The History of Craft and How Artisans Created America — Glenn Adamson’s New Book Gets a Texas Moment

Paper City MagazinePosted April 21, 2021 in In The News

Crafting a Legacy Lets You Get Involved

By Crystal Correa

Glenn Adamson’s groundbreaking new book, “Craft: An American History,” rewrites the history of our country’s craft movement with its focus on diversity and inclusion. The charismatic author is the featured speaker at Houston Center for Contemporary Craft’s spring benefit, Crafting a Legacy, set for Thursday, April 22, 6 pm.

There’s nothing like wrapping yourself in a crocheted or handwoven textile, seeing the ridge marks of evenly spaced fingers on clay that has been delicately turned into a useful ceramic piece, or basking in the mystical properties of Native American jewelry. But have you ever stopped to think about the artisans behind these masterpieces?

Glenn Adamson, curator, writer and historian, did just that and dug even deeper in his new book Craft: An American History. This year, attendees of the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft’s annual Crafting a Legacy fundraiser can enjoy the charismatic Adamson virtually this Thursday night, April 22.

Adamson will discuss his new book and share his findings on how artisans created America along with other surprising history dating back from the nation’s origin to present day.

AIDS memorial quilt on the National Mall lawn; 20,000 quilts are displayed. The Washington Monument can be seen in the background. (Photo by Jeffrey Markowitz/Sygma via Getty Images)

Glenn Adamson is no stranger to writing and has been published multiple times. His knowledge of fields of craft, design history and contemporary art has been refined and broadened from formerly working as the director of the Museum of Arts and Design in New York City, head of research at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, and curator at the Chipstone Foundation in Milwaukee.

Join curator, author, and historian Glenn Adamson on Thursday , April 22 as he dishes about his new book “Craft: An American History.”

While many credit the nation’s economic or social development to industry and technology, Adamson argues that makers are at the heart and center of  America’s identity. During Adamson’s intriguing talk, he will touch on interesting facts and share stories from his intensive research that will bring the artisans to life.

Glenn Adamson’s book  — a mirror of our socially conscious time — brings about a new appreciation for the groups of individuals that are often over looked or don’t receive deserved credit for expanding craft, and in turn helped shape America. African Americans, Native Americans, seamstresses and those from the labor movement.

“A celebratory history of craft’s potential to liberate America from its racism, xenophobia, and sexism,” is what the influential Booklist wrote about Glenn Adamson’s Craft: An American History.

Virtual viewers will also enjoy an appearance by HCCC Board president Judy Nyquist and have an opportunity for a Q&A during the chat between Adamson and HCCC executive director Perry Price. Underwriters will get to enjoy the perks of an exclusive virtual meet-and-greet with Adamson, a signed copy of the new book, and gourmet refreshments.

Fashion is a prime example of defining oneself and has played a large role in shaping America’s identity. American hip hop musician and rapper Roxanne Shante, wearing an outfit by Dapper Dan, circa 1989. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

All proceeds go to Houston Center for Contemporary Craft so they may continue the growth and nurturing of the Houston art community. The Craft Center provides education on the process, product and history of craft. HCCC, for nearly 20 years, has offered contemporary craft to all ages through hands on and virtual programs. The craft-focused nonprofit is dedicated to fostering emerging and promoting acclaimed artists while presenting exhibitions and providing support through the Craft Center’s innovative, open-studio, artist residency program.

We leave you with the words of Kirkus, whose starred review of Craft: An American Legacy, describes it as “A rich chronicle of craft in America from Jamestown to the present day … Adamson leads us on a chronological journey through American history, pointing out along the way — sometimes in lush detail — the various craft movements and ideas that were prominent at certain times.

“The text swarms with interesting anecdotes and names — some well-known and others who will be less familiar to most readers … Thoroughly researched and written with passion — and a bit of bite.”