When people think of activism often times they picture angry crowds at a rally or in a picket line. Perhaps they conjure an image of a group of Black youth in the 1960’s sheltering themselves from a high velocity fire hose or a sole Chinese man standing defiantly and humbly before a line of tanks in Tiananmen Square. These forms are incredibly powerful and have a long-standing place in the world of political protest. However, some folks have been searching for new ways to express their dissent and raise the public’s awareness concerning injustice.
Craftivism is one example of an alternative form of activism. This new movement is centered on the practice of craft and utilizing craft to make a political statement or support a social justice issue. One recent and incredibly creative project under the rubric of craftivism is the Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef. It is a model of the Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest coral reef system located off the coast of Australia, and is made entirely from crocheted wools, cottons, plastics, and other yarns.
Global warming and plastic pollutants are causing the “bleaching” of the reef and many parts of it are dying. The founders of the Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef project simulate the Reef and the colorful organisms that are dependant on it with craft. Through crocheting they raise awareness about the plight of corals, global warming, and human consumption.
What does protest look like? What is the potential impact of alternative formats such as craftivism? Are they taken as seriously as other “traditional” forms? Do they have a wider or more narrow appeal? By encouraging women to take up knitting or crocheting as a form of activism, is craftivism a way of honoring and utilizing what is typically cast as “women’s work,” or is it another example of women upholding the status quo? How do issues of race and class complicate craftivism? Where do men fit into this movement? Is knitting a “sweater” for a tree or crocheting an anemone figure a subversive act?
Join us this week as we explore whether craftivism has the potential to affect social change.
For more informaiton, please contact Kristin Millikan at 312.422.5580.