Craft Arts Education

Warren Wilson to Expand Its Craft Programming Thanks to Large Grant

By Emma Castleberry

Warren Wilson College has received a grant of $948,750 from the Windgate Foundation to strengthen its craft programming. “This expansion will allow for more understanding of how craft is embedded in so many aspects of curriculum and applied learning across campus,” says Namita Gupta Wiggers, director of the Master of Arts in Critical Craft Studies. “It will also allow us to think about ways to connect our undergraduate and graduate programs more intentionally. Most of all, it recognizes that we’ve been teaching craft and working in a certain way for years, and now it gives us a chance to embed it into the school more specifically so that we can become a national leader in liberal arts craft education.”

Warren Wilson crafts grant

Student Oliver Morgan making tongs

Jay Haynes will be a junior this fall in the college’s undergraduate program. They intend to be a Craft and Material Studies major and they also work on the Fiber Arts Crew. “I believe that the expansion of craft programming at Warren Wilson will provide more opportunities for students to understand the intersection between their own identities and our place in social, political and environmental history,” Jay says.

Maru López, a contemporary jeweler and museum educator currently in her second year of the Masters in Critical Craft Studies program, says she hopes the grant will help the program strengthen its ties with nearby communities and invite more people to be part of the field of craft. “The program has a very interdisciplinary curriculum through which we are learning to look at the interconnections between crafted objects and the wider narratives and stories of which they are a part,” she says. “This allows for a wide variety of approaches and gives space for students to bring a multiplicity of voices to the field.”

The grant will substantially increase the number of undergraduate students taking craft-related courses each semester, provide more scholarships for art and craft students over the course of three years, and enable Warren Wilson to support craft instruction, do facility enhancements, procure new equipment and host visiting artists. “What is unique about Warren Wilson College is we can show students not only how to make their craft but also teach them why it’s important so they can carry that thinking out further,” says Wiggers. “We offer hands-on and applied learning combined with the really amazing opportunities that can happen at a liberal arts college, like connecting craft with anthropology, biology or land management, in addition to the art department. We can give a more broad and holistic educational perspective and experience of what craft is.”

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