Crafting Images: Exploring fibre-craft’s visual turn

Authors: Shannon Black*, University of Toronto
Topics: Cultural Geography, Qualitative Methods, Women
Keywords: craft, knitting, photography, visual culture, arts-based research, visual methods
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/3/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Senate Room, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

In the Global North, fibre-crafters are increasingly turning to visual and digital mediums to showcase their work, exchange ideas, cultivate communities, and generate income. While there are studies that address contemporary craft in online contexts, there is a paucity of research that examines the processes of making fibre-craft visible, and how the increased visuality of craft influences and impacts those working in craft industries. In this multi-media project, I begin to address this gap. Taking up the call for more creative and critical engagement with geographical research, I combine the testimonies of forty-two professionals working in the North American hand knitting industry (i.e., knitting designers, yarn dyers, yarn store owners, yarn manufacturers), with practices of image making and fibre-based craft, to produce a series of images and objects that reflexively engage the complex ways in which the ‘visual’ is bound up in the creative and labour practices, the work and living spaces, subjectivities, communities and politics of this diverse group of actors. The images and objects that are produced provide a conceptual, affective, and imaginative ‘space’ in which to grapple with the impacts of craft’s visual unfolding, and the nebulous political terrain that surrounds the making, consuming and studying of (craft) imagery. Allowing the images and objects to ‘speak for themselves’, they also serve as a medium through which to spark critical and reflexive dialogue with participants and audiences about the visual culture of craft, and the place and politics of arts-based academic research.

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