To me, craft is what connects us to our surroundings.
It’s a bond that is tangible.
My development as a craft artisan has not been linear. I have a degree in art, have spent time learning ancestral living skills, and come from a rural upbringing that included gardening, splitting firewood, and being part of a small community. I have also had the opportunity to spend extended periods of time in Australia, Sweden, Nepal, the Middle East and many other countries and regions. I’ve been experimenting with combining what I know from my various backgrounds with different ideas of what it means to be a crafts-person. Through that process I’ve realized I am not interested in creating and selling large bodies of work in order to make a living. I want to teach others how to craft a life. Coming to this realization has been freeing and changed for the better the intention that goes into the items I create.
This focus also coincides with a deep curiosity in the material culture of early people. My interest lies in two areas: living happily with fewer possessions and living in such a way that most needs are provided by the land itself. This can take many forms, from teaching community members how to carve their own bowl to harvesting natural fibers to make rope. I believe the connection between hand skills, craft skills, and the environment is one of the most underdeveloped in our society, and would like to see that change.
I am particularly interested in understanding how to harvest and use local resources to make things we need in our daily lives. There is so much to be gained by making choices based on the health of the land, and I believe people who spend time directly interacting with the environment have a wealth of knowledge of how to care for it that is lost in our culture. To me, craft is what connects us to our surroundings. It’s a bond that is tangible. This understanding is why I personally want to learn techniques specific to forest environments and then apply them to my own work, which is to say, not make copies, appropriate a culture, or claim something as my own. If we could teach people how to consume less, and craft their needs from what is provided in nature, we would all be better off.
In a world that is at the tipping point due to mass consumption and unfettered use of non-renewable resources, I see an absolute need for humankind to remember the skills needed to interact with our immediate environment. I would like to teach those around me how to solidify the bond we have as human beings to our natural world. This is one of the most important things I can do as a person living in this pivotal era. I have witnessed first-hand the moments when students see the connection between raw material and craft through my teaching experience at Fireweed Community Woodshop (MN), the American Swedish Institute (MN), and Woodlands Fest (AUS). In teaching with these organizations, I’ve interacted with students from vastly different backgrounds and experiences, including all-women’s workshops, non-binary identifying students, and students with diverse socioeconomic histories. These experiences have reinforced my own ideas about the human need to employ one's hands in creating practical, utilitarian objects. It's something I'm proud to be a part of.