ROLODEX. Craft a Conversation


ROLODEX. Craft a Conversation is a growing index of self-identified Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) working in craft today. Initiated by Warren Wilson College’s MA in Critical Craft Studies during April 2021 in response to a nearly 70% increase in violence against AAPI communities, this project is centered on people, their descriptions of themselves, and their connections to craft - rather than on the objects they create.

Why focus on Asian American and Pacific Islanders working through craft? According to the Pew Research Center, Asian Americans are one of the fastest growing groups in the US since 2000. Despite nearly 23 million Asian Americans in the US population, a recent study by Leading Asian Americans to Unite for Change (LAAUNCH) found that 58% of people could not name a prominent Asian American.

The term “Asian American and Pacific Islander” is in question today. Drawing inspiration from the Black Power Movement, students at the University of California, Berkeley are credited with unifying pan-Asian groups under the term “Asian American” in the 1960s. This grouping deliberately rejected the outdated, geographically-based, and problematic term “Oriental.” In the 1980s, the U.S. Census expanded the category, combining Asian American and Pacific Islanders. Today, this governmentally-determined grouping feels too broad to many, as it includes more than 20 countries and thousands of Pacific Islands, each with unique histories, cultures, languages, and craft histories.

This project is a directory, an exhibition, and a tool:

How does research catalyze community, action, and visibility?

What conversations come next?

Two hundred people responded to the initial call and ROLODEX will continue to gather listings from the AAPI community until August 31, 2021. People built and continue to build this directory. Connecting is up to you. Access, use, and add to the directory by following this link: The project is online indefinitely and on view at the Center for Craft from June 4th to August 20th, 2021.

(Donations Accepted)
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