The Carpenters’ Company and The National Liberty Museum present a provocative virtual conversation between craftivist Shannon Downey and Dr. Hinda Mandell, associate professor at Rochester Institute of Technology. Shannon will discuss her work and exhibition, Craftivism: Activism Through Craft, currently on display at the National Liberty Museum. Craftivism is an amalgamation of Downey’s passions, ideals, values, truths, complexities, and confessions embroidered to explore and strengthen an understanding of self, and what it means to take positive action both for yourself and others. Dr. Mandell will contextualize Shannon’s work through her own research on the Rochester Ladies’ Anti-Slavery Sewing Society, which worked through craft to organize for the abolitionist cause and supported the work of Frederick Douglass. The conversation will be moderated by Omkari Williams, a podcaster, speaker, writer, and activist. A Zoom link will be sent out to all registrants prior to the event.
Shannon Downey (AKA Badass Cross Stitch) is an artist, activist, craftivist, community builder, and general instigator. She blends her politics, activism, and art into projects that are designed to inspire others to take action, think, discuss, engage with democracy and their community, and find some digital/analog balance. She uses art as a vehicle for positive change through creative interventions from open-source street art campaigns to global craftivism projects. Shannon is the instigator behind #RitasQuilt, #MakeDontBreak, and @BadassHERstory. She is on a quest to teach 1 million people to embroider and invite society to rethink how we categorize, and value craft and art. Shannon sold everything she owned and moved into an RV this past June to bring art, activism, and community to the country that she still believes in. She teaches at Columbia College and DePaul University and is the founder of Seriously Badass Women. Her life motto is: Make Art. Smash Systems.
Hinda Mandell, Ph.D., is associate professor in the School of Communication at RIT in New York, where she is the director of the university’s journalism program. Mandell is editor of Crafting Dissent: Handicraft as Protest from the American Revolution to the Pussyhats (Rowman & Littlefield, 2019); co-curator and co-editor of Crafting Democracy: Fiber Arts and Activism (RIT Press, 2019); a co-editor of Nasty Women and Bad Hombres: Gender and Race in the 2016 US Presidential Election (University of Rochester Press, 2018); the author of Sex Scandals, Gender and Power in Contemporary American Politics (Praeger, 2017); and co-editor of Scandal in a Digital Age (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016). As a journalist, her work has been published in Politico, The Boston Globe, The Chicago Tribune, The LA Times, and other publications. Her scholarly inquiries into collaborative handcraft as change-agents have been published in Craft Research, the Journal of Urban Cultural Studies, and forthcoming in the Journal of Feminist Scholarship. She is on the international advisory board of the Journal of Arts & Communities, and her research has been funded by the Center for Craft and Fiber Art Now. Since 2016, she has organized maker interventions on issues of social reform tied to geographic place, reaching more than 2,000 craft participants. Connect with her through Instagram at @crochetactivism, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Omkari Williams is a speaker, writer, podcast host, and coach for experienced and new activists — helping them develop and sustain their activism. Her passion is teaching people the power of story as a tool to change social policy. Omkari says, “Our stories are bridges between us and others, and can be immensely powerful in creating societal change. Yet the stories of so many have been neglected. When we learn how to leverage the power of our collective stories, we can create meaningful change and help bring justice to the world.” On her podcast, Stepping Into Truth: Conversations on Social Justice and How We All Get Free, she interviews those doing activist work in areas from abortion rights to zero plastic waste. Her writing has been featured online by Elephant Journal, My Empowered World, Women For One, and Tattooed Buddha and in print by Savannah Magazine and Paprika Southern. Connect with her at her website.