Beverly Gordon headshot

Beverly Gordon

Professor Emerita
Design Studies Department; Textiles & Fashion Design Major
“Instructions for living a life:
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it

–Mary Oliver, from the poem “Sometimes”

I am both a scholar and a practicing artist. My interdisciplinary scholarly research focuses on the meanings of objects in people’s lives, particularly in relation to women and the domestic environment, and I take a global approach, looking broadly at intercultural relationships.  My greatest two main arenas have been the history of textiles and fashion, and theoretical aspects of material culture (e.g., the meanings of souvenirs; gendered approaches to proxemic distance). My art consists of collage and assemblage that often incorporates natural detritus such as bones, barks, and shell.

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PhD, University of Wisconsin-Madison
MA, Goddard College

Personal Website

Recent articles for a popular audience, eg inPiecework magazine: “The Push/Pull of the Doily: Revered, Reviled, and Reconceived;”  “Charity Fancywork of the Civil War Era;” “Deep-Seated Associations: Textile Threads in Language, Myths, Fairytales and Novels.”

Textiles: The Whole Story –Uses, Meanings, Significance. Thames & Hudson, 2011.

“Cloth and Consciousness: Our Deep Connections,” essay inArt and Textiles: Fabric as Material and Concept in Modern Art From Klimt to the Present, Markus Bruderlin, ed.Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg (Germany), 2013.

The Saturated World: Aesthetic Meaning, Intimate Objects, Women’s Lives,1890-1940. University of Tennessee Press, 2006.

“Showing the Colors: America,” essay in Wearing Propaganda: Civilian Textiles on the Home Front; America, Great Britain, and Japan 1931-1945, ed. Jacqueline Atkins. NY &New Haven: Bard Graduate Center with Yale University Press, 2005.

“Scrapbook Houses for Paper Dolls: Creative Expression, Aesthetic Elaboration and Bonding in the Female World,” in Susan Tucker, Katherine Ott and Patricia Buckler, eds., The Scrapbook in American Life. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2006, 116-134.

“Embodiment, Community Building, and Aesthetic Saturation in ‘Restroom World,’ a Backstage Women’s Space,” Journal of American Folklore 462 (Fall 2003).

“The Hand of the Maker: The Importance of Understanding Textiles From the Inside Out,” in Silk Roads, Other Roads: Proceedings of the Fourth Biennial Symposium of the Textile Society of America, 2003.

Bazaars and Fair Ladies: The History of the American Fundraising Fair. U. Tenn. Press, 1998.

Shaker Textile Arts. Hanover, N.H.: University Press of New England, 1980.

Feltmaking: Traditions, Techniques and Contemporary Explora­tions. New York: Watson Guptill, 1980.

“Deep-Seated Associations: Textile Threads in Language, Myths, Fairytales and Novels,” Piecework,September/October, 2018.

“Beading Culture: Raised Beadwork and the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin,” (exhibition review) 
Journal of American Folklore, Winter 2018.

“The Push/Pull of the Doily: Revered, Reviled, and Reconceived,”  Piecework, Nov.- Dec., 2017.

“Charity Fancywork of the Civil War Era,”Piecework, Sept.-Oct, 2013.

“Holding On” outdoor sculpture featured in Sanctuary 2017: Environmental Art at the Farley Centerexhibit at Overture Center for the Arts, Madison, WI, Fall, 2018.

Featured artist, Tierra Figures, Capitol Lakes Center, Madison, WI, June-July, 2017.

Featured artist,  Relief Collages,UW-Madison Continuing Studies gallery, Oct.-Nov. 2016.

Featured artist, Luminous Texture,(photographs) Capitol Lakes Center, Madison, WI, June-July, 2016

Featured artist in Strong Spirits: Art of Three Women, at Madison Senior Center, August 2-September 18, 2015.