New Wave Craft Movement – something to talk about?

Posted on November 7, 2007

According to a post on the ACC Policy Discussion Forum  the American Craft Council has added a new section in their show for New Wave Crafters. One "old wave" master, James Aarons, questioned this and wanted an explaination of "New Wave."

I found the reply interesting and in line with some research I did two years ago when putting together a talk on "Trends in Craft" and I thought about all the 20-somethings who make "stuff" and sell it. Yet don’t relate to the traditional "craft" world. I found a host of cool websites that were fresh, young and "crafty" in a a new way. Guess the movement is growing.

Mary Fichter  of the ACC replied: The Council has identified several exceptional self-proclaimed "new wave" crafters via a number of local craft shows such as Renegade Craft Fairs, Maker’s Faire, Craftstravanga, etc. We also received several nominations from organizations such as Church of Craft. These artists are producing high-quality work but have not yet applied to large national shows like Baltimore. With this opportunity, the Council will introduce this new audience of makers to the national stage of craft including all of the fine makers who already exhibit at the show. We hope to expose them to more advanced work and thus perhaps inspire them to take the next step in their careers. Since this is a new endeavor for the Council, the decision was made to test the water first by accepting applications via nominations.

Wendy Rosen of the Rosen Group – producer of the Buyer’s Market of American Craft offered her definition and thoughts: The New Wave Craft movement, I assume is a reference to the Third Wave Craft movement. Demographic: Twentysomething art school grads, radical feminists who use nostalgic images, found objects, to express a cynical distaste for boomer society. Founded as an online social group, this community has grown to more than 100 radical craft fairs mostly in urban environments and has more than 300,000 members online posting their "works". This group does follow "some" of the guidelines of Arts&Craft genre, such as reverence for nature, but there is little technical skill shown in the works… it’s more about the community identity and feminist ideals… than technical execution. We have accepted about a dozen artists into our shows that are affiliated with this group…
it’s an experiment for us… and they of course must show technical skill and
provide a well-crafted product to be part of our universe.

For a great history of the American Craft Council (ACC) and the shows they’ve nurtured and produced read this personal recount by David Bacharach.

To read some contemporary thoughts on the new craft movement read this blog RedefiningCraft.com and visit  Renegade Craft.

There are many more sites to hop to from these — there’s a new movement and it’s yours!

[TIP: Think about this development vis a vis your own business — does it apply to you? Is it a trend you can exploit? Is it something your customers are sensing and can you be a beacon of light for them to shine to their customers? Remember, it’s still a sales category regardless of the artspeak.]

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