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With Anthea Black and Nicole Burisch and moderated by Lynne Heller

Craft has frequently been positioned as both a fix and foil for the ills of capitalism and alienating conditions of industrialization. The last decade is no exception, as a recent resurgence of hand-making in the fields of popular culture, design, and art, and the related practices of Craftivism, DIY, urban homesteading, and back-to-the-land, have been dubbed by some as a “craft revolution.” However, this fascination with all things handmade places emphasis on a romanticized notion of crafting (and often textiles in particular) as simple, fulfilling, and politically significant work. These assumptions about the status of craft operate in what is often a false opposition to mass production, consumer culture, and an increasingly technologized world.

In the almost-decade since the word “craftivism” has been used to describe the blending of craft and activism, a number of forces have complicated this relatively emergent dialogue and set of practices. This discussion will investigate how the particular qualities of craft have been conflated with notions of authenticity, individuality, and radical politics, and what this might mean in regards to changing notions of activism. If “greenwashing” refers to the use of branding to make a product seem eco-friendly while concealing its negative impacts, we introduce the term “craftwashing” to refer instances where craft is used to market and perform political and social engagement while obscuring similarly sticky ethical, environmental, and economic impacts of global production and consumption.


Anthea Black



Anthea Black is a Canadian artist, writer, and cultural worker based in Toronto. Her work in print, textiles, performance and video set a stage for collaborative encounters and insert intimate gestures into public space. Black has exhibited in Canada, the US, France, Germany, and The Netherlands, including her current exhibition at Forest City Gallery in London, LIVE FROM PATTERN HUT. Her texts on contemporary art, craft, and performance appear in numerous publications including FUSE Magazine, Bordercrossings, No More Potlucks, and she is currently writing on craft and polymorphous perversity for Carleton University Art Gallery's catalogue Making Otherwise. Her collaborative writing with Nicole Burisch is included in The Craft Reader (Bloomsbury) and Extra/ordinary: Craft and Contemporary Art (Duke University Press), and together they are the co-editors of a forthcoming book on craft and the global art economy.

Image: Anthea Black, ARE YOU READY TO SERIOUSLY EFF WITH PUBLIC DECENCY?!?, installed at Gestures of Resistance, Museum of Contemporary Craft. 2010.




Nicole Burisch



Nicole Burisch is a Canadian curator, artist, critic, and cultural worker. She holds a BFA in Ceramics from the Alberta College of Art and Design and an MA in Art History from Concordia University. Through various independent and collaborative projects, much of her work has focused on contemporary craft and craft theory, and she has researched, published, exhibited, and lectured on this topic in Canada and internationally. Her research (with Anthea Black) into curatorial strategies for politically engaged craft practices is included in milestone publications The Craft Reader (Berg) and Extra/ordinary: Craft and Contemporary Art (Duke University Press). Burisch’s writing on contemporary art, craft, performance, and working conditions in the arts has also been published by No More Potlucks, FUSE Magazine, Stride Gallery, the Richmond Art Gallery, and in the Cahiers métiers d’art :: Craft Journal.

Burisch worked as Administrative Coordinator at Centre Skol from 2011-2014, as the Director of Calgary’s Mountain Standard Time Performative Art Festival from 2007-2009, and is currently Managing Editor for MAWA’s 30th anniversary publication about feminist art in Canada. She occasionally does collaborative performance work as one-third of the Ladies Invitational Deadbeat Society and one-fourth of The Brick Factory. In 2014-15 she will be Critic-In-Residence as part of the Core Program at The Museum of Fine Arts Houston.




Lynne Heller
Lynne Heller



Lynne Heller is a post-disciplinary artist / educator. Her interests encompass material culture, new media performative interaction, graphic novels and sculptural installation. Heller completed her MFA at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2004 and is currently undertaking a doctoral program at University College Dublin, Ireland.  She is a cross-appointed Lecturer at OCAD University in the Faculties of Design, Liberal Arts & Sciences and School of Interdisciplinary Studies, as well as being an adjunct researcher in the Data Materialization Lab. Heller has exhibited nationally and internationally and is the recipient of grants from the Ontario Arts Council, the Canada Council for the Arts and the Department of Foreign Affairs, Canada.  Recent exhibitions include Slippage at the Robert Langen Art Gallery, University at Waterloo, Waterloo, ON, Chelsea Girls, Gallery 44, Toronto, ON, Homeostasis Lab, The Wrong – New Digital Art Biennale, made and exhibited worldwide, Another Season: An International Exchange Project, Gallery 44, Toronto, ON (the exhibition travelled to the Three Shadows Photography Art Centre, Beijing, the Detroit Centre for Contemporary Photography, and the Hippolyte Photographic Gallery, Helsinki) and Hysteria: Past, Present, Futurecurated by Anonda Bell, Paul Robeson Galleries, Rutgers University, Newark, New Jersey, USA.









Who We Are

Formerly the Ontario Crafts Council, Craft Ontario is a not-for-profit service organization that works to have craft recognized as a valuable part of life. We promote and celebrate professional craft through providing member opportunities, and advocate for craft practice by educating and empowering diverse audiences.