Julia Bryan-Wilson

Associate Professor Fellow
Julia Bryan-Wilson photo

In her book project, “Craft Crisis: Handmade Art and Activism since 1970,” Julia Bryan-Wilson (History of Art) examines how artists and activists in the U.S., Chile, and England have used textile hand-making to propose alternative economic and political models of making. Looking at formations such as knitting circles, anti-sweatshop crochet groups, and feminist quilting projects from the past few decades, she investigates how recent “polemical handiwork” challenges traditional notions of craft as domestic, private, or aesthetically conservative. She also situates these forms of production in relation to global mass manufacturing. Examining evidence from the handmade tapestries at anti-nuclear demonstrations, to textiles depicting torture made during the Pinochet regime, to the NAMES Project Memorial AIDS Quilt, Bryan-Wilson asserts that forms of collective and hobby crafting often surge in public visibility in times of emergency and that “craft” itself as a stable, bounded category is perpetually in a state of crisis.