Thursday, October 31, 2019

Craft Capital: Philadelphia's Cultures of Making

Craft Capital: Philadelphia's Cultures of Making is a book of essays and photographs from community art projects and installations collected and annotated by CraftNOW Philadelphia. Released 28th Oct 2019 by Schiffer, it's 208 pages and available in hardcover format.

There are so many places where arts and enrichment funding has been gutted from local, state, and federal budgets. There are a number of crafts collectives and privately funded arts initiatives. CraftNOW Philadelphia is one such collective, organizing exhibits, connecting patrons, and serving as an arts facilitator/incubator of sorts.

This book is a current and retrospective look at the genesis of the crafts scene in Philadelphia with some varied insights into how post-WWII Philly became a crafts mecca and how it maintained its creativity.  The book includes 10 essays by various artists, curators, and educators (short bios in the back of the book), alternated with photo essays providing behind the scenes looks at installations and local parades. 

The essays are a varied bunch from drily academic to humorously quirky. The photo essays are all colorful and illustrative. It was interesting to see inside several of the studios and get a glimpse of the working processes behind the associated artists creating in the spaces. There's a fair amount of info and advice to be gleaned from some of the ideas presented.There's also a useful links and resources list primarily aimed at Philadelphia locales. Most of the listed organizations have an online presence, so they can be accessed through the 'net or via CraftNOW Philadelphia's website.

I've never encountered a book quite like this one. I think it would be a phenomenal introduction to the arts scene for locals, as well as a good blueprint for other arts organizations looking for ideas to get started or maintain a group space. It will possibly have limited use for artists and crafters who are not used to public arts or who are more solo.

Five stars for Philly folks and administrators/educators/curators/academics, probably four stars for the rest of us.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

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