Crafted Strangers

On view: September 15, 2017 – January 6, 2018


Opening Reception: September 15, 2017

In the United States and Canada government policies and popular media create a misleading narrative that places people of color at society’s margins. From cultural restrictions to harmful stereotypes the seemingly opposite experiences of the first and most recent people to live on this land share the same struggles. Framed within the Native American and immigrant experience, Crafted Strangers explores how craft can be used as a tool for regaining control over how one chooses to define themself.

The seventeen artists featured in Crafted Strangers represent a diverse and unique perspective of racial and ethnic identities within the Americas. While craft has been a common means of expression historically across cultures, Crafted Strangers focuses on contemporary artists reinterpreting tradition. Through the materials selected, the tools used, and the method of display, traditions of beading, weaving, tufting, sewing, collage, braiding and drumming are reimagined. This treatment of the craft genre allows for a sophisticated dialogue that questions how strangeness or otherness are crafted and broken. What does it feel like to be a stranger in home, society, and country? Look beyond first impressions and see identity as an evolving collection of experiences rather than a fixed story.

The curators would like to acknowledge that we are guests in the unceded territory of the Tsalagiyi Detsadanilvgi people of what is presently called Asheville, North Carolina.

Artists include: Indira Allegra (Oakland, California), Joi T. Arcand (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada), Laura Anderson Barbata (Brooklyn, New York), LeighAnn Bogner Winslow (Levittown, Pennsylvania), David Antonio Cruz (Newark, New Jersey), Jeneen Frei Njootli with Tsēma Igharas (Vancouver, BC, Canada), Rose Luardo (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), Amy Malbeuf (St. Lina, Alberta, Canada), Joiri Minaya (Bronx, New York), Sage Paul (Hamilton, Ontario, Canada), Wendy Red Star (Portland, Oregon), Daisy Quezada Ureña (Santa Fe, New Mexico), Hiba Schahbaz (Brooklyn, New York), Jaret Vadera (Brooklyn, New York), Amy Wong (Belize City, Belize), Arjan Zazueta (Brooklyn, NY)

Visit the Matters Unsettled website for additional photos, resources, and exhibition information.

Crafted Strangers is curated by the 2017 CCCD Curatorial Fellows Matters Unsettled (Cass Gardiner and Quizayra Gonzalez) and organized by CCCD.

The 2017 CCCD Curatorial Fellowship was made possible by the John & Robyn Horn Foundation. Exhibition programming is supported by Donna and Ralph Briskin. CCCD is supported in part by a grant from the N.C. Arts Council, a division of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. Benchspace programming is supported in part by Sara and Bill Morgan.


Cover Image: Jaret Vadera, No Country (detail), 2014. Courtesy of the artist.


The CCCD Curatorial Fellowship is a yearlong pilot program created to give emerging curators a platform for exploring and testing new ideas about craft. For its inaugural year, three teams of Curatorial Fellows were selected out of a total of 54 applications.

Each team received a $5,000 honorarium, access to professional development tools, mentoring, and the opportunity to work closely with the other Curatorial Fellows and CCCD staff to produce their exhibition, develop educational materials, design an exhibition catalog, and deliver a curatorial talk. The selected exhibitions were first mounted in CCCD’s Benchspace Gallery & Workshop, located in Asheville, North Carolina, during the 2017 exhibition season.


Matters Unsettled is an emerging curatorial collective composed of Cass Gardiner and Quizayra Gonzalez. Gardiner is an indigenous artist and curator who holds an MFA from Ryerson University and an Honors BA from NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study. Gonzalez is a Dominican American artist and curator who holds an MA from Parsons and a BFA from the University of the Arts. Together, Gonzalez and Gardiner seek to create exhibitions that serve as forums for cultural research and experimentation. As artists and curators, they are driven to use the curatorial platform as a tool to challenge preconceived notions of culture, identity, and belonging. They live, work, and play in Brooklyn, New York. 


All events are free and open to the public (suggested donation $3-5), unless noted.
Registration recommended, drop-ins welcome.

Opening Reception and Curators’ Talk
Friday, September 15, 5:00 – 8:00 pm
Curators’ talk at 6:30 pm
Reception and exhibition talk with 2017 Curatorial Fellows Matters Unsettled (Cass Gardiner and Quizayra Gonzalez)

Salon Series: Book Discussion
Saturday, October 14, 4 pm
Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza by Gloria Anzaldua
Learn More and Register

Craft With A Stranger
Saturday, October 28, 6:30 pm
View the results of anonymous creative collaborations. Sign up by October 7 to participate.
Learn More and Register

Recipe Exchange & Mini Short-Film Festival
Thursday, November 2, 6:30 pm
Potluck, recipe exchange, and short film screening. 
Please note: CCCD is not responsible for food allergies/dietary restrictions of attendees. All attendees who consume food at this event understand and agree that they do so at their own risk.
Learn More and Register

More Than Just a Trend: Rethinking the ‘Native’ in Fashion
Thursday, November 9, 6:30 pm
Talk with Jessica Metcalfe, author of the blog Beyond Buckskin
Learn More and Register

Downtown Art District Gallery Nights
Benchspace Gallery & Workshop will stay open until 8 pm, 1st Fridays April-December.


The Center for Craft, Creativity & Design launches “Craft City”

The Center for Craft, Creativity & Design (CCCD) debuts a new program series this summer that honors Asheville as “Craft City.” At three outdoor pop-up studios this summer (July 7, August 4, and September 1) people of all skill levels and backgrounds can make a take-home craft under the guidance of a visiting artist.


VISIT: The Center for Craft, Creativity & Design | 67 Broadway Street, Asheville, NC 28801 | map it | Phone: 828.785.1357 Fax: 828.785.1372 | email us | Gallery hours: Tue - Sat 10-6