The catalyst for change

On December 20, 2017, in Latest News, by The Somerville Times

“Catalyst: craft + social change” now showing at the Nave Gallery.

By  Ahmed Sorour

“Change begins at home,” or so the saying goes. At a time where American institutions are coming under assault, generations are splitting apart, and fault lines in politics are appearing, what better way to exemplify “change” than with an exhibit celebrating community and social change through domestic art?

“Catalyst: craft + social change” is the brainchild of curator Vanessa Marcoux, an exhibit that not only celebrates the domestic arts, but aims to remind its audience of the power behind the often overlooked craft. Gathering 12 artists from across the U.S. and employing an assortment of artistic styles, the show speaks to social issues such as healthcare, immigration, climate change, homelessness, incarceration and domestic violence.

The works on display are not merely statements, but aim to affect the world around them.

“I’ve been so inspired by the many projects that I’ve seen that have addressed social causes,” Marcoux says, “from the store windows at Gather Here in Cambridge to the banners and handknit hats at the Women’s March. I wanted to bring together examples of that kind of work and look at the many different things that people were making, both public and personal.”

“What Do You Want Me To Say?” by Jenna DeLuca.

One such example is “re[fuge]” by Karen Krolak and Nicole Harris. Done in collaboration with the Welcome Blanket project, Love Letters from Boston, and the Sanctuary Print Shop, the work extends local activism through textiles.

“There are activism art projects popping up all across the United States. While each is making a big splash in their local communities, it’s hard to have the resources to expand beyond that,” reads the description, “[Karen] and Nicole quickly realized that by using the Sanctuary Printshop’s design on a Welcome Blanket that was not just donated but included in art exhibits in Boston, they could drastically increase awareness of both projects.”

Another work on display is Alexandra Zevin’s sequin adorned “Liberty Knows No Borders.”

“This artwork is a group effort by People’s Puppets of Occupy Wall Street,” Zevin says. “We make signs, banners and other objects to help front line communities to amplify their voice.” Commenting on the multilingual messages atop the depiction of Lady Liberty, she notes, “The three Liberty banners express solidarity with immigrants. The banners place value on political, social, religious, economic, and personal freedom.”

Asked if she feels her work has had any social impact, she responds, “The banners have been used in many rallies and marches in support of immigrant rights and the rights of Arab, Muslim, African, and Spanish speaking communities in New York City. Strong visuals help get marches on TV and in the newspapers, so that rally organizers can get their message out. It is not enough for New York to just say it is a sanctuary city. We need to break down systemic racism and prejudice in New York City and beyond.”

“Catalyst: craft + social change” is showing Saturdays and Sundays from 1:00 – 5:00 p.m. through December 30 at the Nave Gallery. For further information or details, go to


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