Story by Doreen Beard
A wide variety of historic apparel and textiles will be featured in Fall 2017 exhibitions and programs at the Avenir Museum. Plan your autumn calendar to include these textile treasure opportunities:
‘Expression of Self and Belonging: Enslaved People and Race-Based Fashion in the United States’
Evening lecture by Avenir Museum Curator Katie Knowles, September 14, 7 p.m.; reception to follow.
This will be the first evening program of the fall semester at the Avenir Museum, delivered by newly appointed Assistant Professor of Design and Merchandising/Avenir Museum Curator Katie Knowles, Ph.D.
At CSU, Knowles will be engaged in research across the breadth and depth of the Avenir Museum collection. She is also a recognized scholar of historic textiles and apparel associated with enslaved people; Knowles joins CSU after several years working at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.
Based on years of extensive object-based research, Knowles will discuss how clothing and textiles reveal a colorful and diverse group of sources that complicate perceptions of slave clothing as monotone and uniform. In particular, she examines two aprons, a skirt, a handkerchief, and a dress – all of which survived into the twenty-first century and are now in museum collections across the U.S. – which speak volumes to us about the value placed on them as special documents of the lived experience of American slavery.
Exhibition runs August 25-December 15; evening lecture is October 12, 7 p.m.
This exhibition features the exquisite creative scholarship of four faculty members of the Department of Design and Merchandising – Carol Engel-Enright, Ph.D., Kevin Kissell, M.A./M.F.A., Anna Perry, Ph.D., and Diane Sparks, Ed.D. Their individual creative work is inspired by a range of influences: Asian textiles, pop culture superheroes, embroidery, wearable art, hand weaving, and digital printing, and each faculty member has a unique aesthetic approach that results in eclectic and extravagant display of color, texture, and surface embellishment on fabric.
Engel-Enright, Kissell, Perry, and Sparks will be at the Avenir Museum for an informal panel on October 12 to discuss their inspiration and execution techniques. There will be an opportunity to ask all those “how’d they do that?” questions about digital design technologies as well as traditional manual techniques for creating and manipulating textiles and garments.
‘The Allure of the Moroccan Caftan’
This exhibition examines this North African garment as an item of practical apparel that has evolved over centuries. In the last twenty years, the caftan has exploded onto Morocco’s high fashion scene, and this colorful exhibition traces how history, geography, craftsmanship, national pride, and tradition have contributed to the caftan’s contemporary allure.
On November 16, guest curator Marcella Wells, Ph.D., will present a fascinating behind-the-scenes glimpse into her development of ‘The Allure of the Moroccan Caftan.’ How does one distill centuries of North African textile heritage and cultural apparel evolution, consider the influence of shifting political sands, incorporate twentieth century French couturier Yves St. Laurent, and figure out how to proofread Arabic — all to tell the short story of the Moroccan caftan in 600 feet of exhibition space? Dr. Wells will talk about what she learned along the way. As part of the exhibition, visitors can try on caftans for a unique, hands-on experience!
Exhibition runs September 1 – December 15.
“Cover Up!” is an opportunity to exhibit some of the Avenir Museum’s considerable collection of flat textiles – in this case, coverlets – particularly as late summer turns to the cool of autumn. During the 19th century, home weavers produced a wide variety of domestic textiles such as clothing, undergarments, towels, and bed furnishings.
The most common woven textile used as a bed covering was the coverlet. A uniquely American form of craft that developed in the early United States, coverlets document the evolution of textile technology and are now prized as art. “Cover Up!” features a selection of coverlets from the Avenir’s permanent collection that illustrates the three principal weave styles produced in the 19th century: overshot, double cloth, and jacquard.
The Avenir Museum is in the Department of Design and Merchandising, part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.