Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion
To our Craft Community,
In these difficult times, now more than ever Fuller Craft Museum stands committed to our values of equity, inclusivity, and diversity, and we join our community in solidarity against systemic racism. Diverse traditions and cultures are the foundation upon which craft is built, and Fuller Craft works to provide opportunities to artists and arts professionals of color. Through educational programming, exhibitions, and collections, we offer a platform to explore social issues and foreground artists working to bring these issues to light.
The arts, and Fuller Craft as a cultural institution that supports artistic expression, have a role in engendering empathy and understanding of one another, to provide a voice to the voiceless and express what words cannot. Art sustains us in times of turmoil. We find power in the actions of artists, and we find solace and respite in their work.
The language of objects often speaks louder than words. For example, artist Joyce Scott’s work Are These Monkeys? (seen below) probes political and social issues such as gender, race, and class struggle in timely and provocative ways. This work, along with others from our permanent collection and past exhibitions, will be posted on our social media in the days to come as we respond to the social turmoil unfolding in the United States.
Our work is far from over. Fuller Craft will continue to learn, grow, and commit to doing our part to build a more equitable society.
Fuller Craft Museum
The arts and artists have long been instrumental in framing cultural experiences by expressing what words cannot. In light of this week’s events across the United States, Fuller Craft Museum offers solace and solidarity through objects that aim to confront systemic racism in our communities.
Joyce Scott is one of the most celebrated contemporary artists of our time, with a career that has positioned craft as a platform for commentary on social and political inequities. Widely known as the “Queen of Beadwork,” Scott draws upon her African American, Native American, and Scottish heritage to create arresting sculptures and wearables with racially charged subject matter.
Scott’s Are These Monkeys? articulates these creative intentions. Part of Fuller Craft Museum’s Permanent Collection, this neckpiece compels us to question the derogatory term “monkeys,” historically used as a slur against black Americans. Exquisitely crafted in white beads, Scott upends past stereotypes and asks us to question our own deeply rooted bias. While the piece was created in 2010, it is a clear marker of the times in which we live and society’s ongoing, highly charged race relations.
Joyce Scott received a B.F.A. (1970) from the Maryland Institute College of Art, an M.F.A. (1971) from the Instituto Allende in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, and training from her mother, Elizabeth T. Scott, who was an internationally recognized fiber artist. Her work has appeared in solo and group exhibitions at the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Museum of Art and Design, Fuller Craft Museum, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, among others, and it is held in the public collections of numerous national and international museums. In 2016, she was awarded a prestigious MacArthur Fellowship, and in 2019, she received the Smithsonian Visionary Award. We are honored to have her work in the collection.
In 2019, Fuller Craft Museum presented “Stitch by Stitch: Activist Quilts from the Social Justice Sewing Academy” in our Community Gallery. Featured in the exhibition was Say Their Names, a textile inspired by #SayHerName, the social movement aimed at bringing attention to black women’s susceptibility to police brutality and state-sanctioned violence. In creating the quilt, Social Justice Sewing Academy founder Sara Trail expanded the concept to include both men and women of color who have been victimized.
“I wanted to create something that would outlast the fleeting moment of a hashtag and would instead remain for years to come,” Sara explained. “The motivation for this quilt was to help ensure that the stories of these victims are integrated into demands for justice, policy responses to police violence, and media representations of victims of police brutality. Like a page in a history book, this hand-appliquéd quilt of names will be here forever, standing in remembrance of the innocent black women, men, and children whose lives were lost unjustly.”
Say Their Names, 2017
Reverse-edge appliqué, hand-embroidered, and hand-quilted cotton and shot cotton
Courtesy of the Social Justice Sewing Academy
During this time of national turmoil, Fuller Craft Museum offers objects from past exhibitions and our permanent collection to catalyze reflection, dialogue, and action. Today we present Sonya Clark’s Black and White Flags from our 2016 exhibition, “Faces of Politics: In/Tolerance.”
Sonya Clark is a social practice artist, who is deeply engaged in African American history and the language of objects. She is known for using a variety of materials to address race relations in our country, including hair, combs, and the Confederate Flag. In recent years, she has approached this highly charged flag as subject, deconstructing, dying, and bleaching the cloth to raise questions about the idolatry of such symbolic objects.
To create Black and White Flags (2015), Clark bleached a cotton Confederate battle flag and dyed a second one black to catalyze dialogue about the legacy and persistence of racism in the United States. “I tried to bleach it until it’s pure white and of course it won’t do that,” Clark says. “The bleach destroys the flag before it erases the imagery. Likewise, when I dye it black … it doesn’t go completely black.” This work was featured in the Fuller Craft Museum 2016 exhibition “Faces of Politics: In/Tolerance,” curated by Bruce Darryl Hoffman@don, and it is more relevant today than ever before.
Clark’s work has been exhibited in over 300 exhibitions, and is part of many permanent collections both in the United States and abroad. Clark received her BFA from the Art Institute of Chicago, where she studied under Nick Cave, and her MFA from the Cranbrook Academy of Art. She currently serves as Professor of Art at Amherst College, and was previously the Chair of the Craft/Material Studies Department at Virginia Commonwealth University. She is one of ten artists featured in the upcoming exhibition “Another Crossing: Artists Revisit the Mayflower Voyage” opening at Fuller Craft in the summer of 2021. http://sonyaclark.com/
Syd Carpenter is a Philadelphia-based ceramic artist and a professor of studio art at Swarthmore College. Her recent creative practice investigates the threat of extinction that faces African American farming in rural Southern communities. This body of work was conceived as Carpenter traveled to over a dozen farms in Georgia and South Carolina, documenting conversations and capturing the distinct visual richness of the properties. Each sculpture represents a farm, garden, or property owner, through the inclusion of objects and forms encountered during her visit—the vegetation, topography, architecture, and even skin. Like all the works in this series, Ervin and Cornelius Holifield is named for owners of the farm that is pictorially represented. It was accepted into Fuller Craft Museum’s permanent collection in 2016.
Carpenter was born in Pittsburgh, PA in 1953 and earned an MFA from Tyler School of Art. Over the course of her career, she has taught at Anderson Ranch, Haystack Mountain School, Penland School, Chicago Art Institute, Hollins University, Dickinson College, Millersville University, Howard University, and the University of Delaware, among others. She has received awards from the Pew Fellowship in the Arts, the National Endowment for the arts, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and the Leeway Fellowships in the Arts. She has been featured in numerous exhibitions across the U.S., and her work is represented in major public collections, including Philadelphia Museum of Art, Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC, James A. Michener Museum of Art, Doylestown, PA, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA, and Fuller Craft Museum.
Ervin and Cornelius Holifield, 2003
26” x 24” x 3”
Clay, graphite on wood board
Born and raised in The Bahamas, Anina Major decided to establish permanent residency outside her native country, a move that inspired her artistic exploration of the relationship between self and place. Major’s roots further sparked her examination of Bahamian history and its ties to the commodification of the black female figure, which is evidenced in her powerful sculpture, “Weight in Gold.”
Major explains, “When there was no more gold to be sought in The Bahamas, there was very little interest except as a source of slave labor. In lieu of gold, the trade of people became the source of value, creating the foundation for the cultural, social, and political commodification. With the piece “Weight in Gold,” I pose questions surrounding the intrinsic value and status of the black female figure. It illuminates the legacy of colonialism and methods in which the body was once co-opted by the powerful to enact a certain trauma, and reiterates a universal cry that persists within our contemporary society, relating to agency over our own bodies as women. By reimagining and re-contextualizing history in relation to the black female body, it offers an alternative narrative that embodies cultural consciousness.”
Major studied at the College of The Bahamas before earning her BS in Graphic Design from Drexel University in 2003 and her MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2017. Major’s has been exhibited across the globe, in The Bahamas, the United States, and Europe. “Weight in Gold” was featured in the 2019 Fuller Craft Museum exhibition “Striking Gold: Fuller at Fifty.”
Weight in Gold, 2019
Ceramic, gold leaf
44 x 21 x 17″
Russell Biles creates satirical sculptural pieces that often explore themes of race, politics, and sexuality. Crafted in the style of Staffordshire pottery, his vignettes appear at first glance to be genteel, but they are in fact racially charged expressions reflecting his upbringing in the mill town of Concord, North Carolina.
Part of a series, “2nd Best Fight I Ever Saw and Wasn’t In” and “Baby, Baby, It’s a White World” were featured in the 2016 Fuller Craft Museum exhibition “Faces of Politics: In/Tolerance,” curated by Bruce Darryl Hoffman. The sculptures bring to light the shortcomings of social evolution, and the racial stereotypes that persist with each generation. Biles explains, “Today, as I look back, I realize how unconscionable the execution of integration was for the first black students. There was a total lack of compassion and understanding for these youth. They were pawns of adult hatred based on race; as children we all were.”
Russell Biles was born in 1959 in the southern region of the United States. A self-described “son of the South,” the artist currently lives and works in Greenville, SC. His work has been exhibited across the county and is included in a number of private and public collections, such as the Museum of Art and Design, NY; the Essex Peabody Museum, MA; and the Mint Museum, NC.
Hollie Lyko’s ceramic practice plumbs today’s social issues, including identity, sexuality, class divisions, and race relations. Her American Standard series originated when the artist noted an absence of people of color in the imagery of collectible dishware. After months of searching antique stores for designs featuring non-white figures, Lyko came upon two Syracuse China plates titled Southern Cotton Fields, circa 1952, featuring a pastoral scene of dark-skinned field laborers picking cotton. Using a Dremel tool, Lyko removed all but the workers engaged in their labor, thus erasing romantic ideals of agricultural labor, American slavery, and sharecropping. American Standard challenges long-held cultural stereotypes and highlights the discriminatory propaganda disseminated on antique collectibles. What’s more, the layered subtexts touch upon several current issues, including the whitewashing of American history, exploitative agricultural labor, and the systemic marginalization of people of color.
This work was brought into Fuller Craft Museum’s Permanent Collection in 2019 with the support of the artist and Ferrin Contemporary, North Adams, MA. It will be on display in “Tending the Fires: Recent Acquisitions in Clay” when the museum reopens to the public. (Exact date to be determined.) The original plate is shown in the comments.
Born in 1988, Hollie Lyko grew up northwest of Philadelphia in the small suburb of Hatfield, Pennsylvania. She earned her BFA in Ceramics from the University of Hartford and her MFA in Studio Arts from Syracuse University. She has been exhibited across the U.S. at such venues as The Clay Studio, Philadelphia, PA; Ferrin Contemporary, North Adams, MA; and the Wayne Art Center, Wayne, PA. She currently resides in San Antonio, Texas.
Iconoclast Joyce Scott’s Lynched Tree was featured in the 2016 Fuller Craft Museum exhibition “Faces of Politics: In/Tolerance,” curated by Bruce Hoffman. Scott’s original inspiration for Lynched Tree includes New Orleans’ rich southern history and her participation in the 2011 “Prospect.2” Biennial in the famed city. She collaborated with local artisans at New Orleans’ Inferno Glass Studio for the extensive glasswork, and ultimately installed the work in a tree on Tulane University’s campus.
In Fuller Craft Museum’s presentation of Lynched Tree, the outsized female was suspended upside down with her innards spilling around her limp form. (Second image from Goya Contemporary installation in Baltimore, MD.) While the subject may appear to be a victim, Scott maintains her original intent was for the woman to hold the position of power. “I didn’t hang her in the tree. She inhabited the tree. And I thought this is not someone who is being lynched by the tree. I think we’ll have her lynch the tree.”
Born in Baltimore in 1948, Joyce Scott has lived and worked in Maryland her entire life. Her lengthy career boasts a range of artistic endeavors, including installation, printmaking, sculpture, garments, jewelry, even stage performance. Scott’s diverse body of work serves as an expressive and focused commentary on issues plaguing our society, including stereotyping, sexism, violence, and other forms of prejudice and social injustice.
Joyce Scott, Lynched Tree, 2011
106” x 42” x 15”