AMERICAN CRAFT COUNCIL
Craft in America Premieres “Borders” and “Neighbors”
By Robert O’Connell
Thursday, September 28, 2017
“There are no borders when it comes to culture, when it comes to community,” says Césareo Moreno, the chief curator of Chicago’s National Museum of Mexican Art, in “Borders,” a new episode of PBS’s Peabody Award-winning series Craft in America. “Using artwork is the best way of taking away las fronteras.”
“Borders” airs on Friday, September 29, as does “Neighbors,” another new episode, which follows immediately after (check local PBS listings for times). Both installments reflect the wisdom of Moreno’s words, documenting the exchange of artistic ideas and traditions between the United States and Mexico. Craft in America is now in its 10th year, but this marks the first time it will extend its scope south of the US border.
The makers featured in the episodes reveal the remarkable and mutual benefits of the cultural exchange between the countries. In “Borders,” the work of J. Isaac Vasquez Garcia, a master weaver and dyer from Oaxaca, Mexico, is set next to that of Jim Bassler, an American weaver who lived in Oaxaca for years and whose work owes a debt to the area’s traditional practices. “Neighbors” features ceramist Gerardo Monterrubio (look for him in the October/November issue of American Craft), whose work draws on his Mexican childhood and contemporary graffiti and prison art, and Judy Baca, whose “Great Wall of Los Angeles” carries the traditions of Mexican muralists into the United States. Other featured artists include master altar maker Ofelia Esparza, Chicago jeweler and ACC Fellow Kiff Slemmons, and glass maestro Jaime Guerrero.
The two new episodes deliver the stunning visuals and in-depth interviews viewers have come to expect from Craft in America. They also lay out the necessity of multicultural inspiration. These makers demonstrate that art grows best when it’s shared – among individuals, communities, and nations. “These episodes contain a message about international relations and influence in the crafts,” producer-director and ACC trustee Carol Sauvion says. “Art has no borders.”