This weekend I finally dropped in to the Philadelphia Museum of Art to see the exhibition Souls Grown Deep: Artists of the African American South. In 2014, the Souls Grown Deep Foundation began transferring a majority of the 1,000 artworks in their collection to permanent collections around the world. Last year, the Philadelphia Museum of Art acquired some of the famous Gee’s Bend quilts as well as sculpture. This exhibition showcased some of these new acquisitions.
Gee’s Bend in Alabama is known for the quilts made there in the early twentieth century through to today. These artworks are expressive and unique, using scraps of fabric and clothing, patchworks hand-stitched into bed-sized quilts. Many of the quilts in the exhibit are online, so I’ll link to those better quality images.
Nettie Young’s Milky Way (1971) is part of the Freedom Quilting Bee. Young was a co-manager of the bee and this quilt is an example of the commercialization of the Gee’s Bend quilts. While this quilt is personal, the design is reflective of the contract the bee had with Bloomingdale’s. The department store design a quilt of circles and squares, then commissioned the bee to produce it. These may have been leftover elements from that design.
Right next door to this exhibition was The Art of Collage and Assemblage, a theme that fits will with the Gee’s Bend quilts. One of the pieces is Charlie Logan’s Man’s “Diamond Sis” Coat (1978-84). Logan, often homeless and sick in Alton, Illinois, wore embellished garments like this one. Found objects such as buttons and photos are stitched right in to the jacket.
Technical Services/Reference Librarian, LIM College & Vice Moderator of FTC SIG
What’s your Go-To Resource to Recommend for FTC Students?
I love showing students WGSN both for their marketing reports and fashion forecasts. Not only is the information unique and fascinating, the reports are beautiful to look at and students really enjoy them. “Gen X Men: Style Tribes” is one of my favorite reports to demonstrate the power of their research. Our Fashion Merch students also really love the Design Resources tools like Colour Play and the Image & Design Library.
Tell me about a project you’re working on!
This is my first year organizing our annual Fashion: Now & Then conference, which is in it’s ninth year running (please come!). This specialized conference focuses on fashion information professional and scholars and this year will have talks on everything from fashion of sex workers to gender presentation. I attended this conference as an LIS student interning at the Met back in 2010 so it’s wild to me that I’m organizing it now!
Are you seeing any trends in FTC student projects/topics/etc?
Our students are nuts for sustainability. They are very concerned about the environment and climate change. They have big ambitions to enter the fashion industry and institute change that will lead to a healthier planet for all. I hope they can hold on to their optimism for change as they enter the industry!
What are you currently reading?
I’m a fantasy/sci-fi nut and am now reading The Fate of the Tearling by Erika Johansen. “Professionally” I am also reading Feminist Fight Club: An Office Survival Manual (For A Sexist Workplace) by Jessica Bennett.