This last Sunday and Saturday, the Pulaski Park Fieldhouse on 1419 W. Blackhawk St. opened it's basketball courts, halls and upper walkways to artists and artistic groups from all over the midwest, creating a gathering of warmth, community, and a stalsl with nice looking handicrafts for Chicagoeans to puruse. This Renegade Craft Fair, hosted earlier on September 17 and 18, was a vibrant event where you could sample, observe, and purchase beautiful works of art, hand-crafted commerical goods, and tasty confections.
Interestingly enough, it was also an occasion where simply by asking, you could learn a lot about the art and techniques used to make the interesting items on display from their passionate and outgoing creators.
Take Ashley Lieber and her moss mosaics. She creates her art by extracting diffierent species of moss, along with bit of ground leaf cover, stones, and animal skulls from the forest floors of various woods and natural preserves throughout the midwest. Her work, in her words, is meant to encourage people to examine themselves, "pay attention to the unique aspects of nature" and to remind a humanity ensounced in cities, towns, and artifical infrastructure that they are not "outside nature, but part of nature."
A beautiful array of shadow puppets, black siloheutes of monsters, mermaids, dogs and owls, were made and sold by the Owly Shadow Puppets company. The manufacturers made their puppets by desigining the outlines with CAD software, then cutting them out of black mattboard stock using a laser etcher machine.
Here and there, amidst products made by professional Artisans, was even the opportunity to do some creative work, to make something of your own from scratch and indulge in some artistic DIY activities.
The Rebuilding Exchange, an organisation that recycles and retrieve building materials for people to use in household projects, hosted two table workshops, one where people used recycled paper and decorations to make personalized holiday greeting cards, and another where you used wood schop fragments and a hot glue gun to created art displays and ornaments. An urban mapmaking company called Cartograpfika had a suggestion nook where laypeople could submit ideas and sketches of their own maps and locations.
The Magnolia Photo Booth Company set up a free booth with props, hats, and wigs, for people who wanted to take goofy photographs: it's sign is done up in an 'old-timey' style, with victorian fonts, disembodied hands pointing at things, and firm injunctions for 'Gentleman' to 'please comb your hair and Moustache'.
Places like these, events like these, are not only markets for people looking to buy handmade commodities, but also ways for people to learn about new viewpoints, cultures, and attitudes towards art and creative expression. The artists there, many young, many driven, many with products they conceived and built themselves after having a 'great idea', are entrepeneurs trying to become more well known, more successful, trying to reach out to people to offer their ideas as a match for people's needs and interests.
As self-made people, you could say that all these artisans and crasftpeople are living examples of DIY.