Craft(ing) Culture(s)


Saturday, October 3 from 1 - 5pm
Saturday, October 10 from 1 - 5pm
Saturday, October 24 from 1 - 5pm
Friday, November 6 from 3 - 5pm, 6pm

Necklace by CEW Design Studio Artists

Join artisans from Chicago’s refugee and immigrant communities as learners and teachers to explore craft's role in women’s resilience, from joyful celebration, marriage, and birth to war, poverty, and turmoil. 

Saturday, October 3 from 1 - 5 pm

Craft(ing) Culture(s) ::  Catharsis, Renewal & Reimagination (South Asian + Bosnian)
Hamdard Center, 1542 W Devon Ave

Participants will: (1) learn knitting skills (2) examine the symbolic language of traditional patterns and (3) discuss the ways in which culture and gender dynamics are reconfigured in Chicago’s immigrant communities.  $15 suggested donation (sliding scale). Please note spots are limited for this workshop. Please RSVP.

Saturday, October 10 from 1 - 5 pm

Craft(ing) Culture(s) ::  Catharsis, Renewal & Reimagination (Korean + Cambodian)
National Cambodian Heritage Museum & Killing Fields Memorial, 2831 W Lawrence Ave

Participants will: (1) learn quilting skills (2) examine the symbolic language of traditional patterns and (3) discuss the ways in which culture and gender dynamics are reconfigured in Chicago’s immigrant communities.  $15 suggested donation (sliding scale). Please note spots are limited for this workshop. Please RSVP.

Saturday, October 24 from 1 - 5 pm

Craft(ing) Culture(s) ::  Catharsis, Renewal & Reimagination (Arab + African)
Ethiopian Community Association of Chicago, 1730 W Greenleaf Ave

Participants will: (1) learn embroidery skills (2) examine the symbolic language of traditional patterns and motifs and (3) discuss how culture and gender dynamics are reconfigured in Chicago’s immigrant communities.   $15 suggested donation (sliding scale). Please note spots are limited for this workshop. Please RSVP.

Friday, November 6 from 3 - 5 pm

Craft(ing) Cultures :: Social Enterprise, Entrepreneurship, & Artisanship Panel
Hamdard Center, 1542 W Devon Ave

There is a burgeoning interest in social innovation, social enterprise, and conscious capitalism.  In an era of increasing income inequality, individuals, families, communities, and organizations are all seeking creative new pathways to stability and self-sufficiency.   Join us for a panel discussion exploring Chicago-area successes, challenges, and opportunities for social enterprises and small businesses based on community artisanship. The discussion will be followed by a Q & A session and small breakout groups.

 Friday, November 6 starting at 6pm

Craft(ing) Cultures :: Closing Exhibition/Celebration/Bazaar
Hamdard Center, 1542 W Devon Ave

Enjoy live music, tastings, an art and craft market featuring immigrant and refugee women artisans and entrepreneurs, art-making stations, and an interactive GIS map about migration.

CEW Design Studio at Hamdard Center
1542 W Devon Ave
60660 Chicago, IL
Phone: (773) 465-4600
While you're there


exhibition at the Chicago Industrial Arts & Design Center
open studio at the Chicago Industrial Arts & Design Center
exhibition at Roman Susan
open studio at Kim's Corner Food
performance at Mayne Stage
learning/performance at the Leather Archives and Museum
exhibition at Hamdard Center
performance at Rogers Park High School

How is the City your studio?

Chicago's neighborhoods and communities are churning with the ideas and actions of visionaries and changemakers. Our City is abundant with creativity and experimentation stemming from every level of society, every community, and every background. We mostly hear about large-scale shifts engendered by institutional stakeholders such as officials, urban planners, or developers. Yet, the City transforms daily through everyday thinkers, creators, and makers. These layers of configuration occur in multiple simultaneous (and contradictory) ways. Immigrant communities play an integral role in this re-construction of the City. The process of migration itself is a process of constant change, re-calibration, and creative contradiction. Melding old and new, prosaic and unprecedented, pragmatic and quixotic, these communities are essential, generative contributors and leaders for a greater collective imagining of Chicago as a place of home, commerce, love, and play. Experiential ebbs and flows manifest not just in language, food, or geography, but also in the preservation, modification, and re-imagining of traditional art and craft forms. There is a vibrant community of informal artisans and artists in Chicago. Their art is shaped by, complicates, and questions the City in a dislocated, interconnected, and globalized world. Too often, though, these communities are not connected to the formal corridors of art-production, appreciation, or consumption. Whom are we including in our categories of Artists? Makers? Creators? This mirrors a broader erasure. Nearly invisible in the mass media, immigrant women play a seminal role in the life of the City: from mopping floors, to painting nails, to treating patients, to scientific discovery, to elder care, to nannying. Every immigrant community has a cadre of artists whose specialty is the (re)creation of ethnic artifacts and adornments. Fiber arts, with its longstanding association with femininity, domesticity, and utilitarian application, is a unique medium for exploring immigrant womens' artistic contributions to the City and the contested terrain of gender in a transforming world. This program highlights the role of art and craft in the lives of immigrant and refugee women. Embroidery, knitting, crocheting and weaving have a long history as artful expressions, particularly among working class women around the world. They are also uniquely gendered forms of art. For the women participating in this project, their crafting forms are a means of conveying life experience, wisdom, hardship, joy, and the vast panoply of human experience. Crafting practices are also used to both capture and heal from the broader forces shaping women's lives, such as war, geopolitical turmoil, poverty, and loss. Women artisans are influenced by, create, and transcend traditional canonical strictues of form, color, and pattern. A symbol, style, or pattern with historical resonance may be completely reconfigured in a new context. Conversely, an unprecedented approach may create new avenues for re-iteration and re-invention. While many such textile-art items, such as Hmong Story Cloths and Afghan War Rugs are now "priceless" items of sold art, there are numerous other renderings of women's experiences. Deliberately dismantling barriers between the "art world" and immigrant communities, an unusual combination of artists and organizations are collaborating on this project, including: 1. CEW Design Studio in Rogers Park, a community art studio and art therapy social enterprise for South Asian and Bosnian refugee women 2. Domestic violence organizations serving immigrant women (Apna Ghar, KAN-WIN) 3. Immigrant mental health programs (Hamdard Center and Arab American Family Services) 4. Neighborhood based community cultural centers (the Cambodian Association of Illinois, the Ethiopian Community Association of Chicago, and Korean Resource and Cultural Center) 5. Community artists/artisans In this series of workshops for Chicago Artist’s Month, partnering with women community leaders, we will explore the role of craft in individual cultures, while providing a cross-cultural opportunity for artists to share their skills with community members from throughout Chicago. This will be an opportunity to re-locate art production and consumption out into community spaces, build cultural bridges, and explore points of tension. The workshop is entitled Craft(ing) Culture(s) :: Catharsis, Renewal, and Re-Imagination because fiber arts is a medium for describing, depicting, dismantling, and re-creating women's experiences. There are multiple layers to this: (1) the process of envisioning, creation, reflection, and revision mirrors the process of healing from migration and dislocation; (2) The creation of new things using old techniques is itself a corollary of the migration process. These art objects are reflections of a much deeper syncretism, of language, culture, customs, and gender dynamics; (3) Often, art representing diverse communities is deeply disconnected from mainstream arts institutions. When it is present, it is rarely created by artists from diverse communities. This workshop is an opportunity to shift the discursive lens from Object to Subject and to re-examine and deconstruct notions of “art”, “artist”, “artisan”, and community. By building a deliberate Teacher//Learner dynamic between formal artists, community artists, and community participants, we will disrupt the invisibility of immigrant womens' experiences and voices. Finally, by bringing community participants from across the City into cultural community spaces, we will create an rare opportunity for dialogue, engagement, and mutual cultural exploration.