Catching Up With Craft Alliance Downtown
I'm a huge champion for Saint Louis and all that it has to offer both residents and tourists alike. There are so many opportunities for creative types like myself, and the art scene is really booming. I had the opportunity to explore the insides of a current art fixture in Saint Louis recently - Craft Alliance's downtown location! I met with current Artist-in-Residence, Megan Singleton, and Michael Powell, the marketing manager of Craft Alliance, to talk further about the non-profit organization and its influence on our community.
Yasmin of local blog Bangles & Bungalows also attended the meet-up, and we had a blast learning more about Megan's work. She is a fiber artist of sorts, and not the kind of fiber you find in clothes! Through a paper-making process, she creates her work from plant fibers that she collects. The image below shows a piece (that I apparently found amusing for a reason I can't recall) that is inspired by the yucca plant, which is native to Missouri. It grows in the most unlikely of places - from graveyards to deep urban areas. Megan explains that her work often focuses on "reinterpreting the plant's form" rather than creating sculptural recreations of the original plant. We asked how she best chooses plants to create from, and she explained her "twist test," which involved taking a part of the plant and twisting it over on itself. The farther it can go, the sturdier the fibers are, which make for better paper! We chatted further about where she finds her plants, what rules apply to the plants she works with (some invasive species cannot even be removed from their state, even if they're in the way and need to be killed off!), and how she'll never run into a shortage of materials in her process.
Some of the work I liked best in Megan's studio were pieces based on how the paper she makes dried around shapes. She sells wearable art and creates pieces that have a skeleton of varying thicknesses of wire. She applies the wet paper product to the wires, shapes it, and as the paper dries, it contracts and pulls the wire into different shapes. Fascinating! She also works with dying fabrics, silk, and more.
She explained that she was invited by Craft Alliance to become a part of their artist-in-residence program, which I think is super cool! As a former art student, I remember how competitive residency programs can be! Craft Alliance is specifically aiming to help make STL a more art-pedestrian friendly zone, especially with their downtown location and its artists in residence there. Megan says that being with Craft Alliance has allowed her to "branch out (a cute plant pun!)" in her work, and Michael quipped that it's helped her to explore an "ambassadorship for the plants" with her art. Megan and Michael also spoke about the mentoring program called Crafting A Future, which brings high school students into a learning environment regarding various kinds of crafting. I was intrigued by this, because I think it is so very important for aspiring art kiddos to have practice with presenting their work, accepting critiques, and exploring the business side of the art world before they are tossed into the fray of college!
Each year, Craft Alliance throws a huge party called the Makers Ball to help support their organization, invite the public to meet local makers, celebrate the artistry of makers and craft, and bring the art community closer together. The fundraiser supports the exhibitions and community education programs at Craft Alliance Center of Art and Design It's coming up this Saturday, and if you don't have plans, I highly encourage you to check out joining the fun! It's your chance to shine in a locally-made outfit, accessory, or wearable art. For my meeting with Megan and Michael, I wore jewelry crafted by two of my favorite local makers:
My lil' brass ball locket is one of my favorite necklaces! Check out Fable & Lore on Etsy to shop her incredible handmade pieces!
I dressed casually for our day at Craft Alliance because I will not be attending the ball due to a previously-scheduled DJ gig. I really, really hope I can attend next year because I have never, ever, not once, been to a big gala, and I feel like I'm missing out!
So you should go in my stead!
Find tickets here: http://registeratca.org/civicrm/event/register?reset=1&id=2268
If you can't attend, there are other ways to be keep the arts community in Saint Louis thriving and growing! Support is always needed, so if you're interested in becoming further involved, you can enjoy great benefits by becoming a member of Craft Alliance! From classes and camps to exhibition and community programs, your support will play in a vital role in the organization. For more information, please visit this page.
You can also help by donating here: http://www.craftalliance.org/support/donate.htm
Thanks to Craft Alliance for inviting me to hang out with them on a Saturday, and to Michael and Megan for being such fun, enlightening hosts on our tour of the studios!
Major props go to photographer Brandon Halley for these amazing images!
Sweater: Madewell | Jeans: Urban Outfitters | Necklace: Fable & Lore
Large Earring: Sahgol Jewelry | Glasses: SEE Eyewear | Boots: Thrifted