There is an important conversation unfolding right now in the art world about consumerism, politics, and myriad social issues – and it’s being addressed with crafts. The New Craft Artists in Action (NCAA) call their crocheted public artworks a form of “craftivism,” a term that Chloe Veltman touched upon in her New York Times article, “A Movement in Museums and on the Street.” Veltman says, “Like the inner-city farm and indie publishing movements currently sweeping the region, the crafts-as-activism, or ‘craftivism,’ scene is a response to consumer culture,” of the new ways artists are addressing social issues in the Bay Area.
Craftivism certainly isn’t an exclusively west coast movement, however; the Boston-based NCAA, NYC-based Polish street artist Olek, and English textile artist Lucy Sparrow can all attest to that. Lucy Sparrow in particular is known for her distinctive, playful art; her work illustrates the ways in which craftivism is a much more pervasive contemporary medium than one can comprehend at first glance.
The London-based artist, who has a particular fondness for felt, takes the overarching craftivism label one step further, challenging the genre by partaking in what she calls “feltism.” Sparrow explains, “The aim of this ‘feltism’ is to question, playfully, both the politics or artistic production and to tackle some of the sharp realities of contemporary social life, dealing with issues around politics of consumerism, social exclusion, gender, and neurological diversity.”
By recreating objects such as depression medication, it allows those viewing her art to experience and evaluate those items in an entirely new way. Soon, Sparrow will embark on her largest project yet, in which she will fill an entire abandoned London convenience store with her crafted felt products. “The Cornershop” is Sparrow’s highly anticipated month-long installation, and it will change the way you look at consumerism.
The artist explains, “Each item – from the bean cans, to the cigarette packets, the chewing gum and the porn mags – will be made entirely out of felt: each item meticulously hand sewn, stuffed and priced by yours-truly,” of what visitors can expect when visiting “The Cornershop.” In addition to the felt-stocked Cornershop installation, Sparrow will offer special workshops and classes that will, as she says, “mobilize power of crafting practices to engage individuals and connect communities.”
Images: via Kickstarter.com, courtesy of the artist