Handwork: Celebrating American Craft 2026 Announced

June 21, 2024

Craft in America is pleased to announce the launch of Handwork: Celebrating American Craft 2026, a national Semiquincentennial initiative to showcase the importance of the handmade, both throughout history and in contemporary life. Handwork 2026 will be a year-long collaboration among organizations, educators, and makers to celebrate the diversity of the crafts that define America, bringing compelling stories and underrepresented art and artists into the spotlight. Craft is universal and democratic; it unites us by bringing people of all backgrounds and beliefs together. A deeply important carrier of tradition and cultural practice, the handmade connects us through history and time. The Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the national museum dedicated to American craft, is the lead partner for the initiative and will host the core exhibition for the project. Americans for the Arts, a leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts and arts education, is the Awareness partner for this project. Handwork 2026 will focus on the following programs. Exhibitions Handwork: Celebrating American Craft 2026 culminates with a core exhibition opening in late 2026 at the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Museums and art centers joining as participants in the Handwork 2026 initiative will complete the rich diversity of interpretations on the work of the hand with exhibitions and related programs throughout the year. The program invites all museums and regional arts centers to join this effort with the craft-centric, culture-based exhibitions being planned for the year 2026. Documentary Film Series and Digital Content A four-part documentary film series will be produced by the team behind the Peabody Award-winning, PBS national series titled Craft in America. The series will present a rich, democratic exploration of the handmade in traditional, studio, ethnic, and contemporary practices. Handwork 2026 plans to partner with PBS and their 350-plus independent member stations to broadcast and stream both current and archival craft programs, including new digital programs for YouTube and social media audiences. Book Presenting the extraordinary range of the handmade in the U.S., the Handwork 2026 book will feature craft history, artists, materials and processes, focusing on undertold stories. The book will be object-based. It will include essays by leading experts, images of exquisite handmade objects and a craft timeline. It will illuminate the contributions of craftspeople throughout our history. It will be one of the first and only books to bridge history by exploring the craft continuum over the span of American culture. Education The education component of Handwork 2026 will include interdisciplinary learning initiatives at all levels of the education system, with a special focus on grades K12. It will take a wide look at the history, cultural traditions, and impact of craft in the United States, from Indigenous origins until today. Marilyn Stewart, Ph.D, a nationally recognized art educator and author of art textbooks, will oversee the creation of the education guides. The guides will include hands-on craft activities and will be available on www.craftinamerica.org and www.handwork2026.org. Engagement In partnership with local, state and national organizations, Handwork 2026 will be amplified by a robust social media campaign, and all activities joining the national celebration will be documented on a comprehensive, aggregate. To learn more, visit www.handwork2026.org. Handwork: Celebrating American Craft 2026, an idea envisioned by a group of dedicated craft professionals and artists, takes its inspiration from a similar project, Year of American Craft 1993, that benefitted millions of artists, makers and appreciators. Much has changed in America since 1993, but the practice of making things by hand endures.The crafts built our nation, and they sustain it through challenging times. Nationwide programs will honor American makers, then and now, pointing the way to a robust future for the crafts and the country. For more information about how to become an official partner of or participant in Handwork 2026, email Jen Ruppmann at handwork@craftinamerica.org.

 

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