A new episode of the PBS docuseries “Craft in America” focused on the arts and democracy premiered digitally this week and is available to stream now on the PBS Video App, at PBS.org/craftinamerica, and at craftinamerica.org, in advance of the episode’s Dec. 11 television broadcast on PBS.
“Craft in America: DEMOCRACY” explores how craft intertwines with our nation’s defining principles, providing inspiring examples of artists and organizations working together to embody our democratic ideals. Perhaps more than ever, it is critical that we hear the voices of the artists, art advocates, and cultural workers who define and unite our nation through their work.
The episode begins with Robert L. Lynch, President and CEO of Americans for the Arts, who speaks to the presence of craft in U.S. history and the role of government in the arts. “Craft and art are core to the democracy we have here in the United States,” Lynch says in the episode. He adds, “Right there in the beginning of our country are references to what makers do and what makers have a right to be protected for,” noting that Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution explicitly gives Congress the power “to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts.”
Also featured in the episode are:
- Calligrapher Sammy Little discussing the importance of cursive handwriting in our nation’s democratic traditions
- Reflections from curators at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History & Culture, Renwick Gallery, and National Museum of the American Indian
- A visit with multi-disciplinary artist and Cheyenne Peace Chief Harvey Pratt of Oklahoma, who is designing the National Native American Veterans Memorial
- Three veteran artists who express themselves and their wartime experiences through craft via the Library of Congress’s Veterans History Project
- A look back at the 1972 exhibition “Islands in the Land” celebrating handcrafted objects from Appalachia and the Rio Grande Valley
- The work-study program at Berea College in Kentucky, where traditional Appalachian craft is kept alive through a diverse and integrated student body
Through these examples, “Craft in America: DEMOCRACY” explores how the interaction between government and the arts inspires our lives, fuels the creative economy, and protects our multicultural heritage.