The Genesis of Craft Optimism

2020 was a time of unprecedented challenge for our nation. We were reeling with four concurrent crises:

  • a COVID pandemic that sickened tens of millions of Americans, cost the lives of over 400,000 here at home, and devastated communities worldwide
  • a climate crisis that threatened the lives and livelihoods of millions around the globe
  • a racial equity crisis that demoralized and diminished Americans of all races, and
  • an economic crisis, which left many Americans unemployed and artists and arts organizations struggling for survival.

Yet we recognized that this was a truly unique moment in American history. We were present at the dawn of time when climate action would be prioritized. To meet these challenges, the Smithsonian Women’s Committee seeks to harness three strengths:

  • The power and creativity of craft artists who call attention to an Earth in crisis and offer concrete, inventive ideas for curtailing human impacts on the environment.
  • The Smithsonian’s stature as a trusted source of information in a society increasingly dependent on, and often uncomfortable with, science.
  • The vision of Secretary Lonnie Bunch, that the Smithsonian be the unifying voice which “gives us the unvarnished truth and the confidence to grapple with it” and fosters transformation through a culture of diversity and inclusion.

To capitalize on these strengths, the Smithsonian Women’s Committee is launching Craft Optimism in collaboration with Honoring the Future. Craft Optimism is:

  • A vision of a world where humans live in harmony with nature – and work together to preserve our Earth for ourselves, our children, and generations to come.
  • A climate-conscious maker’s market that taps the energy, talent and inspiration of creative artists to educate the public about, and inspire or model sustainable responses to, climate change.
  • A community of craft-makers and art-lovers who recognize and support the Smithsonian Institution as the national entity best suited to lead a cultural response to climate change.
  • Funds raised from Craft Optimism Sponsors are distributed to the Smithsonian to benefit education, outreach and research programs that address a Smithsonian Grand Challenge: Understanding and Sustaining a Biodiverse Planet. Please join us as we celebrate fine craft, thoughtful makers, and use of art to help further the message that climate change needs to be addressed now – as we raise funds to benefiut the smithsonian institution.

The Smithsonian Women’s Committee

The Smithsonian Women’s Committee awards grants for innovative Smithsonian educational, outreach and research projects and initiatives across 19 museums, research labs and the National Zoo. Funds are raised each year from two signature events, the Smithsonian Craft Show and Craft2Wear, both held in Washington, D.C. Since its founding in 1966, we have contributed over $13.4 million to fund 1,046 grants and four endowments for fellowships, lectures, research training, and staff innovation awards.   

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