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Whose Standards? Racial Equity in Craft and Design Part 1 of 2

Thu, October 8, 2020  - 7:00 PM – 8:30 PM EDT

Are our foundations our own biggest roadblocks on the path to achieving racial equity in craft and design? Institutions in the field of craft and design engender cultures of elitism through gate keeping and hierarchies of knowledge and aesthetics, which have resulted in suffocatingly white-dominated canons and histories. There is a growing awareness that representation must be racially diverse – from artists whose works enter collections or hang on walls, to staff and faculty hired as decision-makers and thought leaders. Yet, when racial equity is discussed in these overlapping fields, tokenism abounds, and community and education are devalued in favor of established (and exclusionary) academic and curatorial benchmarks. The structures that underpin them -- themselves built on entrenched modes of white supremacy -- are rarely, if ever, interrogated.

As white society wakes up to racial injustice, leaders in craft and design struggle with their own racial reckoning. We must pause and ask ourselves: Whose standards are we working within and towards? How must they be disrupted and dismantled to truly move forward racial equity? How can we be honest about the historic exclusion of people of color, and specifically black people, from all aspects of the field? What do we need to embrace, give up, and change, in order to gain true anti-racist transformation within craft and design?

Join the conversation!


Alison Croney Moses, artist, craftsperson, and Program Director at the Eliot School of Fine & Applied Arts

Matthew Shenoda, writer, Associate Provost for Social Equity & Inclusion (SEI), Professor of Literary Arts & Studies at Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), and SEI Advisor to the President at RISD

Namita Gupta Wiggers, artist, curator, writer, Founding Director of the MA in Critical Craft Studies at Warren Wilson College and Director/co-founder, Critical Craft Forum

Moderator Michelle Millar Fisher, the Ronald C. and Anita L. Wornick Curator of Contemporary Decorative Arts at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston will facilitate an authentic conversation with speakers as they respond to the questions at hand.

Respondent Paul Sacaridiz, artist and Executive Director of Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, will set the scene for an open audience Q&A about how racial equity has traditionally been (mis)understood in institutions of craft and design, and what a more effective and truly equitable future roadmap looks like.

The "Whose Standards? Racial Equity in Craft and Design" series is an Eliot School Salon. It is hosted by the Eliot School of Fine & Applied Arts, generously supported by Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, and presented in collaboration with Boston Design Week.



Whose Standards? Racial Equity in Craft and Design Part 2 of 2

Wed, October 14, 2020  - 7:00 PM – 8:30 PM EDT

Many arts and culture institutions have begun to invest in creating “pipelines” for people of underrepresented identities to access employment and exposure in the fields of craft and design. In the past six months, as the COVID-19 crisis has combined with a newly galvanized urgency to address racial equity, gaps and tensions have been exposed in these “pipeline” structures, showing places where pathways in the field simply fail to exist.

Leaders of historically white-led institutions are currently turning for advice to people of color, seeking “diversity of representation.” These same people of color have surmounted institutionalized racism to make their way as artists, administrators, and teachers in art ecosystems. Elevating their voices for a moment is not the same as dismantling racist structures to create racially equitable spaces, empower new generations into ownership of public institutions, or build lasting platforms to sustain equitable education, community engagement and expression.

As we rebuild post-pandemic, what new systems need to be put in place to support the contemporary craft field as a truly equitable space? What effective models can we amplify and envision to build access and success for those who have been historically excluded from institutions of craft and design?

This panel brings together four practitioners actively grounded in racial justice who work daily to enact institutional structural change and empower black and brown young people to flourish over long careers as artists, makers, designers, teachers, and arts administrators.

Join the Conversation!


Anthony Romero -- artist, writer, and organizer committed to documenting and supporting artists and communities of color, as well as Professor in the Practice at SMFA Tufts University and co-author of Boston Arts for Black Lives Letter

Jabari Peddie – Director of Leadership Development at Build Excel Sustain (BES) and Co-founder of The Teachers’ Lounge

Polly Carpenter – Director of Public Programs, Boston Society for Architecture and Fellow of The American Institute of Architects.

Alison Croney Moses -- artist, craftsperson, and Director of School & Community Partnership Programs at the Eliot School of Fine & Applied Arts, will moderate a lively conversation that will include quick-fire respondents:

Steph Foster, Interdisciplinary Artist & Assistant Professor in the Dept. of Photography at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, PA

Isaac Madeira-Cepeda, teen artist at Eliot School of Fine & Applied Arts’ Teen Bridge Program, and a senior at Boston Collegiate Charter School.

The "Whose Standards? Racial Equity in Craft and Design" series is an Eliot School Salon. It is hosted by the Eliot School of Fine & Applied Arts, generously supported by Haystack Mountain School of Crafts and presented in collaboration with Boston Design Week.