Craft in America



Watch a 3 minute preview of Craft in America: STORYTELLERS and DEMOCRACY. PBS premiere December 11, 2020. DEMOCRACY explores how craft is intertwined with our nation's defining principles. STORYTELLERS highlights artists that use narrative to communicate personal and universal truths.

AIRED: December 11, 2020 | 0:03:04

(upbeat music)

- What democracy means is a coming together of all

of the people to make decisions

collectively about the future.

Craft and art are core to the democracy

that we have here in the United States.

- [Woman] The Smithsonian Institution

is the largest museum complex in the world,

and it's a place where people come to learn

about what it means to be an American.

- I think that as a nation, we're still grappling

with a legacy of race that started with

the enslavement of black people in this country.

This museum is one of the places where we help people

grapple with that.

- We chose 21 women to help us understand

what this exhibit was gonna be about.

Native women are quite used to doing this,

working together in our communities,

this is how we've survived.

- To be able to have veterans in the height

of their craftsmanship come into the Library of Congress

to tell their story is just super exciting.

- Clay is a good material to talk about war.

I don't think anything I do is gonna change the world,

but nothing releases me from our obligation to try.

- [Woman] Calligraphy has given me a treasured opportunity

to be part of our democracy.

- I am a storyteller.

My favorite pieces come from dreams that I've had,

and when I get an idea in a dream,

it's like the best present.

When the fire started, I can still remember the sound

of my sculptures exploding.

The whole studio was gone.

The Craft Emergency Relief Fund

called me up, and they said we want to send you a check,

and I said, but I haven't applied.

They said, we don't care.

Who does that?

It was like family.

It just makes me feel so happy to be part

of this community of artists.

- The Art to Wear movement reflects the spirit

of a generation that came of age in the 1960's

but found its voice in the '70s.

It was not a fashion statement.

It was a new form of self expression.

These artists used the body

as a canvas, and used the idea of the thread as a language.

- Most of my work starts with being influenced by writing,

and wearing words is very personal, it's like saying

this message means something to me.

- [Woman] There was a period of experimentation,

no restrictions on what you could make.

- [Woman] These pieces animate personal stories

on the human body,

and thereby merging art and life.


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