the earring show: contemporary craft + contemporary spaces + the future

the earring show: contemporary craft + contemporary spaces + the future

The Earring Show provides a unique space for artists and the general public to engage with contemporary craft through the medium of earrings. It also illuminates the timeless and important connection between craft and culture, and how they influence each other. For millennia, we have expressed ourselves through tactile forms such as craft and art – and it is a privilege to continue to be able to do so. As you and I participate in this sector, we are reinforcing an existing value system in our community that can transcend a monterey value (i.e. a changed mind or perspective). We see that contemporary craft is used to engage, equip, empower, challenge or build up, and that anyone can participate in this sector, either as makers, viewers, or both. These spaces, then, play a vital role in the health of our society.

The Earring Show, as a contemporary craft exhibition, serves to inspire, provoke and empower. One purpose of these exhibitions is to promote expression and identity, while also bringing us into thoughtful discussions on the concepts being presented through the work. In this show, we saw that the earrings were never neutral; they spoke to culture, to values, and/or to contemporary craftsmanship. Ultimately, they are not neutral because we as individuals are not neutral. We all have histories, belongings, cultural identities, values, belief systems – the beingness of the artists is illuminated through their work. This is one way we can understand the connection between craft + culture. Culture is expressed through people working through craft (or art, social norms, dress code, policies, etc.). Herein lies a fundamental value of contemporary craft exhibitions – to view the world through the lens of another. It can be revelatory to see present day society through the lens of someone else, even through the lens of how or why someone made earrings.  

The Earring Show is also an important marker of who the Craft Council of BC (CCBC) is, by fulfilling two of our central mission statements: empower craftspeople and elevate the profile of contemporary craft in BC. We believe that this sector promotes expression and creativity, provokes important discussion on culture, is an important tool for learning, teaching and communicating, creates pathways for connection, and serves to inspire future generations. We also note that The Earring Show takes place on Granville Island, a unique part of Vancouver that consistently strives to highlight the creative side of this city.

The Earring Show, as a contemporary craft exhibition, speaks to and through a number of groups. The event seeks to empower craftspeople to exhibit and sell their work, as well as connect with other makers. This year there were 122 artists from around the world, who are on different ends of the spectrum on how long they have been working with jewellery. This breadth in identity was beautifully seen throughout the carefully curated gallery space. The makers are the fuel of this industry, which act as an important heartbeat of society. It’s also noteworthy to ponder on all the craftspeople that came before – laying down foundational techniques, pioneering new methods, and building both grassroots and formal systems of learning. They too are implicitly included in this exhibition. Undoubtedly, all of the guests who visit the exhibition are an essential part of the ecosystem that keeps this sector alive. Our sustained interest, fueled in part by our own personalities, but also through opportunities to engage with contemporary craft, plays a significant role in this societal heartbeat. We also consider those who participate in sponsoring exhibitions such as this; their acts of support speak into this ecosystem. These groups of people are among today’s many contributors to the sector who are paving the way for future generations to flourish. 

Bridget Catchpole

It is important for us as a society to continue to have the option to engage with craft through exhibitions. Sometimes, craft is a reflection of what is already occurring in society, at other times, artists use craft to push for new norms. These spaces, therefore, can be important places for us to reinforce what we deem good, and/or challenge norms we don’t agree with. Despite the normalcy of craft exhibitions in Canada, these initiatives should not be taken for granted. The spaces are zones that speak to a value system held by our society, government and even our legal system. The Free Muse, an independent international non-governmental organisation advocating for freedom of artistic expression and cultural diversity, reported approximately 12,000 violations in 2021 of artistic freedom, including imprisonment, censorship, legal consequences and death. While creatives using craft  to communicate has been a part of society since time immemorial, the environment to sustain engagement with these mediums is something not to be taken for granted. We, as participants of society, partake in contributing to environments that emanate value systems (whether consciously or not). Therefore, as we engage with these spaces, we are strengthening the identity of this sector, our collective community, and even our nation: we are participating in culture making. 

The Earring Show is a reflection of a number of truths – that the expression of identity and culture through different mediums is important; that the makers of contemporary craft are invaluable to building culture; and that active participation in these ecosystems is needed. We are thrilled to facilitate such spaces now and throughout the year, and in the same breath, acknowledge that the CCBC is what it is today because and for of all the previous, current and future makers, and participants. We hope you join us next year for The Earring Show.

images in order of appearance:
From Alexandra da Fonseca – Klein’s website – 
CCBC promotional material for the Earring Show 2023
Bridget Catchpole, ‘Stages of Healing Green Earrings’ (The Earring Show 2023)
Ming-Jui Tsai, ‘New Daily Earring’ (The Earring Show 2023)
Claudine Gevry, ‘Small Pebble Starry Sky’ Earrings (The Earring Show 2023)
Ekaterina Korzh, ‘Cloud Earrings’ (The Earring Show 2023)
Tong Wu, ‘For Love and Peace’ earrings, made with the colors of the Ukrainian flag (The Earring Show 2023)