As you may or may not know, I'm involved with a craftivist collective called the New Craft Artists in Action, whose goal is to address public space, diversity, collaboration, feminism, and interdisciplinary learning through fiber arts and craft practices. We were recently asked to create an installation in Tandem with an exhibition about female artists in turn-of-the-century Boston, called Craft & Modernity: Professional Women Artists in Boston (1890-1920).
Myself and a few other members of the collective chose to create an installation responding to the intersections of Professionalism and Feminism, using knitting, crochet, screenprinting, and sign painting as a medium of investigation. From our press release:
Basketball has been played by women since its creation, with an introduction of the sport to Smith College by Senda Berenson Abbott in 1893. Until the creation of the WNBA in 1997, with the signing of its first player, Sheryl Swoopes, commercial recognition and involvement for women in the sport was limited. The 1990’s thus marked a time of wider acceptance and support, but one may argue that professional women’s basketball existed since the 1930’s; A great example being the All American Redheads who toured and competed with both women and men from the 1930’s-80’s. The heroes of women’s basketball are beginning to be inducted into Springfield, MA’s Basketball Hall of Fame and recognized at Knoxville, TN’s Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, which opened in 1999 in the town where the legendary Pat Summit coached the UT’s “Lady Vols”. While appreciation of these exceptional athletes and inspiring figures is on the rise, their identities still stand second tier in a sport, culture, and economy that remains male-dominated.
While the NCAA is often critical of the more recent extreme polarization of commercialized craft and sport, we’d like to highlight and celebrate the achievements of women within this context. We’ll explore the radical development of female identities and roles during the late 19th and 20th centuries, specifically through the practice of academic and professional basketball. Original artworks will be crafted by artists in our collective to both honor individual figures and create a narrative told via hand-made objects and ephemera inspired by historical Hall of Fame or Museum exhibition styles. It is through this aesthetic and historical investigation that we unearth the possibilities of marginalized women in the world of professional sports and call into question popular culture’s perception of women as professionals.
Here are some shots from the exhibition, which is on view until December 6th at the Boston University Annex Gallery, located in Fine Arts building at 855 Commonwealth Ave, Boston MA. If you're in the Boston area, be sure to check it out along with the Craft + Modernity Exhibition next door! Click images for a description.
If you're interested in learning about the NCAA and our recently released book, check out our website!