For those who may not be familiar, I started shooting Handmade Nation in June 2006, the book (based off of research from the film) was released by Princeton Architectural Press in October 2008, and the film was released in February 2009 and the DVD will be released in November. The first three screenings were Milwaukee WI (where I am based), Hamburg Germany, and New York. The immediate feedback was and continues to be very positive. The audience, regardless of location, consistently talks about how they feel inspired, ready to go home and finish a project, re-organize their studio, start a class or for those who are not of the creative breed, support more artists. A lot of people tell me they leave feeling like they were a part of something much larger then they had realized. Overall, the general feeling is of empowerment. Empowerment to me is what craft is all about. Making choices and using those choices to create something.
Since February, Handmade Nation has been shown in over 6 countries and over 20 states in America. The dialogue discussed at the Q&A’s following the film are always fairly consistent. People are very interested in how I selected who was featured (I worked with people I knew and admired for the most part). The age long debate about what is art and what is craft and more specifically, the idea that our generation is less concerned with defining ourselves and more concerned with community. Race, class and gender politics come up sporadically as does the discussion around third wave feminism. More recently discussion around the economy and how it has effected makers whose income is based on the sales of their work.
And, what has surprised me most is that more often then not, older viewers are defensive about not being represented in the film. To this I always reply in one way or another, that the whole point of this film is to show that a younger generation of makers, my generation, are here doing things different. The point is not about ignoring what came before us, but acknowledging that things move forward and grow. Handmade Nation is a single step in that direction, educating and documenting a small slice of what is happening today within the larger art, craft and design community.