In the Making: Robell Awake & Dr. Tiffany Momon

February 10, 2023

“The history of these Black craftspeople is very much still with us, because the things they made are still here with us.”

On Thursday, February 9, 2023 we were thrilled to host a discussion with craftsperson and furniture maker Robell Awake and Dr. Tiffany Momon, founder of the Black Craftspeople Digital Archive.

They discussed Robell’s latest research project—as a 2022 recipient of the Craft Research Fund Artist Fellowship from the Center for Craft—as he and NBSS graduate Charlie Ryland CF ’14 aim to gather a more accurate understanding of the period furniture and green woodworking contributions of Black and Indigenous makers throughout history.

The conversation also touched on many important issues in the field of researching Black craftspeople as a whole, including how objects are displayed in museums, how their stories are humanized and expanded, and the emotional toll of doing this research.

Black Craftspeople Digital Archive seeks to enhance what we know about black craftspeople by telling both a spatial story and a historically informed story that highlights the lives of black craftspeople and the objects they produced.

After years in the trades led to a specific interest in design and craft, Robell apprenticed with a local furniture maker and took an introductory fine woodworking class through the NBSS Community Education program. Through his practice, Robell is focused on bridging woodworking’s opportunity gap, and more importantly, redefining the limited and Eurocentric scope of “period” and “fine” furniture. Through countless hours in the shop and on job sites, he continues to cultivate his craft.

“In the Making” is a public programs series where we connect with a range of new voices, fields, and perspectives. Learn more and view a full list of events on the series homepage.

With thanks to our underwriters

Massachusetts Cultural Council
Adams + Beasley Associates
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts
Eaton Vance

Columbia Contracting Corp.

First Republic Bank
F.H. Perry Builder
Firestone & Parson Inc.
Inland Underwriters Insurance Agency
Muecke, Inc.
Sequoia Custom Builders, Inc.