imperial Russia and the Soviet Union”
Sohee Ryuk · PhD Candidate, History, Columbia University

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May 4, 2022: The Maker’s Hand: Digital Craft

10:00a – 12:00p EDT
Via Zoom | Registration link forthcoming

Shiny New Toys: A History of Digital Technology in Canadian Post-Secondary Craft”
Lynne Heller, Dorie Millerson, and Kathleen Morris · OCAD University

“Conceptualising Amateur Filmmaking as Digital Craftivism in Queer Disabled Contexts”
Jenna Allsopp · PhD Candidate, History of Design, University of Brighton

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May 18, 2022: Like/As/Is: Metaphor, Empathy, and 20th-Century Politics

10:00a – 12:00p EDT
Via Zoom | Registration link forthcoming

“Art between Text and Textile: The Deployment of Fiber in the Southern Cone”
Jacqueline Witkowski · Visiting Assistant Professor, Massachusetts College of Art and Design

‘Sometimes I feel that if I am intimate enough with the object it will come alive’: Crafting Empathy in the Late Twentieth Century”
Rachael Schwabe · Independent Scholar

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Image Credits:
Top: Embroidered panel, Persia, c. 1610–40. Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.
Bottom: Small egg basket, made by Ira Blount, late 20th–early 21st century. Anacostia Community Museum, Smithsonian Institution.

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