By Anna Gaw
Tables covered with colorful and elaborate artwork fit together like puzzle pieces in the Worner Center lobby. College kids, older retired couples, and even parents pushing babies in strollers mill about, admiring each individual piece of craftsmanship. The Colorado College Annual Arts and Crafts Sale features a variety of local artists as well as CC students, with items on display including jewelry made from shed antlers, pinecone-embedded soap, wooden bee houses, paintings, clothing, pottery, knitted hats, greeting cards, and even hammocks made from recycled plastic bottles.
The annual sale has been going on for over 40 years, according to CC Arts and Crafts Director Jeanne Steiner, who has been here for 36. For Steiner, who organizes the sale, the planning is at its height in the fall but is a “year-round process.” Outside artists must go through an application process to join, where images of their work are juried by CC Arts and Crafts staff and student teachers. The jury receives applications from more artists than they can accommodate, so they try to select a variety of mediums.
CC student artists, on the other hand, don’t have to go through the application process and don’t have to pay an upfront table fee like the outside artists. So, as Steiner says, “the stakes are low for learning,” and students can see how professionals fit art into their lives, learn the difficulties and benefits of craft fairs, and try selling their crafts with a low risk.
The student entry forms are due by Nov. 1, later than the regular artist applications — something that proved challenging this year, as there were 35 interested students, significantly more than any other year. This, however, is probably a good thing because, according to Steiner, the student participation is what makes the sale particularly successful.
This was my first year running my own table at the fair, along with two of my crafty friends. Over the duration of the Friday through Sunday event, I got the chance to speak with a couple of other CC students who were also selling their work here for the first time.
Su Lynn Eu ’21, an environmental science and dance major, took one block break felting class, but primarily creates her work on her own, rather than in an adjunct or by using the CC art studio. She is “interested in a system or series of knots,” which can be seen in her macramé handbags and loom knitted hats. Eu enjoyed her time at the show and said that it felt like “a performance and an experiment at the same time.”
Although it was a bit intimidating to be featured around professional local artists, she said selling her work at the Arts and Crafts sale is a “challenge she would take up again.”
Sophie Cardin ’22, a political science major, “had no clue what to expect” over the weekend. She found it fun and busy and spoke with many people. Cardin noticed how much the shoppers cared about buying student work. Her work consisted of a variety of ceramics that she makes entirely during her open studio time in the CC ceramics studio. She said she uses “ceramics as a meditation to get away from her other work.”
She is grateful for the Arts and Crafts program at CC, for the community and the escape from other responsibilities it offers, and has hopes for it to expand in the future due to the high demand. Cardin, who has looked around the fair during both of her years at CC so far, remarked that “the CC student art is amazing.”
“It’s cool that very few [students at the show] are art majors,” she said. “They are just doing it because they love it.”
Steiner also sees how the CC Arts and Crafts program brings together a diverse community of artists. She highlights the importance of a community “based around a focused activity” and, like Cardin, sees how creating things can be a relief from more stressful parts of life.
Steiner hopes that through the Arts and Crafts program, CC students will “form a habit here that will carry through their lives.”