Craftivism is our new favorite word.
There’s something strangely calming about spending a Saturday afternoon cross stitching with other girls, especially when you’re discussing how to crush the patriarchy at the same time.
This is the thought I had last Saturday at Grrrl Gang Manila’s Grrrl Meet #5. Grrrl Meets are designed to be spaces where women can feel like their voices matter, and learn that activism can be done in different ways.
Held at the Vargas Museum in UP Diliman, this particular meet was dedicated the influence of crafting, as inspired by Amy Carlton, Cinnamon Cooper, and Kate Bingaman-Burt’s Craftifesto poster which laid out the principles of craft activism — relevant given how the Manila craft community is thriving.
Participants got to sit on banig mats and blankets while stitching their activist slogans (we spotted: a vagina, a few feminist fists, and “Hustisya”). We also got to listen to by curator and professor Lisa Ito and artist Lesley-Anne Cao.
While one afternoon wasn’t enough for me to fully grasp what craftivism is, it still got me curious to research for more. Here are a few things I learned from Lisa and Lesley’s talks.
Craftivism is a new way to reinforce the revolutionary potential of being creative.
What is craftivism? Using craft, or the art of making things by hand, to convey a powerful message, or to take a stand. The term is linked to movements that include feminism, anti-capitalism, and environmentalism.
Craft is in many ways a response to different movements.
Crafting and the maker movement, like other art movements, were meant to be a response by artists and designers to go back to handmade items in the time of industrialization.
Craft is both personal and political.
Craft has the potential to link us to issues political in scope. Lisa mentioned that though the whole idea of crafts is very personal, it’s an idea which is very much tied up with the history and development of capitalism as a whole system. She adds that personal problems are political problems, saying, “In trying to find solutions to seemingly personal problems in a collective manner, people will hopefully get to respond/address [political problems].”
Context, form and process are crucial.
Activism often has many layers, so we have to consider the many levels of power relations operating in cases like these, especially in the local context where we have indigenous handicrafts. Lesley emphasized that the form and process used in your crafts are very important in conveying the message and the authenticity behind your message. Lisa also noted that our access is dependent on material conditions of our time.
Craftivism should go hand-in-hand with action.
In the same way that art alone cannot change the world, it’s important that craftivism doesn’t stop at home. Lisa reminded us that craftivism must be linked with action — to trying to change things, and getting together to change things.
Stay tuned to Grrrl Gang Manila’s Facebook page for information on their upcoming events.