Richmond’s Craft + Design show returns after shutdown

Sarah Djarnie-Brown poses with her handmade dolls at the Craft + Design show. Photo by Ryan Dutcher

Bailee Padgett, Contributing Writer

Members of Richmond’s community walked through Main Street Station while indulging in unique art after a two-year shutdown due to COVID-19.

“We are amazed really, the work is incredible,” said Richmond local and attendee Erin Harper. “I love coming to these things because you get to see the love and passion that goes into the things these artists make.” 

The Visual Arts Center of Richmond presented its 58th annual Craft + Design show at Main Street Station from Oct. 14-16, for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

The Visual Arts Center is a nonprofit organization dedicated to celebrating and supporting the creative life of all people, according to its mission statement. A jury of five craft collectors, artists, or art overseers look at applications from artists around the country in different media categories. These artists are then chosen and invited to come and set up their shops to create a balanced and thoughtful show over the course of three days, according to executive director Stefanie Fedor.

This year, featured artists were able to visit Richmond and display their crafts and artwork for the community of art-lovers to experience. The weekend was full of activities, with a preview party on Friday night and Richmond Magazine’s Susan Hable as a speaker on Sunday, according to the Visual Arts website.

“Throughout the weekend we have a big beer garden and demonstrations from teachers,” Fedor said. “We also have the clay olympics with different ceramics that battle each other so we have plenty going on over the weekend that is geared to a wide audience.” 

The featured artist this year is Sarah Djarnie-Brown, the owner of Shop Volta, a handmade doll shop. Each of her dolls were created through salvaged resources including wood, fabric, wool and various other recycled materials, according to Visual Arts website. 

“A lot of my stuff is one of a kind, and it’s about sustainability and to be the featured artist this year and to be working with VisArts — it’s such a huge honor,” Djarnie-Brown said. “When I found out I was going to be the featured artist, I was really happy to be working with them.”

The Visual Arts staff invited her to apply for the show after showcasing her work at the Smithsonian’s Future Focus craft show earlier in April for her first craft show, according to Djarnie-Brown.

“These shows are really new to me so for someone to accept my work is amazing,” Djarnie-Brown said. “I have been doing this since about 2018 so I wasn’t sure which avenue I could showcase these dolls, so being accepted in itself was an honor to me. The Visual Arts Center has been helping people explore their creativity since 1963, and so I think being able to go to a space is incredible.”

Volunteers of the Visual Arts Center helped to organize and manage the event. Taren Woelk is a local member of the community and heard about the event after attending classes offered at the  center, Woelk said.

“I have taken a few classes at the visual arts center and I saw that they had this going on and I wanted to give back to this group because they have a lot going on,” Woelk said. “They do a lot of really cool stuff and I learn a lot there.”

After undergoing the COVID-19 shutdown and having to have an online market, the event returned in-person with over 150 artists displaying their works, according to Stefanie Fedor.

“We really have retained the best artists in the country, because they say Richmond is one of the most hospitable places,” Fedor said. “This region has a very art-buying and art-interested community that loves to engage with an audience that really knows what they are buying.”

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