Marina Moskowitz is the Lynn and Gary Mecklenburg Chair in Textiles, Material Culture, and Design, in the Design History department of the School of Human Ecology.
A year ago, a unique collaboration between student researchers, the SoHE Communications team, and the Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection (HLATC) launched the year-long Textile Tuesday project to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Textile Collection.
That first post, by Textile and Fashion Design student Austin Morrow, examined the earliest textile in the series, a 15th-century Italian chasuble, composed of hand-cut red velvet with metallic embroidery ornament. Each week thereafter, we featured specific textiles from the Collection that spanned seven centuries and over 20 national origins; a broad range of uses from ceremonial and fashionable apparel to furnishing fabrics for domestic and commercial settings; and an array of textile techniques including weaving, embroidery, applique, dyeing, printing, and tailoring. Together these posts offered a representative cross-section of the breadth and depth of the Textile Collections, this spectacular resource that SoHE is so lucky to have as one pillar of its curriculum and outreach.
This project originated in a class assignment for DS 430: History of Textiles in the fall of 2018, in which students chose textiles of their own personal and intellectual interest, examined and analysed them in the Mary Kunz Berge classroom within the Textile Collection, researched and wrote short-form essays for a public readership, and peer edited one another’s work. The series was augmented with posts by graduate students, exhibition curators, faculty, and staff from both the Textile Collection and the Communications team, illuminating how textiles from the HLATC are the focus of current research, new exhibitions, and other events both on and off campus. The Communications team, including the wonderful students employees in the Think Tank Team, were stalwarts in preparing and publishing these posts each week. ‘Analog’ printed poster-versions of the series were also incorporated into the array of student work inspired by the Textile Collection on display at the Promega Art Showcase in the summer of 2019.
Many thanks to all involved in making this project happen, and also for all of the many readers who gave us such great feedback throughout the year! While the Textile Tuesday series has drawn to a close with the end of the HLATC 50th anniversary year, it has signalled the start of new initiatives to bridge the curricular and outreach projects carried out in the Textile Collection. Watch this space for new developments!
In 2019, the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Human Ecology launched a yearlong anniversary celebration of the Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection. Over the past half century, the collection has grown from an original 4,000-piece gift to more than 13,000 objects that have inspired and informed thousands of students, researchers, historians, and textile aficionados. The 50-year celebration began on January 27, 2019, with the opening of new Lynn Mecklenburg Textile Gallery, a space dedicated to year-round displays of the collections. Activities continue into 2019 with a calendar of public exhibitions, symposia, lectures, and public workshops.