Waterfall Arts announces exhibition and workshops in October 2022, “Radical Acts” with craftivist Shannon Downey (aka Badass Cross Stitch)

(Belfast, ME) “Badass Cross Stitch” was created by Boston-born artist Shannon Downey, a fiber artist, activist, feminist, and self-described craftivist. Shannon was a middle-school teacher, a domestic violence/sexual assault advocate, event producer, and a college professor before deciding to sell all of her belongings and hit the road in a 26-foot RV two years ago. After mapping out hundreds of events, Covid hit and that map disappeared in an instant. But Shannon is nothing if not resourceful, so she learned how to do her work virtually and set out for the open road anyway. 

She has since been teaching workshops, doing remote speaking engagements, hosting online gatherings for makers and artists, and engaging in craftivist projects with other art activists—staying in driveways, parking lots, and campgrounds—stitching and gathering community as she goes. After a recent tragedy derailed her travels (she was hit by an impaired driver and her RV was totaled), Shannon is temporarily living back in her hometown of Boston, which has opened the possibility of her sharing her work at Waterfall Arts.

Describing her craftivism work as building around action and outcomes, Shannon will exhibit a three-part show at Waterfall Arts titled “Radical Acts,” which will include a selection of her own hand-stitched pieces from her vintage collection, “Rita’s Quilt”—a 102” x 75” quilt created by more than 130 artists from across the country. The quilt project was completed in tribute to all of the women artists throughout history whose work has been undervalued and underappreciated. Similarly, Shannon’s ongoing “Badass Herstory” installation is a global craftivism project centering the stories of people of marginalized genders. 

As she so eloquently says, “It is a radical act . . . to spend time exploring your story and voice, to center yourself in your own narrative, to come together in community to discuss hard things, to make time to create art about yourself, to participate in something greater than oneself . . . to learn something new.” Shannon will be on site at Waterfall from October 21-23, 2022 with a free Friday evening artist talk and three different embroidery workshops, open to beginners and experienced stitchers alike, on Saturday and Sunday. Sunday’s workshop will specifically support those folks who want to develop submissions to the  “Badass Herstory” project. Shannon is on a quest to teach 1 million people to embroider and invites us to rethink how we categorize and value craft and art.

Waterfall Arts Program Director Amy Tingle says, “I have loved Shannon’s work from the very first moment I read about her. I had started working with a needle and thread several years prior. It was something my grandmother had taught me but which I had dismissed as ‘not an art.’ Shannon’s passion and determination to show others how joyful it is to use a medium that has historically been used as a tool of subjugation and subversion has changed me and changed my own relationship to embroidery. I am thrilled we could invite her here to Belfast.”

Shannon Downey aka Badass Cross Stitch is an artist, activist, craftivist, community builder, and general instigator. She blends her politics, activism, and art into projects that are designed to inspire others to take action, think, discuss, engage with democracy and their community, and find some digital/analog balance. She uses art as a vehicle for positive change through creative interventions whether that be through open-source street art campaigns or global craftivism projects. She teaches at Columbia College and DePaul University and is founder of Seriously Badass Women. Her life motto is: “Make Art. Smash Systems.”

For more information about the artist:

Launched in 2000, Waterfall Arts is a community arts center that offers resources to arts enthusiasts of all ages and abilities. We welcome the public to engage in the arts through classes, exhibitions, art events, performances, public art projects, open studios (in clay, glass, print, and darkroom photography), residencies, and more. For more information, visit or call 207-338-2222.


Photo: Artist Shannon Downey (aka Badass Cross Stitch) who will be exhibiting her work at Waterfall Arts in October, and teaching a series of embroidery workshops October 21-23, 2022.

Photo: “housing is a human right” artwork by Shannon Downey (aka Badass Cross Stitch), who will be exhibiting her work and teaching embroidery workshops at Waterfall Arts in October 2022.