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Jen Hewett on identity, community and inclusivity in craft

Jen Hewett.jpg
Jen Siska
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Jen Hewett
Textile artist, printmaker and author Jen Hewett in her studio.

How does craft deepen your understanding of your history, your community, or yourself? And how can predominantly-white craft spaces better welcome diverse experiences?

Textile artist and printmaker Jen Hewett threads the needle on these questions in her latest book, This Long Thread: Women of Color on Craft, Community and Connection. The book includes interviews with 19 fiber artists, and surveys hundreds of creators of color, all of whom draw on their relationship with making. This hour, we hear from Hewett – and briefly, from writer Mia Nakaji Monnier.

Plus, Susi Ryan is an author and social justice activist from Connecticut who co-founded the quilt guild, Sisters In Stitches Joined By The Cloth. Ryan recently wrote a piece about how craft connects her to her ancestors, titled "Cloth Has Given Me A Voice," for Mass Humanities' We, Too, Are America series. She says, "Cloth has given me a voice to recall the memory of my enslaved ancestors."

"The quilts that I create visually depict and document in cloth the life journeys of my family, my ancestors, and the many others who lived through the African diaspora," Ryan writes. "The stories my quilts tell allow me to ease into uncomfortable conversations about such critical issues as racism, social and medical justice, prison reform, African American history and literature, farm, food and housing sustainability, climate change, women’s rights, religion, politics, and human trafficking, that sadly still exists today."

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Cat Pastor contributed to this show which originally aired April 28, 2022.

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Katie is a producer for Connecticut Public Radio's news-talk show Where We Live. She has previously worked for CNN and News 8-WTNH. She enjoys Victorian novels and walks with her dog Sonny.
Lucy leads Connecticut Public's strategies to deeply connect and build collaborations with community-focused organizations across the state.