Lisa Woolfork (she/her) is a sewist, podcaster, community organizer and scholar. She is the founder of Black Women Stitch, the sewing group where Black Lives Matter. She is also the host/producer of Stitch Please, a weekly audio podcast that centers Black women, girls, and femmes in sewing. In the summer of 2017, she became a founding member of Black Lives Matter Charlottesville. This group protested against the white supremacist insurgency that had taken hold of the Virginia city. She organized in a variety of ways including nonviolent direct action, working with a bail fund for activists, sewing for a creative arts team, and co-founding a media collective.
A fourth-generation sewing enthusiast, she has spoken about the connections between Black liberation and craft for the Smithsonian’s African American Craft Summit, the Modern Quilt Guild, the Center for Craft, Architectural Digest and more. Her work interrogates boundaries between art and craft, social justice and liberation. Practicing the unlikely but not unprecedented mix of needle arts and Black liberation, Woolfork’s sewing and quilting practice operates alongside her scholarly inquiry in the fields of Black literary and cultural studies.
As a creative arts practitioner, Woolfork is interested in the structural elements of stitching as a form meaning making and archiving the ephemera of Black aliveness (a la Kevin Quashie). Forecrafting is a new theory that she is currently working through. Inspired by and thinking alongside scholar-artists of radical possibility such as adrienne maree brown, Ashon Crawley, and Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Woolfork’s concept of “forecrafting” holds in tandem the simultaneity of the imminent future and the urgency of the now. Forecrafting is the process by which ancestral Black women needle/textile/fiber workers used their skills to create structures that would preserve (a measure) of freedom for their children and descendants, while serving as an archive of their own unfree experience. Forecrafting is a path towards liberation, a gesture executed in the meantime between now and eternity. Forecrafting is that which is created in crisis but also in faith that the future is broader and more open than the present or past.
During her fellowship in April 2022, Lisa will facilitate Sally Hemings University Connecting Threads (SHUCT),“… a holistic course of study that continually asks questions about how modes of thought unfurl themselves to connect, build, and sever how we make meaning around education, art, learning, and liberation.”