‘counter craft’ is an ongoing research project by that critically explores how art, craft, history and activism intertwine. As a website, ‘counter craft’ will serve to collect and comment on the various aspects of modern craft, specifically craftivism. Although its roots can be traced further back in history, craftivism is a term coined in 2003 by Betsy Greer which she defines as “the practice of engaged creativity, especially regarding political or social causes.” Throughout history artists have subverted materials, tools and technologies to express their ideas. ‘counter craft’ will examine the ways that makers, such as artists and craftivists, use traditional craft materials as well as mass-produced products in ways not intended by the original designers. I believe that by subverting and repurposing materials through the use of craft we can open public discourse, create change and gain a foothold in breaking away from the corporate design we inhabit.
As Glenn Adamson points out in his article ‘Craftier Than Thou’:
“Craft… is not a simple matter. It is not a surefire antidote for “corporate doublespeak.” Companies use (and abuse) it all the time. Don’t let anyone — an advertising executive, an activist knitter, or a motorcycle mechanic — tell you otherwise.” (Adamson, 2011, 103)
I agree with Adamson that craft is a complex subject and practicing craft does not provide a complete resolution to the corporate takeover of our society. From the moment our predecessors were using tools, we were crafting. Industrialization and mass production drastically changed our relationship with craft in a relatively short period of time. When the Industrial Revolution took over, it didn’t take long for groups to form in opposition. Luddites revolted in in the early 1800s and the Arts and Crafts Movement flourished between 1860 and 1910. I believe that we are all inherent makers who search for our own ways to fulfill this need. The Industrial Revolution has left us struggling to define our relationship with craft and making. Through this project I hope to explore the tension between mass-production, our needs as makers and how craftivism can be a force to address discontent with a postindustrial world.