Friday, May 25, 2012

Hi everyone! I haven't written in over a year due to the time constraints of my jobs and teaching, but I recently had the honor of writing a guest post on the American Association of Museum's Emerging Museum Professionals blog that was published today! It's about a particular textile pattern that I've been researching and am preparing to give a paper on at the Textile Society of America's "Textiles and Politics" conference this September in DC. You can find the post here. For more info, see the powerpoint and notes from my talk on the Apotheosis pieces at Dumbarton House from last year. Enjoy!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

I haven't posted in a long time, since working three part-time jobs has seemed to leave me little time for writing-- OR for visiting exhibits! Today I wanted to make note of one at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art that I really wish I could see! It will be closing in a couple of weeks and is on the opposite coast from me, so that's unlikely, but luckily they have a pretty good website here. It's called "Fashioning Fashion: European Dress in Detail, 1700-1915." While I'm not crazy about the title, the show itself should be interesting; it is displaying much of a large, recent acquisition and seems to be a sort of "survey" exhibit, without any specific narrative besides the evolution of European dress from the eighteenth through the early twentieth centuries. I find that fashion exhibits surrounding themes or ideas tend to be most compelling, but as long as the show is well-put-together it can be fun to just bask in a variety of fabulous pieces.

It seems as though this collection ranges from court dress to early haute couture to children's clothing, so it probably includes objects that are important for different reasons (craftsmanship, design quality, textile quality, historical significance, etc.). The key with a show like this is for it to be thoughtfully organized and for the didactics to clearly lead the visitor through each section so that it does not become disjointed. I have faith in LACMA-- they have a great collection and celebrated curators (Sharon Takeda and Kaye Spilker), so it is probably a wonderful exhibition.

Speaking of the curators, there is a great little interview with them here that shows what they do and how they put together an exhibit. They have my dream job! It is making me terribly nostalgic for my time at the Museum at FIT. I also like that the videos show the conservators and mannequin dressers, who are truly crucial to the exhibition and who often go overlooked.

Finally, here is a link to the cute children's game that accompanies the exhibit online. What a great idea!

Have any of you seen the exhibit? What did you think of the video? The children's game?
Tune in before too long when I report back from the Virginia Association of Museums' Annual Conference!

Image, "Mlle. Madeleine Dolley modeling a pale gray ornately embroidered and beaded (with gold) robe du bal, or ball gown made of salome silk designed by Paquin, photographed by Bert, from French periodical Les Modes," 1909, Life magazine.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Summer recap and last chance to see "Art by the Yard" at the Textile Museum

Photo of myself and a friend at the Mod Madness event, checking out some Lucienne Day tea towels. Photo courtesy of the Textile Museum.

After an extremely eventful summer, I am back and hoping to start posting more regularly again! I have just started work as the new part-time Collections Assistant at Dumbarton House, a Federal-period historic house museum in Georgetown with a great collection of decorative arts. This summer I was cataloging and rehousing Sewall-Belmont House and Museum's phenomenal collection of textiles related to the fight for women's suffrage and the Equal Rights Amendment, including a number of significant banners used for picketing the White House in the nineteen-teens which may be on display before long!

Some of this summer's most interesting textile events have surrounded an exhibit at the Textile Museum on S Street in Washington, D.C. called "Art by the Yard: Women Design Mid-Century Britain." The exhibit closes this Sunday, September 12th, so if you have not yet been to see it I highly recommend that you go! The show focuses on textile designs by Lucienne Day, a pioneering British textile designer in the mid-century Modern style. Beginning with her groundbreakingly abstract "Calyx," the galleries showcase her imaginative, appealing, and sometimes humorous designs with ample yardage. I particularly like the back gallery, which has a room featuring textiles in situ with furniture designed by her equally famous husband, Robin Day and also shows some of her delightful tea towels. Too bad the repros cost such a fortune in the gift shop! The final room also includes the work of two of Mrs. Day's contemporaries, Jacqueline Groag and Marian Mahler.

My only complaint with the exhibit was that I felt there was far too much text-- many of the didactics elicited the dreaded TLDR (too long, didn't read) response, even from me (and I am a big reader of didactics). Still, the pieces were extraordinary, the exhibit arrangement flowed well, and the mounts were fantastic as always (with a salute to my friends in the conservation lab, Anne Ennes and Esther Methe).

The first event I attended this summer that was associated with the exhibit was a lecture by the esteemed Titi Halle, director of Cora Ginsburg LLC (possibly the best dealer of historic costumes and textiles in the country). Her talk, entitled "Cutting Edge: Textile Artists of the 20th Century," was a primer on 20th-century textile design from Raoul Dufy's work for Paul Poiret to the Bauhaus and the Weiner Werkstatte to designers of the fifties and sixties, including Mrs. Day and showed some wonderful images of examples from the Cora Ginsburg collection. It was a great refresher for me and a good basic introduction to the subject for anyone interested.

The second event I attended that was linked to the exhibit was purely for fun-- it was an evening event called "Mod Madness" that linked the mid-century theme of the exhibit to the popular fixation with Mad Men and included a bar, food for sale, a DJ and jazz combo, a silkscreen-your-own T-shirt station, and a "best mid-century dressed" contest (I was a runner-up but not a winner... next time!) It was very heavily attended, by professionals, hipsters, and museum dorks (that's my category) young and older (mostly women, but that seems to be the usual situation with museums!). Tickets were only $10 and included one ticket for a non-premium drink. A great time was had by all and I think it was a great event for the TM, although I have not heard any details from their staff. Hope to see more like it! I have noticed that young professionals are the new hot market for museums, so I expect there will be many such events in the future.

Enjoy the exhibit at the TM this weekend- and remember, they're open 10-5 on Saturday and 1-5 on Sunday and have a suggested donation of $5 (but pay what you can/want).

Did you attend either of these events? Any other great textile or museum-related events this summer? Did you enjoy this exhibit?
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