Matchbook Heart detail, from Homeland Security series, by Michele Pred
"When we say, "No Boundaries" we mean it" is a great way to sum up the speaker lineup for the Craft Forward Conference. Not your average artist lecture series, to say the least. Neurobologist, Community Activists, Spoken Word performer, Anthropologist, Cultural Planner, Architects, Fashion Designer, Theorist, just to label a few of the speakers. And each speaker had multiple "labels" and quite the impressive CV, it made your head spin. 

Matchbook Heart from Homeland Security series, by Michele Pred

But zooming out at the big picture, thinking of the conference as a whole, doesn't it make sense to organize a conference where the speakers are offering different viewpoint to craft or perhaps a similar point from an unfamiliar angle? Why, some of the best presentations I've seen at recent conferences have been what at first glance seem to be the odd duck out, but in the end broaden my perspective of what I'm doing with craft.

Cling (binderclips wall installation) by Mitra Fabian

There's beauty in the collaborative thought process --especially when 400+ brains are sparking simultaneously in one room for two 8-hour days. So that during the breaks (yeay for catered lunches!) you're just bursting with the desire to have a dialogue with your neighbor while in line for coffee, snacks, or sandwiches. Share in the experience to have a Collective Knowledge, as Lydia Matthews summed up in the closing remarks.

What is Craft's function to us today, what are the important issues? A handful of themes kept resurfacing throughout the course of the weekend, strongest of which being the Social Capacity of Craft.

Fear Culture (installation of found,"dangerous" items confiscated by the TSA), by Michele Pred

As conference co-chair, Deborah Valoma remarked, what this conference did was it "took craft away from the margins and put it central to the conversation". That the "strongest characteristic of craft is its unruliness" and we should "not try to define craft".

Room for Recovery (tape, mixed media) by Mitra Fabian

Measuring Compliance installation (found yardsticks & school furniture, mixed media),

by Harriete Estel Berman
I must agree, trying to strap craft into a tidy definition is really pointless. However, regarding it as a vehicle for the multisensory body (we have 33 senses according to anthropologist David Howes), to give visability to social issues, and give rise to community, makes much more sense. 

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Great photos and comments from emiko.

Harriete

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