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‘CraftBoston: Pins + Needles’ brings art, fashion online

Celina Colby
Celina Colby is an arts and travel reporter with a fondness for Russian novels.... VIEW BIO
‘CraftBoston: Pins + Needles’ brings art, fashion online
Tamara Belinda, Parasols, Crown Inspired Collection COURTESY PHOTO

More than 70 artists are reimagining classic accessories in the “CraftBoston: Pins + Needles” exhibition running online March 4–April 17.

Juried by award-winning textile artist Queen Allotey-Pappoe, the show turns an artistic eye to everyday fashion items like pins, scarves, broaches and other sartorial accent points.

Paulina Fuenzalida-Guzman, “Black Flower” brooch PHOTO: PAULINA FUENZALIDA-GUZMAN,

“We are coming out of an interesting era, with over two years of everyone trying to find and situate themselves amid upheaval and a new, more online existence,” says Allotey-Pappoe. “The focus of this exhibition — wearable art — is inherently intimate and personal, and my real challenge was to highlight how we can translate this intimacy into the digital world.”

Born in Ghana, Allotey-Pappoe now runs her sustainable fashion brand Queen Adeline from Lowell. Here she’s reflecting on how fashion translates into the small, rectangular screen of a Zoom meeting. What has been used in workplace settings for decades for professional signaling and connectivity is now nearly void in the blue light of a computer screen.

Steve Alexis, “Mica Studs” earrings COURTESY PHOTO

Artist Tamara Belinda, an American of African descent, is showcasing her Crown Collection, a series of jackets, parasols, face masks and hoods in vibrant colors and patterns. The wrap hoods include a satin-lined hood designed to comfortably fit over and preserve Black hairstyles, paired with a fleece scarf element for winter warmth. The scarf piece also drapes over the face, serving as a face mask.

“Each design expresses the commitment to protect the crown in aspects of the physical, mental or spiritual; to complement the growth of the mind, share uncommon information and inspire fresh perspectives using knowledge from various sources,” says Belinda in an artist’s statement.

Steve Alexis, artist and MFA candidate at Carnegie Mellon University, crafts earrings and other accessories out of stone, metal and thermoplastic. His abstract works are eye-catching and emotionally charged. The stone series showcases sparkling stones like silver sheen and black obsidian inside colorful thermoplastic casings. Here, a dynamic between internal and external pressures is explored both in terms of materials and in the wearer and artist’s experiences.

Devyn Vasquez, “Gemma Earrings” PHOTO: BRADY CONNELLY

In “CraftBoston: Pins + Needles,” fashion and art converge to rediscover a sense of identity through artistry and style in a world where our runway is often the length of our living rooms.

Allotey-Pappoe says, “By now we are so familiar with seeing ourselves on a computer screen, and these artworks can help us ‘show up’ for ourselves by adding joy and vibrancy back to our basic workwear.”