Lifestyle & Culture

Sustainability at Smithsonian Craft Show

April 21, 2019

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APRIL 25 marks the opening of the 37th Annual Smithsonian Craft Show,  a must-see display of creativity, innovation and technical mastery.  120 artists representing the finest contemporary American crafts and design are set to exhibit and sell ceramics, furniture, glass, jewelry, leather, metal, mixed media, paper, wearable art and wood.

Coincident with Earth Day’s vital message about protecting the environment, 21 of the show’s artists focus on sustainability in their work.

“Art addressing climate change is a rapidly growing field,” said Fran Dubrowski, director of Honoring the Future®.​ “These pioneering artists offer inventive ideas for curtailing human impacts on the environment. They are true cultural leaders who deserve recognition.”

LEFT: Textile artist Amy Nguyen used the ancient dyeing technique of shibori to create pattern and color on the fabric before creating this pieced and sculptural Long Swing Coat, which is made from locally sourced wool. RIGHT: This Shaggy Chic Scarf  uses the leftover bits and pieces from Fritelli-Lockwood‘s garment and accessory collections. The body of the scarf is handwoven in tencel, silk, and rayon chenille, while the border is created by sewing small square patches together at the corners to create texture and fringe. 


Among the 21: Metalsmith Stacey Lee Webber uses found materials like pennies and screws in her sculptures and jewelry. Holly Anne Mitchell makes eco-friendly jewelry from recycled newspapers, and Amy Nguyen produces garments using consciously sourced dyes, low water immersion techniques and zero-waste piecing. Cecilia Frittelli and Richard Lockwood’s contemporary clothing and accessory collection is handwoven on vintage looms. The duo uses American-spun yarns, including silk, merino, alpaca, and chenille, with a special emphasis on eco-friendly fibers from bamboo, hemp and soy and upcycle their leftovers into pieced and patchworked clothing. Jeweler Anna Johnson’s works, influenced by nature, cultural ideas of value and environmental preservation, consist mostly of found objects mixed with semi-precious and precious materials.

LEFT: To make this eco-friendly bracelet, Holly Ann Mitchell recycled newspaper colorful comic strips into handmade beads, stitched with Japanese glass seed beads as accents. ABOVE RIGHT: Metal artist Stacey Lee Webber’s pieces incorporate a wide range of techniques, including coin cutting, embroidery, metal fabrication, weaving and resin pouring. Her George Circled Teardrops are made with pierced vintage silver quarters soldered to sterling silver square wire that is formed into a teardrop shape and then attached to oxidized silver french wire hoops. BELOW RIGHT: Jeweler Anna Johnson‘s intent is to “create soulful pieces that present nature in an unfamiliar context that will perhaps trigger people to make more conscious efforts to protect the environment.” Her Lepori Earrings are made from spessartine garnets, lemon quartz, rabbit vertebrae (ethically sourced), fine silver, sterling silver and cast wildflowers.


A Preview Night Benefit, April 24 from 6pm to 9:30pm, includes an awards ceremony, a cocktail buffet, an opportunity to meet the artists and early access for seeing and buying one-of-a-kind crafts. Tickets are $250.  On Thursday, April 25, from 6 to 7 p.m., the Craft Show’s “Convo with the Visionary” will feature this year’s Smithsonian Visionary Artist Award recipient, Joyce J. Scott. She will speak with Stephanie Stebich of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, followed by a question-and-answer session. Baltimore-born Scott uses off-loom hand-threaded beads and blown glass to create jewelry as well as figurative sculptures and wall hangings. Tickets are $45 per person and include all-day Thursday admission to the craft show (open until 8pm) and one complimentary drink. Alternatively, Thursday visitors can shop, snack and hang out with their pals at Friends Night Out from 5 to 8pm for the general admission price of $20.

The four-day show and sale will take place April 25–28 at the National Building Museum, 401 F St. N.W. in Washington, D.C. The nearest metro is Judiciary Square. Admission is $20 at the door, but get your ticket for the show in advance at Smithsonian Craft Show and shave $3 off the price.  Hours are Thursday, April 25, 10:30am to 8pm.; Friday, April 26 and Saturday, April 27, 10:30am to 5:30pm and Sunday, April 29, 11am to 5pm.


—Janet Kelly


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