Tuesday, August 10, 2010

SKILLED: Art, Labor, and Business in Baltimore

"Baltimore is a place where artists can build their own economies: rather than coming to or staying in Baltimore to fill a job, creative people in this city make them," says artist Hannah Brancato, whose current project SKILLED: Art, Labor, and Business in Baltimore, documents how artists build business and contribute to their local economy through a creatively driven practice.

As an MFA candidate in MICA's Community Art program, Hannah recently served as a full-time Artist-in-Residence at House Of Ruth Maryland, where she taught women to create and sell jewelry in support of the shelter's art program. The empowering effect of using labor to both help oneself and to give back in some way led Hannah to think about how and why people make crafts in general, and how, purposefully or not, making and selling things helps to improve a person's surroundings. This experience, combined with her hypothesis that "people need a feeling of empowerment and control over their work in order to feel valuable" led to SKILLED.

Presented as a collection of conversations with artisans who have made their craft into their work, SKILLED will mark the beginnings of Hannah's research into the impact that small, creative business has on personal and collective happiness. The project will also provide advice, tools, and resources about how to start and maintain a small business in Baltimore.

AND (drum roll) I am so excited to announce that on September 13th, SKILLED will make its debut right here on Baltimore by Hand, with an interview profiling Kasey and Kelly Evick of Biggs and Featherbelle - a company that makes, markets, packages, and distributes health conscious body care products (pictured above).

"In documenting these businesses and individuals, SKILLED will help form a network of artists who are working from the ground up to shape Baltimore's future," says Hannah, whose lineup of forthcoming interviews includes some of Baltimore's best artisans.

So please mark your calendar and don't miss this ongoing series of engaging conversations about craft, creativity, and collective happiness. See you in September!

Image courtesy of Hannah Brancato.

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