Jordan Carey is a Bermudian designer and artist currently based in Portland Maine. He received his BFA in Textile and Fashion Design from Maine College of Art in 2019. He continues to work in the field as assistant designer for the Maine based fashion house Jill McGowan, through residencies, freelance work and launched the Loquat brand as a vehicle for sharing fluid cultural aesthetics and craft sensibilities.

What Maine Craft Means to Me

by Jordan Carey

Craft is special because it is made to live. When we drink or wear, make or admire, it speaks. It speaks of the earth when we fire our kilns, speaks of Uigher women when we buy their stolen labor, and speaks of ourselves when we adorn craft. For the maker and collector, there is a moment where the opportunity to become more mindfully connected to space arises. It is a chance to be uncomfortable and require something deeper. Craft is a call to action.

Maine has been my home for six years now, but I am originally from Bermuda, where I lived until I was 15. There are many differences between Maine and Bermuda, but what has always struck me as similar is the mystique of vacationland. This is an increasingly obsolete descriptor. Each of these places could also be described as having their backbone in industry. The landscape is changing, but the ripples from our roots in tourism are undeniable. For me, it conjures up Jamaica Kincaid’s book A Small Place. In it, Kincaid intimately illustrates a dimension of Caribbean life that lives beyond one’s vacation. Her book attempts to reveal the connection between a colonial past, a tourist-based economy, and the price paid by locals. As a college sophomore at MECA , five police officers surrounded me and a friend with guns out for standing in a parking lot after sundown. I could not help but feel like we were the cost of bliss.

When I graduated from MECA in 2019, I almost left Maine. The reason I stayed is because of the culture that surrounds craft and the arts here. There is a rich layer of people looking deeper who have become my mentors, friends, and clients. Now I have a small fashion business named Loquat that I operate with my partner, Madison Poitrast-Upton. Our mission is to empower marginalized people and causes through fashion and design.

It is important to us that we take advantage of craft’s unique capacity to raise people up through daily actions and interactions. As I am writing this, we are preparing to release our Bought Brown capsule. It features a collection of drawn portraits that we scanned and splayed over a fabric to look like polka dots. They were all public figures who have passed away with the exception of one, my great grandmother, Ita. They were writers, mothers, musicians, politicians, priests, and skeptics. The list could go on, but the part that is important is that their work is the inheritance we all benefit from. Keeping the presence and lessons of these, and other, teachers and helpers accessible can be very helpful. Wearing or carrying them is a reminder that I am literally wrapped in their presence and influence both physically and spiritually. This is the kind of attention that I want to promote within myself and the craft field.

I am not sure whether this vision for craft and our relationship with it will ever be possible on a grand scale. I like to think that through our physical practices as creatives we are successfully encouraging people to turn inward to find a slightly more authentic self every day.

Watch Now: Roots & Culture

Roots & Culture is a video series dedicated to investigating the origins and traditions that influence Loquat’s work. The series premieres with segments on the history of food, with contributions from Myron M. Beasley, Micheal Twitty, Jessica B. Harris and others.

Maine Crafts Association is proud to support this video series through our Maine Craft Content Project (stay tuned for more Maine Craft Content coming soon!) with generous funding from the Onion Foundation.

Video by Hadiya Flowers

Shop Loquat!

Find the Loquat brand bags and masks in SHOP Maine Craft: The Maine Crafts Association Online Gallery or visit LoquatShop.com to see their full line!

What Maine Craft Means to Me Essay Series invites you to explore the many intersections and layers of craft, people and time in Maine through the words of those with deep connections to our state and our field.

The Maine Crafts Association is a 501(c)(3) non-profit arts organization supporting craft artists by providing educational, marketing and retail opportunities. Our ability to accomplish our mission and help artists thrive is reliant on individual contributions.

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