Center gets crafty
Hand.Craft.It exhibition, handmade market and music festival slated for Saturday
By Kathryn Purcell
This ain't your grandmother's arts and crafts.
The Madison-Morgan Cultural Center's current exhibition, hand.craft.it., features works that involves sewing, embroidery and crocheting. The building's galleries aren't filled with results of a quilting circle, though; instead, they are filled with a nod to the Indie Craft Movement.
Born in the late 1990s, according to the exhibit's Narrative Wall Text written by Christy Petterson and provided by Cultural Center curator Angela Nichols, the Indie Craft Movement began when crafters started taking what once was considered to either be an old-fashioned woman's hobby or very high-end, and modifying motifs and attitudes to fit their desire to create. In the process, with the help of the internet, they created a community where they could connect and communicate as well as make a profit.
The attitude of "Do It Yourself" (DIY) is prevalent in the Indie Craft Movement. Here, though, it takes on a different, more socio-economic, meaning.
"It's an ability to make things happen without corporate support, to create and run a small business, to make clothes instead of buying those made in a sweatshop, to refinish that junk from the side of the road into a beautiful dining table, to grow vegetables instead of buying those shipped from another time zone, to give up the security of an office day job and work from the studio," the Narrative Wall Text reads.
Nichols echoes this idea.
"These days, consumers are becoming more cautious about what they buy," Nichols said. "Indie craft makers sell directly to consumers. Interest behind the Indie Craft Movement has been because people have direct interaction with the crafters...Also, the whole eco-friendly, green movement plays a big role. They [crafters] are extra cautious where materials come from."
And Nichols, also an indie crafter, is the impetus behind the Cultural Center's latest exhibit, and all that it entails - a documentary film screening, handmade market and music festival this weekend.
"When Judy Barber [the Cultural Center's current director] got here and I was just getting to know her...I told her all about the indie craft shows in Atlanta," Nichols said. "When I was telling her about all this, she said we should have an indie craft exhibit at the Cultural Center."
After gaining approval from the Center's Visual Arts Committee, Nichols enlisted her husband, Ryan Sterritt, and friend, Kristen Bach, both of whom are knowledgeable about/part of the Indie Craft Movement, to become fellow curators of the exhibit. Each of the three chose artists to invite to participate, reaching out to even the most famous of indie crafters. After narrowing it down, as all 30-something of the crafters they asked to participate accepted, there are a total of 17 artists with work on display at the Cultural Center.
"We kind of went after the superstars of the Indie Craft world and, to our surprise, they enthusiastically accepted," Nichols said.
To further promote hand.craft.it., Nichols planned for a handmade market (where crafters will be selling their wares; Nichols invited all of the crafters from the Indie Craft Experience in Atlanta) and music festival, set to take place this Saturday, December 13 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Cultural Center.
Aside from the exhibit and the handmade market, which will be open throughout the day, a 20-minute clip from the not-yet-released documentary on the Indie Craft Movement, "Handmade Nation," will be shown at 1 p.m. and bands Hope for Agoldensummer, Ola Podrida and Bowerbirds will be playing through the afternoon - Hope for Agoldensummer at 3 p.m., Ola Podrida at 5 p.m. and Bowerbirds at 7:30 p.m.
Refreshments will be served in the Hall, where there will also be hands-on activities for children from noon to 4 p.m., including printmaking and creating duct tape wallets.
Additionally, the first 100 people who enter the handmade market this Saturday will receive SWAG (that's "Stuff We All Get") bags. The bags themselves were created and donated by Nu-Art Printers, and will be filled with promotional items as well as some actual handmade pieces.
Nichols has no idea about Saturday's expected turnout. The Cultural Center marketed the event heavily in Athens and Atlanta, from the Sunday edition of the Athens Banner-Herald to Flagpole to Creative Loafing, according to Nichols.
"We did a lot of contacting bloggers, music people," Nichols said. "We put posters in all the independent music stores and bookstores."
Nichols admits that fans of the Indie Craft Movement aren't exactly the Cultural Center's niche audience, but hopes that this exhibit and event appeals to the young and old alike, and that all will come out to the Cultural Center Saturday.
"It's not an audience we normally go after, but it's an audience we desire to serve," Nichols said. "We need to appeal to the young and still serve the base we already have established."
For more information on hand.craft.it, whether it's the exhibition or handmade market and music festival, visit handcraftitfestival.com.