Smithsonian Craft Optimism Craft Show starts this weekend


WASHINGTON (WDVM) — The Smithsonian Optimism Craft Show will run from April 24 through May 1. It is a brand new craft show that has a focus on eco-friendly artists.

As the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic keeps large-scale, in-person events at bay, the Smithsonian Women’s Committee started the Smithsonian Craft Optimism craft show.

Twig Murray, the co-chair with Smithsonian Craft Optimism, said, “It was really an opportunity to address climate change and support crafts and make money to support the Smithsonian all at once.”

The show and market highlight artists who create things in a sustainable way and bring in artists who might have never been part of a Smithsonian Craft Show.

Murray said, “We have a lot of people from parts of the country that would never have been a candidate or who would have never wanted to come to the Smithsonian Craft Show.”

While artists are from across the country, there are many from right in the DMV.

Jessica Beels, Featured Artist said, “I make small sculptures using recycled materials.”

Another featured artist, Jenae Michelle said, “What I make primarily is one-of-a-kind handbags. I make them from, almost entirely vintage materials.”

Everything from sculptures, clothing, jewelry and wall decor, and it is all made in the most sustainable way possible.

Lisa Thompson another featured artist said, “Our apparel is all made in the US, so we’re not shipping all over the world, reducing our carbon footprint. And our apparel is all printed with water-based inks which is better for the environment.”

Beels added, “That message incorporated into the show itself is huge for me because it’s putting the larger worldview out front.”

Being online, it brings the opportunity to reach more people than ever before.

Jamie Thompson, another featured artist who works with Lisa Thompson, said, “I think that people find value in it and find value in spending a little more in something that’s more sustainable and made in the US, and especially for their babies, made with non-toxic ink.”

Michelle added, “Someone sees our work, likes it, receives a piece of work and it becomes a valuable part of their life, that’s a customer we’ve gained who will probably come back.”

By the fall, the Smithsonian hopes to hold the annual craft show in person again.

While featured artists will keep most of their sales, a percentage will go to the Smithsonian Women’s Committee for future grant programs.

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