Tag Archives: Black Craftspeople Digital Archive

Meet the ARLIS/NA SIGs Series: Decorative Arts SIG

Meet the ARLIS/NA SIGS: An ArLiSNAP blog series introducing you to the ARLIS special interest groups

Coordinators: Beth Goodrich, Beth Hylen

How can students and new professionals get involved in your SIG? And/or are there any projects in progress that need support they can provide?

One of our main communication tools for the SIG has been the blog and WordPress site.  While we have made postings to the site on occasion, it has been irregular, and the co-coordinators have found it difficult to maintain the site on a regular basis.  A great opportunity for a new member would be to take over the maintenance of the site and solicit content from SIG members to post.  Content could be in the form of announcements of new projects, online exhibitions to feature, or reposting of content for members’ institutional websites. All members are encouraged to contribute content for the blog.

Most years, the Decorative Arts SIG sponsors a session at the annual ARLIS/NA conference. We encourage everyone to suggest ideas, develop them into a session, and/or participate as a speaker/moderator.

Any of our ongoing projects such as the Directory of decorative arts libraries, or research into craft history curricula would also be good projects for students or new members to take part in.

What actions has your group taken to adapt to remote community engagement? What has worked well? What lessons have you learned?

We had our annual SIG meeting via Zoom in April, during what would have been the 2020 conference.  We had attendance that was similar in numbers to what we would typically see at the conference, so that was encouraging that members still want to engage as a group.  We are in the process of planning another fall meeting of the SIG via Zoom to pick up on our ongoing projects, discuss DEI initiatives at ARLIS/NA that the SIG can align with, and to prepare for the 2021 conference.  Having regular online meetings, biannually or quarterly, may be something we will carry forward if there is interest.  

From your perspective, what are actions that can be taken within your SIG and the broader field of art information in order to examine the lack of diversity and develop networks of support for communities of color and specifically Black information professionals?

Taking a hard look at decolonizing collections and inviting in resources to actively investigate the hidden narratives of black artists. We would like to see the SIG do some deep exploration of resources that will tell these narratives, such as the Fashion and Race Database or the Black Craftspeople Digital Archive.  By collating a list of these types of resources, we may open an opportunity to connect with the creators of these resources and make a direct invitation to be a part of ARLIS/NA and/or the SIG.

How did you first hear about/join your SIG?

Beth G: I started the position as librarian at the American Craft Council in 2017.  My predecessor was co-coordinator of the Decorative Arts SIG and she asked me if I would be willing to continue her term in the position.  I have been co-coordinator with Beth Hylen since that time.

Beth H: As a reference librarian at The Corning Museum of Glass, I was immediately attracted to the Decorative Arts SIG. Linda Sakelson [spelling?] and a group of us revitalized the SIG about a decade ago. It’s a small group, so it’s easy to get involved and make a difference.

What are the main topics of conversation for your SIG right now? Has there been any unexpected or fruitful conversation in the past year?

Craft History curriculum in higher education:  One of our members, Joan Benedetti, has been interested in compiling a list of programs in which a discreet curriculum of the history of craft is taught.  She is looking at the types of courses, the instructors, and the types of programs (degree earning, craft school) that exist, and the hope is to advocate for more robust craft history curricula.

Directory of decorative arts library collections:  This has been a topic for a number of years, to compile a directory of libraries with dedicated or substantial collections of resources pertaining to the decorative arts.  This would be a great project for students or new group members to become involved in.

Montreal 2020:  Members of the SIG were planning to present a session at the 2020 conference “Now Screening: How Films and Video Enhance Documentation of the Decorative Arts.”  We have been invited to take this presentation to the 2021 conference, so we will need to begin planning soon.

How has this SIG enhanced your professional life?

Being a member of the Decorative Arts SIG has given me the opportunity to meet other library professionals with similar collections, which is especially important to me as a solo librarian.  I am able to collaborate with and discuss topics and issues with other library professionals, which I cannot do with my organization colleagues.  Being a part of the SIG has also given me a deeper awareness of the collections and resources that exist relevant to the decorative arts, which is helpful to me in connecting my patrons with the resources and information they need. 

How can we get connected with or learn more about your SIG? (primary platform for sharing, etc.)

We post information about meetings, member events, and maintain resource lists on our WordPress site, http://decarts.arlisna.org/ .  We have an email Google group to which we will also send announcements.

Members can also contact us directly with questions, Beth Goodrich bgoodrich@craftcouncil.org and Beth Hylen ehylen@stny.rr.com 

What is an emerging trend you see happening in your particular area of interest?

Interest in craft history, as mentioned above in the topics of interest above.  

Critical craft studies (see Warren Wilson College MA in Critical Craft Studies https://www.warren-wilson.edu/programs/ma-in-craft/ )

Currently, there are important conversations relating to the lack of diversity within the glass field. Are there ways our SIG members’ libraries can help?: https://www.glassart.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Important_Message_GASnews_Spring_2020_FINAL.pdf 

Diversity and making space for underrepresented voices is a hot topic in the field of craft lately.  Conversations around this topic have been front and center of recent programs at the American Craft Council.  See the Preview Party conversation for San Francisco Bay Area Craft Week, which included a conversation between Nate Watson (author of the above open letter to the Glass Art Society) and Gyongy Laky.  See also the American Craft Forum: Craft Thinking Part 2 on the American Craft Council website.  This conversation with members of the craft field centers around craft as a social practice art form, advocating for underrepresented voices and equity.  Part 2: (Re)centering craft in our Social Lives.

How have the members of your SIG been contributing to their field of practice or study in that area?

See mention above of Joan Benedetti’s research efforts in identifying craft history curricula.  The hope is to publish in some way a resource list online that would be helpful for those interested in the study of the history of decorative arts.

As you look ahead, what are your goals, vision, or dreams for your SIG for the next year?

We would like to see the SIG meet more often than the annual meeting at the national conference, and I think using an online platform will make that possible.  Providing some resources for the SIG that illuminate underrepresented narratives in the decorative arts is essential at this time.  I would like to see members look at all projects with a critical eye toward advancing diverse collections, resources and services.  And I hope to see increased interest in the SIG, with more young professionals taking an active role.