Last year, the majority of the craft artists who sought CERF+’s emergency relief assistance did so after suffering impacts from climate or weather-related emergencies, such as hurricanes, tornadoes, and wildfires. As the threat of climate change intensifies across the globe, we want to honor several creative initiatives that address climate change and sustainability issues in the field of craft. We invite you to take a moment to discover how sustainability is being addressed in the field through solutions involving shared studio spaces that are as innovative and creative as the artists they support.
Landfills are typically thought of as exacerbating environmental problems, including climate change. But, over the past couple of decades, several art studios have been developed around old landfills, using methane produced by these landfills to power the studios. For example, the Jackson County Green Energy Park (JCGEP) in western North Carolina uses methane from the town’s old landfill to power their glass, blacksmithing/metals, and ceramics studios. JCGEP offers public outreach, providing tours, offering classes and workshops, and keeping their studios open for rentals.
As the pandemic eases its grip, maker spaces are becoming increasingly popular across the country. By sharing equipment and studio space, both the environmental impact and monetary costs are reduced. Some colleges and universities offer low cost craft studio memberships not only for their students, but also for the public. These spaces can act as incubators, especially for emerging artists.
Sara Atencio-Gonzales, Executive Director of the ASUNM Arts and Crafts Studio, relayed, “The ASUNM Arts & Crafts Studio is an open ceramics and jewelry workshop. Members enjoy access to pottery wheels, hand-building tools, electric kilns, a full-service jewelry and silversmith bench, and an experienced staff of technicians and student instructors. Membership includes materials costs for ceramics including clay, glazes and tool use. Jewelry materials may be purchased from the studio at a discount.”
Shared studio spaces are not a novel concept as artists have always appreciated their benefits, which extend far beyond cost savings and environmental sustainability. Being an independent studio artist can be isolating, so even artists with their own work spaces will sometimes sign up for time in a shared maker space to enjoy the camaraderie of their fellow creatives.
Some maker spaces even focus on the creative recycling of materials. For example, Austin Creative Reuse invites the public to donate unwanted materials that can be used for art making. At CERF+, we are continually inspired by the many creative efforts to minimize environmental impacts and encourage everyone to look into how to make their own practices a bit more sustainable. Shared studios are one solution, but there are countless other ways to reduce environmental impacts.
Photos courtesy of Sara Atencio-Gonzales.