“My gut is telling me to find a pathway forward for young people in the craft.”
–Alison Croney Moses, Artist and Educator, Boston
Alison Croney Moses grew up in a family of makers. Her parents are from Guyana, and she was raised in North Carolina. She was drawn to both art and science in high school, and enrolled at the Rhode Island School of Design after graduation, majoring in graphic design. She thought it’d be a skill she could use to find a creative job. “I knew halfway through the academic year that I was bad at it—crying at most critiques bad at it,” Alison says.
She knew a few people in the furniture department, and they seemed to be having a much better time, so Alison switched majors and learned woodworking. Her senior thesis included working with teenagers at a local high school to make furniture for elementary school children. Making art and helping others, especially introducing crafts to children, has been at the core of her work ever since.
Today, in addition to being a practicing artist, Alison is the associate director at the Eliot School of Fine & Applied Arts in Boston. She’s been with the organization for nearly a decade, helping to build a program that included more than 2500 kindergarten through high school students per year pre-pandemic (in-person instruction is just ramping up again). The program serves mostly young people—mostly Black and Brown young people—and low-income communities. Training in the manual arts is core to the Eliot School’s mission, and reaching children at the right age seems to be one key to success.
“I had an opportunity to go into my son’s kindergarten class last year. He was five. We did woodworking with them, and they were stoked. This is where all that society crap has not impacted those kids yet,” Alison says. At the Eliot School, there’s also a renewed focus on opportunities for job training. “We are stepping into what we’re calling a career pathway in carpentry and craft, which The Taunton Press has sponsored, and it’s really exciting,” she says. Ultimately the goal is to help teens and young adults become well-rounded, knowing that some will go on to pursue careers in crafts and trades, while some will find other callings.
Manual skills also have value beyond job training. Providing spaces where young people have opportunities to make with their hands, says Alison, gives them a way to process their experiences.
—Andrew Zoellner, executive director, Keep Craft Alive
Photo: Jesika Theos, courtesy of Alison Croney Moses