Berkeley High School’s (BHS) Arts and Humanities Academy (AHA) held a craft fair during lunch on December 9 and 10. The craft fair is serving as a replacement for AHA’s annual art exhibition at Kala Art Institute, put on halt due to the pandemic.
AHA visual arts teacher Miriam Stahl helped oversee the set-up of the craft fair, which was held right outside her classroom. Her own booth sold donated products made by the art students, as well as merchandise of her own, including earrings, t-shirts, tote bags, and AHA’s annual calendar.
The profits from Stahl’s booth went to the AHA scholarship fund, which “give[s] out three or four scholarships to graduating seniors [who] are first-generation [immigrants].” Stahl made around four hundred dollars.
Stahl offered all her students the opportunity to sell their own handcrafted merchandise for their own profit. “What I liked the most was … seeing students selling their own work,” said Stahl. “I think it was really satisfying, to have students see that they could make money off their labor, … off their art or their craft.”
Students sold handmade stickers, earrings (including those crafted of teeth), gloves, and self-care products. Many clothes were for sale: screen-printed t-shirts designed by students, and cast-offs that were sold in bargain bins and clothes racks in the center of the fair.
“I was really motivated to … [have] my art recognized and make some money,” said Celeste Campos, a senior in AHA. She sold herbal ointments and lotions to help alleviate different health conditions.
“Over the pandemic, I got very interested in ways of healing, that maybe are easy to make, but a lot of people don’t know about, that can … fix common ailments that they have.” Campos started making herbal remedies for her own use, learning crafting techniques from various mentors of hers, but turned them into a business after realizing how useful they could be to the community. She also sold hand-sculpted jewelry.
Campos practices Santeria, an Afro-Caribbean religion. Santeria emphasizes cultivating a positive relationship with its deities, orisha. “One of the ideals [of Santeria] is to give praise to the herbs. … I tend to pray and send positive intentions [towards my salves],” she said.
Maddie Philhower, a junior in AHA, made earrings to sell at the craft fair. “I really like making clay stuff. … I actually sold out, which was really exciting,” she said. “There were so many people selling things, and so many people came as well.” Philhower found it nice to interact with a variety of students, support other people, and meet those she might not have otherwise.
“I thought it was really beautiful to see how many people came through,” echoed Campos. “I’m really impressed with the entrepreneurial [spirit] of my classmates, … stuff you wouldn’t see and think a teenager made. It was a really good display of the capabilities of our class and our potential.”
“In AHA, we are really encouraged to express what we’re truly feeling and live up to our true potential. Our teachers and mentors support and uplift us,” said Campos. “I’m really happy to have an opportunity where I [can] learn and grow.”
“[The craft fair] is the first of what I think will become a tradition,” said Stahl. “I saw smiles all around, … of students thrilled to be doing something fun at lunch.”