Launch BGC Craft, Art & Design Oral History Project

The Bard Graduate Center Craft, Art, and Design Oral History Project is an online archive of oral history interviews of contemporary craftspeople, artists, and designers. The primary form of these oral history interviews are transcripts, often accompanied by photographs of interviewees and their work; some also feature audio and video clips. These makers come from many fields: studio craft in wood, ceramics, fiber, jewelry, and metalwork, as well as multiple media; architectural, industrial, graphic, fashion, and costume design; and sculpture and installation art. Topics discussed include background and education, aesthetics, goals, career choices, and the marketplace.

The project responds to the growing interest in craft and design history, in which oral histories have been a key resource for a growing body of scholarship. The goals of the project are twofold. One is to document, preserve, and make available the voices of contemporary makers for the purpose of research. By including creators in multiple fields, the archive provides the opportunity to consider the distinctions, continuities, and fluidity among their practices and their work. The project’s second goal is to share strategies for developing primary sources on contemporary craft, art, and design through the practice of oral history.

The interviews have been conducted by graduate students in the seminar “Craft and Design in the USA, 1940–Present,” taught by Assistant Professor Catherine Whalen, who also directs the project. Bard Graduate Center students have been building this archive since 2007 and are continuing to do so.