Workshop for "Power to the People: Practices of Empowerment through Craft." 10th European Academy of Design Conference, Gothenburg, Sweden, April 17-19, 2013.

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Taking the material processes of both wet and dry felting and the subject matter of the sea-sponge, this workshop explores learning by doing, or specifically the pedagogic power of craft.  How do collective making and the very process of constructing by hand empower participants to engage new fields of study? And in this case, with a focus on the sea sponge (as form and biological metaphor) the use of craft for both fostering collaboration and extending an understanding of ecology is explored.  Participants will use foam replicas of sea sponges produced beforehand by casting, to make a symbolic preservation of "our oldest animal relative." Up to 20 people will have the option of participating by needle felting onto individual models and then using wet felting to finish their piece. All will have the option of keeping their object or contributing it to an extended collaborative work: an installation of handmade sea sponge species, which will begin its collective unfolding in the summer of 2013.

Foam replicas of Spongia officinalis and Spongia officinalis lemella were produced in advance by Sponge HQ monitor Julia Hundley in Richmond, VA.
"Power to the People: Practices of Empowerment through Craft," was convened for the 10th European Academy of Design Conference by Otto von Busch, Pascale Gatzen and Lydia Matthews. Gothenburg Sweden, April 17-19, 2013.

Photo by Pascale Gatzen