Call & Response: Craft as a Tool for Activism

July 31, 2021

50 artists throughout the country speak out through the intersection of craft and activism 

The Museum of Craft and Design (MCD) is pleased to announce Call & Response: Craft as a Tool for Activism, a nationwide virtual exhibition and artist marketplace, highlighting 50 artists who are working at the crucial intersection of craft and activism by uplifting their political ideals and their communities through their medium of choice.

This past May, MCD launched an open call to artists and craftspeople resulting in 421 submissions employing a diverse range of mediums, practices, and concepts.

With material practices ranging from neon signs to ceramics, concrete, cut paper, embroidery, textiles, clothing and fashion, jewelry, woodworking, social practice, and makeup artistry; the entries also spoke to diverse issues: ecology, racism, social injustice, police brutality, prison reform, feminism, trans rights, gun control, voting rights, immigration, gentrification and much more, painting a portrait of the issues that face Americans today.

A quilted collage of squares in red, blue, and pink.
Ann Morton, Violet Protest, 2021, mixed-media and textiles. Photo by Bill Timmerman, Timmerman Photography

Of these entries, our panel of three jurors (curator and writer Glenn Adamson; ceramist and teacher Ebitenefya Baralaye; and adjunct professor, artist, and E.D. of Public Glass Nate Watson) selected 50 artists to include in the virtual exhibition. Their selections include established and emerging artists from across the country. Juror Glenn Adamson notes: “I was looking not only for work that was vibrant and resonant, but also achieved real contact with the public realm. To be effective, any protest (handmade or not) needs to get out into the streets, into the sphere of everyday discourse. Where it matters.”

Among the 50 selected artists, three prize winners were chosen: First Place was awarded to Ann Morton’s Violet Protest, 2021; Second Place to Sobia Ahmad’s wherever you are is called Here, 2019; and Third Place to Hannah Alex Younger’s Relational Values, 2017.


Hannah Alex Younger, Relational Values, 2017, Thiox monoprints on hand-dyed, hand-woven Tencel. Image courtesy of the artist

Through the virtual exhibition, viewers can dive deeper and learn more about all 50 participating artists. Ahn Lee’s cocoon was created in response to the violence Lee experienced as a Chinese person in relation to COVID. Nasim Moghadam’s The Birth Certificate, a monumental sculptural installation enlarging eight pages of her birth certificate booklet, represents female hyphenated identity in the Middle East and explores the identity of women concerning culture and society.

This exhibition invites the viewer to slow down and take time to peruse the artist pages and to learn more about artists such as Kenya Alkebu a “lifer” inmate in the Louisiana Department of Corrections and his quilt Red, White & Baldwin, a celebration and recognition of his love of the writer, James Baldwin. Efrat Hakimi’s Sims Series features paper embossed with the outlines of surgical tools used by James Marion Sims who conducted non-consented experiments and surgeries on enslaved black women in the 1840’s in Alabama.

Call & Response: Craft as a Tool for Activism is now live and on view at sfmcd.org.
Support the artists by shopping the Artist Marketplace through September 30, 2021, at shop.sfmcd.org.

Participating Artists:
Sobia Ahmad, Elizabeth Alexander, Kenya Alkebu, Cassie Arnold, Josh Azzarella, Leslie Boyd, Kimberly Camp, Gaye Chan, Gregory Climer, Isaac Couch, The’Shima Craver, Tara Daly, Kimberly English, Jen Graham, Lily Guillen, Efrat Hakimi, Holly Hanessian and Michael Austin Diaz, Alison Kysia, Connie DK Lane, Ahn Lee, Susan Lenz, Beili Liu, Cathy Lu, Katrina Majkut, Kimberly McKinnis, Elizabeth Miller, Nasim Moghadam, Shavon Morris, Ann Morton, Richard-Jonathan Nelson, Ramekon O’Arwisters, Jacob Olmedo, Kasia Ozga, Bridget Parlato, Beverly Patterson, SV Randall, Shani Richards, Dora Lisa Rosenbaum, Justin Rothshank and Isaac Scott, Julia Kim Smith, Erin Stafford, Tim Tate, Amelia Toelke, Abegael Uffelman, Winnie van der Rijn, Flora Wilds, Anne Wolf, Evelyn Wong, Yu-Wen Wu, and Hannah Alex Younger.

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View Call & Response: Craft as a Tool for Activism
Press Images and the checklist for the virtual exhibition can be found here.

For more information contact:
Sarah Beth Rosales, Marketing and Communications Director at sbrosales@sfmcd.org or at 415.773.0303

Top Image: Sobia Ahmad, wherever you are is called Here (detail), 2019, screen-print of maps of various locations in Pakistan. Image courtesy of the artist

About the Museum of Craft and Design
The Museum of Craft and Design (MCD) is San Francisco’s only museum devoted to craft and design. Founded in 2004, MCD showcases designers, makers, and artists through an exciting and distinctive series of craft and design-focused exhibitions and public programs. As a non-collecting institution, the museum actively collaborates with artists, designers, museums, and universities, as well as design venues and practitioners to create inspirational experiences in the world of craft and design for visitors of all ages. Learn more at sfmcd.org

Visitor Information
The Museum of Craft and Design is located at 2569 Third Street (between 22nd and 23rd), in the historic American Industrial Center in San Francisco’s vibrant Dogpatch neighborhood. MCD is a North American Reciprocal Museum (NARM) member, a Blue Star Museum, and participates in Museums for All and ROAM. MCD offers free admission to our nation’s active-duty military personnel, essential workers, first responders, and their families.

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