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Corey Pemberton. Photo courtesy of Corey Pemberton.

Crafting the Future is a nonprofit organization with the goal of diversifying the fields of art, craft, and design. Its central mission is to create an inclusive craft culture by connecting BIPOC artists with opportunities and networks that will help them thrive. Founded in 2018 by Corey Pemberton, Annie Evelyn, and a group of likeminded artists from Penland School of Craft, Crafting the Future is a nascent organization that is progressing with incredible energy.

Darshana Collins in a glassblowing workshop at Project Fire in Chicago. Photo courtesy of Crafting the Future.

Crafting the Future thrives on synergy by actively partnering with craft schools and youth arts organizations, such as YAYA. Recognizing that creative opportunities for Black and Brown artists have been limited, the organization provides several full scholarships and travel support for these students to take classes and workshops at a variety of craft schools around the country. In 2021, they provided over 30 full scholarships to several craft schools, including Penland School of Craft and Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts, four artist residencies at the Pittsburgh Glass Center, and several studio assistant stipends to improve accessibility for BIPOC artists. The organization also established offices and started an artist residency program in Los Angeles

Corey Pemberton is a professional glassblower and painter who splits his time between studio work and directing Crafting the Future. He first envisioned the organization in 2016 when he was just 26 years old, and he began building networks within existing organizations and craft schools. Although the work can be difficult at times, he tackles each challenge with his eyes set to the future, embracing others with his characteristic warm persona and positive can-do attitude. Pemberton says, “Our goals are to share the works of established BIPOC makers and entrepreneurs, connect young creatives in the early stages of career development with opportunities in their field, and build a network for participants that may include seemingly disparate communities. We hope to see you there!”

When asked what he is most excited about with respect to Crafting the Future, Pemberton discussed how they are partnering with Appalachian Center for Craft to create a program specifically for BIPOC students and artist instructors. Four instructors will be present to teach 35 teenage students. This opportunity will allow both the students and instructors to learn, create, and network in a highly supportive environment. Pemberton understands how important it is for young artists to be able to learn from artists of color, enjoy a sense of community, and identify with role models.

Shanti Broom in an iron workshop at Penland School of Craft in North Carolina. Photo courtesy of Crafting the Future.

In addition to supporting early career artists, Crafting the Future also supports mid-career and established BIPOC artists. Their website includes a directory that celebrates and promotes the work of Black and Brown artists. Crafting the Future’s Better Together is an event series that celebrates and supports the careers of newly and firmly established BIPOC makers. These events feature Black and Brown artists, performers, and entrepreneurs and increase awareness about the organizations and institutions that are striving to amplify Black and Brown voices. Their motto, “Create, Support, Empower,” is evident in everything they do. So far, they have organized a popup market for Black and Brown artists in El Segundo, California, invited Black glassblowers to work together at Pilchuk Glass School, and organized Better Together NOLA, an event in New Orleans that included a BIPOC vendor market, glass blowing demonstrations and musical performances.

Crafting the Future currently operates under the umbrella of Penland School of Craft, which serves as its fiscal sponsor and mentor. Currently, Penland School of Craft accepts donations on behalf of Crafting the Future while it works toward establishing its own 501c(3) status. You can follow them on Instagram @crafting_the_future or visit their website.



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