I’ve been on Instagram for over three years now. In that time, there have been multiple digital decluttering outbursts involving mass unfollowing of accounts that no longer spark joy. But there are several artists whose work I truly love to follow - whose posts consistently put a spring in my step and a smile on my face. Whether or not they personally identify as ‘craftivists’, these artists share radical ideas and ideals in hugely popular, positive, and powerful ways.
Grace D. Chin (@gracedchin) is an artist and intersectional feminist who creates exquisite crepe flower wreaths. Her wreaths are made to circle political statements spelled out in hand-cut paper letters. Sometimes the sentences are sweet (“KINDNESS PREVAILS”); sometimes they’re of a sassier bent (“TAKE NO SHIT”, “A WITCH BOWS TO NO MAN”). But always they are succinct and uncompromising in the belief that women are capable and worthy of respect (“I AM MY OWN SANCTUARY”, “ALL BODIES ARE GOOD BODIES”, “IT IS NOT OVERREACTING TO ASK FOR WHAT YOU WANT AND NEED.”).
Becca Rea-Holloway (@thesweetfeminist) bakes cakes. These aren’t any ordinary oven products, however (though some would say that no baked good is ever truly ordinary). In the frosting of these baked delights are messages of rebellion and resistance: “make abortion accessible, not just legal!”; “take reparations seriously”; “I won’t be quiet so you can be comfortable”; “reclaim rent control”; “we don’t need permission to thrive”. I love that The Sweet Feminist reclaims this traditionally feminine practice - which like most practices perceived as being traditionally feminine is undervalued - in a creative, attention-grabbing (and no doubt delicious) act of civic protest.
I can’t possibly choose a favourite out of all the hand embroidery artists who publish their work on Instagram. But some of my favourite works include Hannah Hill’s (@hanecdote) 15-hour take on the Arthur fist meme (“When you remember that historically, embroidery hasn’t been taken seriously as a medium because it’s ‘women’s work’.”), Still Bitter Design’s (@stillbitterdesign) hoops (“There is no ethical consumption under capitalism”, “Venmo your ex-boyfriends for your unpaid emotional labour”, “Trans people are not a burden.”), and everything by Yumiko Higuchi (@yumikohiguchi) (no explicitly political slogans, just immense expertise in a craft that I and many others see as inherently a form of political expression).
Taking part in ‘domestic arts’ and crafts is political because it’s a way of reclaiming and honouring the centuries of uncredited, poorly paid/unpaid female labour. It’s political because it’s an act through which people can choose to seize the opportunity/luxury of spending hours on something inefficient that does not strictly need to be done. Domestic arts gift us the opportunity to become experts in the art of unrush, when we live in a society that increasingly demands more from women in terms of both paid and unpaid labour.
It’s also political because it’s fun. These arts clearly involve a creative process that gives people the joy of making something - of rendering their imaginations into something you can hold and share (both online and offline). And that’s not something I’m about to declutter from my newsfeed any time soon.Support Villainesse