Craft Forward, Session 2: Body Craft - How do Bodies Shape Craft? How has craft shaped collective Bodies?

Artists Lauren Kalman, Allyson Mitchell

The women artist speakers during this session both used craft as action and object, either directly using the body as the canvas for the work, replicating the body, or to question the social construction of gender. As Lauren posed the question in contemplating her own work, "is it gross or beautiful?" (not unlike this image, left, of the BodyCraft Xpress machine, which seems more like a medieval torture device).


Lauren Kalman - Health and Beauty: Intersections Between Consumer Objects, Fashion, and Images of Illness

Blooms, Efflorescence, and Other Dermatological Embellishments (Wart)

Blooms, Efflorescence, and Other Dermatological Embellishments

(Herpes Zoster)

This series replicates and transforms disease as jeweled infections, lesions, and soars. Hybridizations of objects associated with beauty, status, or wealth, and the grotesque or undesirable aspects of the skin. Lauren is inspired by historic, medical photographs and how the body is in service of the image. Creating objects to be in service of producing images. She is interested in where boundaries are not clearly defined between ideal and non ideal bodies.

historical, medical photo of female with Elephantitis

Spectacular  Inkjet print, fabric

Hard Wear (Oral Rims)

Hard Wear installation, OSU

Lauren does a lot of installation pieces, to include her photography, video (of performance with the objects), and objects in an environment. I appreciate her vision for a complete viewer experience in a gallery space. Often I find myself at jewelry exhibitions (especially in museum shows with elaborate pieces) wishing I could see how the piece looked on a body, not dead in a run-of-the-mill plexi case. People rumble on and on about Craft Vs. Art, and perhaps if more artists/curators thought through the presentation of work like Lauren does, then perhaps it would no longer be a debate.

makeup image from

Projection (Earring) Digital print, gold-plated electroformed copper, foam, gold, pearls, cubic zirconium

Gold is a material imbued with myth. Its brilliance, indelibility and non-corrodible surface have come to signify beauty, purity and immortality. To appropriate these qualities, cultures have adopted the application of gold to the body. In modern societies it can be argued that jewelry is worn as a visual, aesthetic extension of the internal desire for perfection. In contrast, I present gold jewelry as a vehicle to amplify taboo aspects of the body.”

Hard Wear (Aural, Oral, Digital Gems)

Lauren Kalman at opening night of Craft Forward

Allyson Mitchell after her presentation at Craft Forward

Allyson Mitchell - Q is for Craft: Deep Lez Crafting in a Material World

Nothing relieves a sqeamish audience more than brownies and Sasquatches!

"Brownies is how I learned to make art", queer artist and activist Allyson Mitchell states right from the start. Nothing beats a bit of humor and a bit of self mocking in a presentation, right? Truly entertaining and well-spoken, Allyson had my complete attention and it seemed that the audience perked up as well as she took us on a furry adventure, "reweaving abandoned craftwork from thrift stores, activating the stories embedded in materials". Or maybe I'm just a sucker for the soft, cuddly, and anything in pink faux fur.

Venus of Nudelesque

From inspiration to artist to Lady Sasquatch, to an entire room of female sasquatches!

"Reverse Airbrushing" or "Sasquatching the [female] form"

Ladies Sasquatch coven

What is acceptable or unacceptable standards of femininity, she asks?

Ladies Sasquatch (detail: Margo and Emma)  Plush Pinups

Yes, more stuffed animals, it is an underlying craft theme i guess - but pink corduroy with teats, aaahhhh! Or this crazy hair-ears squirley girl with threatening monsters in the background that apparently were hard to keep people's hands off of during exhibition. 

Ladies Sasquatch (detail: Chelsey, Maxy and Tawny)

How about a tent-sized vagina, a "Vagina Dentata", part trance chill room, part knitter's paradise, where you can "sit and contemplate appetites out of control"...

Hungry Purse installation (it was recently shown at the Society for Contemporary Craft)

Granny Square Wreck Room

So many discarded thrift store handicrafts, but in the end wrecked havoc with Allyson's health, dealing with years of mold and other undesirable aspects of used bedding. Don't try this at home, folks!

On a lighter note, I got a chuckle from her take on the masculine Trucker Nutz car accessory with her Goddess Balls (below) that rode around on the back of a school bus.

All in all, this hour and a half session was a highlight of my day: pushing comfort levels, poking fun, and women fully embracing craft. Watch out world, Big Trubs is a-comin'!

Big Trubs


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Replies to This Discussion

Emiko fabulous job covering both artists.

I is interesting that you liked Allyson Mitchell's lecture.

during the lecture, I kept thinking about the dusty, musty smell from those old afghans....cooties!!!!!

It was very honest of her to admit (at the end of her lecture) that it was giving her health problems. This should be a warning for all artists and makers. Who would have thought that old bedspreads, afghans, stuffed animals and fake fur would cause  problems? 

Artists and makers can never be too careful with exposure to their medium.

The readers of Emiko's post, can read my review of Body Craft which took a completely different angle.






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