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For many of our students, involvement with Student Craft is their first time formally exploring art, craft, and design—an example of the unique opportunities that are part of the Berea College experience.
Through these explorations and many others like them within Berea College’s Labor Program, we expand the learning opportunities of a liberal arts education beyond the lessons in the classroom. These experiences directly support the professional goals our students are pursuing and pave the way toward a future avocation nurturing and supporting the arts. We hope you enjoy this new format and get to know Student Craft a little more through the stories we share.

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Convergence Vases

The Convergence Vases have been designed as a partnership between visiting designer Norman Teague, visiting Craft Apprentice Jose-Alfredo Ramos-Macias ’21 and ceramics student Elsa Black ’23. This work focuses on our 5th Great Commitment to the Kinship of all People as an exploration of the beauty that occurs when we create space for a coming together from different directions. This historic collaboration is currently available as a part of Berea College’s Crafting Diversity Collection through Design Within Reach crediting Jose and Elsa alongside Norman as designers of record.

Emerson ’21

Weaving Assistant Emerson Croft 21 designed the Elements Series of baby blankets while a student at Berea College. A film about Croft and these blankets directed by Justin Skeens, Berea’s Director of Digital Storytelling, won two regional Emmy awards.

Watch his beautiful and inspiring short film about Emerson’s work.

Baby Blanket Elements

The Elements series of blankets were designed by student Emerson Croft ’21 to break free from conventionally gendered pink and blue baby blankets through creative exploration of color and concept. Available in four colors.

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Gallery Quilt

Learn about the students who designed each square!
Hover over the blue circles to reveal their stories!

Soon ’24: The Perfect Nine This quilt square was inspired by the Kikuyu myth of origin known as the Nine Daughters as told by Kenya’s Agikuyu community and passed down to Soon from her father. Soon amplifies the experience and importance of the 10th daughter named Warigia who is pushed to the margin in the original tale but without whom the lives of the stories 9 heroines are incomplete. Each of the 9 colorful squares in Soon’s quilt contain 2 black triangles which if added together equal one full square finally centering Warigia and reminding all of us of the importance of inclusion.
Shakie ’24: The Boracay Quilt Shakie’s Boracay Quilt square is representative of a dream that Shakie still carries to reach a level of financial security that would allow her to take her family on a vacation to this beautiful and idyllic Philippine Island. Growing up in poverty this sort of opportunity was always out of reach, but Shakie’s family always stressed the power of education and its ability to change a family’s economic circumstance. When times are hard Shakie pictures Boracay and the motivation provided by this dream keeps Shakie moving forward.
Ty ’23: Path to Growth Quilt Block: Ty’s Path to Growth quilt square is inspired by a quote from author J.R. Rim that states, “Sunflowers end up facing the sun, but they go through a lot of dirt to find their way there.” Ty shares: “College has challenged me on my path, but the goal has always been to navigate through those obstacles and still find the light. The combination of red and yellow in my block form as arrows coming from four different directions and still meet at the center. The sunflower’s center grows the seeds that symbolize I will continue to grow stronger; regardless of the path I take, I will always end up where I am meant to be.”
Eden ’24: This quilt square represents a swirling, whirlwind of emotions that swept over Eden during a particularly chaotic and frightening moment in her life. The orange and green represent the bright, colorful surrounding of that moment while the black portion is meant to convey the stress and frustration of that moment. The yellow is however the most important to Eden as it represents the moment she found a solution to this challenge and the feeling of confidence and accomplishment that she felt overcoming this challenge.

Intersections Rolling Pin
& Charcuterie Board

This collaborative design supported by our entire Woodcraft student crew extends the design work started by Sharon Ngassa ’21 who designed the extremely popular Intersections Cutting Board (also pictured) which celebrates the diversity inside all of us as individuals and the beauty of diversity in any healthy society.

Charcuterie Board

These charcuterie boards represent both the differences inside all of us as individuals and the need for that difference inside any healthy society.

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Ty ’23, a nursing major, trims the fringe on one of our Rainbow Baby Blankets. This blanket was the very first product released as part of our Crafting Diversity efforts in fall 2019.

Zy Garrett ’22 at work warping the loom for our Rainbow Baby Blanket. You can read more about Zy and her work below where we discuss her contributions to our new collection of decorative quilts.

Rainbow Baby Blanket

This soft 100% cotton baby blanket celebrates impartial love and the kinship of all people, one of Berea College’s eight Great Commitments.

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Nightlights Pillow

Designed by Leeroy 23’ and Dixie 25’ the concept of this pillow came from a marriage of two perspectives of what people might see at night. Leeroy’s perspective was based on an aerial view of a lit city, and Dixie was fascinated by the stars above. Together the aerial image of a lit city made by humans and the naturally occurring skyline of stars coalesced. This merger can speak to the human hunger to imitate nature, which is seen in a plethora of visual media not unlike a dance. The city’s image slowly looks like a cluster of stars with specks of color. Additionally, this merger speaks to the diversity of opinions in the world and how social context could help us break down social barriers. While these two students’ perspectives were different, they still described similar images. This glass-half-empty-glass-half-full paradox shows the importance of understanding the circumstances that have brought about different perspectives. By understanding these circumstances, we can choose how and if we want to breakdown barriers between us and the “other.”

Co-designer Leeroy Mabvuta ’23 is continuing his education post-graduation from Berea in pursuit of a career as a surgeon. Leeroy is also the designer of our hugely popular Symphiny Scarves which can be found here:

People Collection Stools

These stools extend the student design work started by students Rachel Bates ’20 and Zoe Cowley ’20 in ceramics into the woodshop.

The stools are made from ash (legs and stretchers) and Cherry for the seat. Available in 11 different colors this collection challenges us to see the beauty and value in diversity.

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Taylor ’24

Taylor ’24, an engineering technologies and applied design or ETAD and art double major, carefully hand paints a small batch of our new People Collection Stools. Designed in Woodcraft in 2022 and available for order in 11 different colors, these stools symbolize the diversity that has always made Berea so special.

Zy Garrett ’22

Zy Garrett ’22, an ETAD major, was one of 12 students who contributed designs for Student Craft’s inaugural series of quilts. Our Garden Sampler and Sunrise Sampler Quilted Tapestries are featured below. Each square in these wall hangings was designed by a student from Student Craft, and each quilt block strives to support the understanding of the College’s Great Commitments. These two quilts will be featured in Design Within Reach’s distribution of our Crafting Diversity Collection, with all 12 of our students and Erin Miller, our director of weaving, named as designers.

Garden Sampler Quilted Tapestry

Featuring 9 student designed quilt squares, each created with the intention of developing a richer understanding of the college’s Great Commitments.

Upper right-hand corner Shaylee ’23, Upper left-hand corner Sisaly ’25, Shekinah ’23 Top row middle square, Middle row, far right, Taku ’23, Middle Row, Middle square Evelyn ’22, Middle row far right, Zy ’22, Bottom left, Esther ’23, Bottom middle, Dora ’25, Bottom right, Blade ’22.

42″x 42″ This product will be added to the Crafting Diversity Collection with distribution through DWR in the Spring of 2023 with our students design work credited.

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Sunrise Sampler Quilted Tapestry

Featuring four student-designed quilt squares, each created with the intention of developing a richer understanding of Berea College’s Great Commitments.

Designed by the following students YoungSoon ’25, Paulina ’25, and Zy Garrett ’22, Holly ’23

30″x 30″

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