The Academy of Arts and Humanities (AHA) at Berkeley High School (BHS) hosted a craft fair over lunch on December 9-10. The craft fair replaces the AHA’s annual art exhibition at the Kala Art Institute, which was halted due to the pandemic.
AHA visual arts teacher Miriam Stahl helped oversee the set-up of the craft fair, which was held just outside of her classroom. Her own booth sold merchandise donated by art students, as well as her own merchandise, including earrings, t-shirts, tote bags, and the AHA’s annual calendar.
Proceeds from Stahl’s booth went to the AHA scholarship fund, which “gives[s] three or four scholarships for graduates [who] are first generation [immigrants]. “Stahl was making about four hundred dollars.
Stahl offered all of his students the opportunity to sell their own handicrafts for their own profit. “What I liked the most was… seeing students selling their own work,” Stahl said. “I think it was really satisfying to show the students that they could earn money through their work,… through their art or their profession. “
Students sold handmade stickers, earrings (including those made with teeth), gloves, and self-care products. Lots of clothes were for sale: screen-printed t-shirts designed by students, and scraps that were sold in bins and racks at the center of the fair.
“I was really motivated to… [have] recognized my art and made money, ”said Celeste Campos, a senior at AHA. She sold herbal ointments and lotions to help relieve various health problems.
“During the pandemic, I became very interested in healing, which maybe easy to do, but a lot of people don’t know, who can… fix common illnesses they have.” Campos started making herbal remedies for his own use, learning craft techniques from various mentors, but turned them into a business after realizing how useful they could be to the community. She also sold hand-carved 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 rent the herbs. … I tend to pray and send positive intentions [towards my salves],” she said.
Maddie Philhower, an AHA junior, made earrings for sale at the craft fair. “I really like doing things in clay. … I actually sold, which was really exciting, ”she said. “There were so many people selling things, and so many people came too. Philhower found it enjoyable to interact with a variety of students, support other people, and meet those she might not otherwise have met.
“I thought it was really beautiful to see how many people passed by,” echoed Campos. “I am really impressed with the entrepreneurial spirit [spirit] from my classmates,… stuff you wouldn’t see and think a teenager does. It was a very good demonstration of the capabilities of our class and of our potential.
“At AHA, we are really encouraged to express what we really feel and to live up to our true potential. Our teachers and mentors support and uplift us, ”Campos said. “I am 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 everywhere,… students excited to do something fun for lunch. “