A section of my summer course on art therapy, social action, and trauma informed care included introducing art therapy & counseling graduate students at Ursuline College to the role of craftivism and its possibilities to empower vulnerable populations, as well as promote important social causes and issues through do it yourself crafty goodness:
As Betsy Greer defines:
craft + activism = craftivism
“By advocating the use of creativity for the improvement of the world, craftivists worldwide taught knitting lessons, sewed scarves for battered women’s shelters, and knitted hats for chemotherapy patients…. In promoting the idea that people can use their own creativity to improve the world, craftivism allows those who wish to voice their opinions and support their causes the chance to do just that…”
~Betsy Greer, “Craftivism.” Encyclopedia of Activism and Social Justice (2007).
Craftivism can take on many handmade forms, including radical needlepointing, crosstiching, knitting, fiber arts, and lots more. Here’s a great article: Yarn Bombing, Knit Graffiti and Underground Brigades: A Study of Craftivism and Mobility if you are interested in learning more about guerilla textiles in action. Another great piece is: Craftivism: Art with Attitude which provides a nice overview about the power in creativity to be heard and help create a better world.
As published here before, my craftivist love is sock monkey making…. (!) introduced to me a couple of years ago by my sock monkey hero and art therapist Kat Thorsen and the amazing work of Operation Sock Monkey (OSM).
Students in my class became operatives and craftivists for an upcoming OSM mission by learning how to make a sock monkey delegate as one of their assignments.
Originally, our delegation group was scheduled to travel to orphanges and children’s hospitals in Moscow and St. Petersburg Russia for an OSM & Clowns Sans Frontières mission. Word from OSM Headquarters is now there’s a greater need for more sock monkey smiles in Cape Town, South Africa as part of the Sinovuyo Caring Families Project with Clowns Without Borders South Africa.
From the OSM website: “Sinovuyo is focused on the highest-‐risk families with children ages 3 to 8 years: caregivers affected by HIV/AIDS or domestic violence. The programme aims to help parents and caregivers develop nurturing relationships with their children, prevent and reduce abusive parenting, while coping with stress from HIV/AIDS, poverty, and violence.”
Sock monkeys are used in storytelling and activities that promote parent/child communication and bonding. Learn more here.
This group of sock monkeys look forward to meeting & helping families served by the Sinovuyo Project. Job well done by all the students with their first Operative Mission! Mission accomplished! I hope it inspires lots more sock monkey making & craftivism in their future…. 🙂