Women have used making arts and crafts as a way to stimulate their minds through creativity as a way to maintain a sense of agency. In Miriam Toews’s Summer of My Amazing Luck the women at Half-A-Life Housing would make crafts like friendship bracelets, piñatas, and even sex toys. They would make things to sell, but also to prove their unique worth, whether it be to themselves or to a capitalist society that links a person’s worth to their bank account.
When writer Alice Walker writes about women’s creativity in ‘In Search of Our Mother’s Gardens’ she speaks of another layer to the working-class struggle that is affecting women of colour. Walker writes about black women living in a white supremacist world. Walker looks at her great-great grandmother’s generation. She says that in their lifetime it was a punishable crime for black people to read or write, making it so the creativity of her elders was pushed down by white supremacy and the demands of their white overseers. “They were Creators, who lived lives of spiritual waste,” Walker writes, “Because they were so rich in spirituality – which is the basis of Art – that the strain of enduring their unused and unwanted talent drove them insane.” She continues to write about poets, novelists, and essayists that were unable to share their talents or express themselves because they were black women. Black women like Philis Wheately, who Walker says that id she were white she, “Would have been easily considered the intellectual superior of all the women and most of the men in the society of her day.” Walker is saying that though the mothers she writes about are oppressed, they are using their skills, like the examples of making blankets and flower art, as a form of empowerment.
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