The Untamed World of Indie Art and Craft in Missouri

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“So we’re making an apron,” said Jessi Cerutti, “which is a traditional idea, a woman’s garment to wear while doing things in the house. But we’re going to use funky fabric with skulls on it.”

The skull apron, Jessi told us, has become an emblem of a movement that is rippling through the nation. This movement plays with irony, cares deeply about the environment, and empowers do-it-yourself creativity. It’s so new—it started to jell after the turn of the century—that it’s still going by several different names, though “alternative” and “indie” are becoming the front-runners. Jessi is one of Missouri’s ringleaders. Since 2005, she and a team of like-minded spirits have run the Rock N Roll Craft Show in St. Louis that takes place every Thanksgiving weekend. The show is one of several events in Missouri that identify themselves with this zesty artistic spirit.

We talked with artists who organize such events and artists who participate in them, looked at art from the events, and queried statewide resources to explore the wild new world of Missouri’s “indie” art and craft.

What is “indie”?

The Rock N Roll Craft Show calls itself “St. Louis’ original alternative art, craft, and music event.” Alternative to what? Another annual St. Louis event is the Green With Indie Craft Show in early March. “Indie” is short for “independent.” Independent of what?

Both Jessi Cerutti and the organizers of Green With Indie, April Tate and Rachel Shelton, contrasted their shows with what they called “school cafeteria” and “city hall-type” fairs, even while they stressed that they valued such shows and the works sold at them. “I grew up with country crafters—my mother and grandmother—and that was such a great environment for me,” said Rachel. “But even then I noticed the demographic. Indie’s appeal is much broader, an awesome melting pot of ages and backgrounds, from young college kids all the way up.”

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Written by Barbara MacRobie from the Missouri Arts Council.

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