“It’s activism for introverts,” explained Associate Professor and Chair of Visual and Performing Arts Carole Loeffler, who teaches the University’s “craft+activism = Craftivism” course this semester.
Craftivism is the act of using traditional, “domestic” arts—such as knitting, sewing, and embroidery—as a means of activism, protest, and social empowerment. Students in the class, sponsored and supported by the Honors program, tackle a range of mediums and projects, including letters and postcards sent in response to the 2019 El Paso, Texas, shooting; a square that was stitched into a quilt by seniors at the Social Justice Sewing Academy; and even craftivist “Shrinky Dinks.”
“Craftivism allows people to take a stand without having to protest in the streets,” said Loeffler, who emphasizes the connection between community and creation. “My goal is to have students continue this form of activism in their daily lives.”
The class has also heard from guest speakers and local artists, including author and activist Betsy Greer, who coined the term “craftivism” in 2003. Leaders in the global craftivist movement shared their enthusiasm via Skype, lauding the department for designing such a course.
“It’s great seeing people be creative who haven’t been creative since kindergarten,” said Madison Klein ’21. Only three of the 15 enrolled students, all of whom are members of the Honors program, are Art and Design majors. But Loeffler hopes that “Craftivism” will expand into a regularly scheduled course available to all Arcadia students.
“With things the way they are, I think having classes like this shows Arcadia as a leader,” said Loeffler.