Craft as a Pedagogy of Hope

Appliqué meets activism in the JanTerm course: Craft as a Pedagogy of Hope. Students are working collectively to craft textile blocks that speak to issues of personal importance to form a larger community quilt. "I went to a school where social justice was really important but it was expressed through anger," said China Martin ’21 explaining why she chose to take this class. "I'm a very non-violent person, and I am interested in sewing so I thought it would be a great way to express myself through art."

"The class is a combination of the Social Justice Sewing Academy (SJSA) project—which is all about elevating youth voices—and the work that I did for my dissertation to research the history of craft and how people talk about craft today," said SMC Justice, Community, and Leadership professor, Suzanne Schmidt. This is Schmidt’s first time teaching a Jan Term course, noting that she is enjoying seeing the students embrace a new skill, and coming together as a community to complete the project.

Just as SMC’s nationally-recognized Justice, Community, and Leadership program focuses on teaching students to advance principles of inclusivity and the common good, Craft as a Pedagogy of Hope stitches together community and promotes a peaceful avenue for working to achieve social change. Through carefully crafted blocks of colorful fabric and embroidery, the students create a visual dialogue covering issues ranging from protecting the environment to racial equality to education for all.

Xavier Murray ’22 admitted that he is in the class because his first choice was dropped, but quickly added that he is surprised at how much he is enjoying it. "It's a super fun class," said Murray, while sitting on the floor beside a swath of red fabric for his art quilt block. "It's really therapeutic and a great creative outlet."The quilt blocks for the community and art quilts will be completed and assembled by SJSA volunteers, and will be added to their traveling exhibit in six to nine months.

Haley Nelson