In February 2022, the William Morris Society in the United States will host its second panel at the CAA Annual Conference. We invite paper proposals for the session, titled “From “the beauty of life” to craftivism: Women and the Arts & Crafts Movement”and convened by Margaretta Frederick (Delaware Art Museum).
Women creatives were present from the earliest days of youthful collaboration at Red House through the founding of Morris, Marshall, Faulkner and Co. in 1861 and the ensuing Arts & Crafts Movement. Their work inspired generations to come. Women were, for the most part, welcomed into the Arts & Crafts circle, providing a breach in entrenched societal barriers excluding them from professional careers in the arts. These female practitioners represented a new definition of womanhood, transitioning the gender from private to public-facing. Creatively their work spurred the Victorian towards the modern, extending beyond the individual object to a new holistic concept of the interiors for which they were designed—the spaces from which the “new woman“ emerged. These objects and interiors reflected what Zoë Thomas has described as “the radical potential of art work in contemporary women-centered causes.” Women’s craftwork became the talisman for society’s wounds. In 1914 May Morris described postwar creativity as an opportunity to “show our belief in the Beauty of Life.” The engagement of craft with social activism as practiced by Morris and others continues to the present with the advent of craftivism.
Panelists may investigate the craftwork of women who were inspired by or embraced a Morrissian aesthetic and/or philosophy in the United Kingdom and beyond, from the earliest days of the Pre-Raphaelites through the present. Papers might address methods of production; exhibition strategies; responses to/reflections on contemporaneous socio-political concerns; or strategies for negotiating cultural gender biases, among other related topics.
CAA currently plans to conduct the 2022 conference on a hybrid virtual and in-person model. This session is scheduled to take place in person at the conference venue in Chicago between February 16th and 19th, date and time to be announced.