Call for Vice Moderator for FTC SIG

The SIG is looking for a vice moderator for 2020! This position would continue as moderator in 2021. Vice moderators and moderators reach out to new members, manage the blog, liaise with the ARLIS/NA Executive Board, and organize the SIG meeting at the annual conference. Time commitment is moderate and while conference attendance is beneficial, it is not mandatory. If interested, please reach out to the SIG moderators by Friday, January 3.

Thank you!

Olivia Warshaw (
Shannon Robinson (
Lauren Bradley (

Present at ARLIS/NA 2020!

We’re looking for someone interested in doing a brief presentation to the SIG at our annual meeting at ARLIS/NA 2020. The presentation could take the form of a slide lecture, leading discussion, or short activity. The presentation plus Q+A would be around 15 minutes and can be on anything relevant to fashion, textile, or costume librarianship. Topics might include information literacy instruction, collection development, outreach and engagement, or personal research. Please note your interest and possible topic(s) to the SIG moderators by Friday, January 3.

Thank you!

Olivia Warshaw (
Shannon Robinson (
Lauren Bradley (

Mrinalini Mukherjee

Last month I got to see the exhibition Phenomenal Nature: Mrinalini Mukherjee at The Met Breuer. Mukherjee worked in fiber, mostly hemp and cotton rope, before exploring ceramic and bronze at the end of her career. This was the first retrospective of the Indian sculptor, a collection of works that left New York Times art critic asking, “How on earth did someone even think to do this, never mind to do it?”


above: Nag Devta (Serpent Diety), 1979: “Abounding with fecundity and vitality, the piece comingles male and female sexual attributed into a single form” (from the exhibition guide)

below: Apsara (Celestial Nymph), 1985


in foreground: Pushp (Flower), 1993 – these works are inspired by the magnolia flower but clearly suggest female genitalia and erotic passion


In the late 1990s, Mukherjee started to transition away from fiber, namely because the work was physically demanding and the locally sourced rope she used had changed fiber content and she could not dye the material to these gorgeous colors. Yet her ceramics have the same softness of movement as her fiber work, as seen below in Night Bloom I, 1999-2000.


Her bronzes are cast from plant fragments and still allude to genitalia and possess a femininity not often seen in metalwork. Here are Palmscapes I and II from 2013.



Camp: Notes on Fashion

Just before the exhibition closing, I got up to New York City to see the Costume Institute’s Camp: Notes on Fashion. The show layout is mimicked in the catalog – two volumes that are bound together. The first volume covers the first half of the show, the history and development of camp. For me, this was the best part of the show because it emphasized how intentional dress choice has been throughout history. My favorite piece was this Ocsar Wilde-inspired ensemble from Gucci’s 2017 menswear collection.

Gucci menswearThe second half of the exhibit largely took place in one, two-story room. This was full-on camp. In the catalog, this is volume two, a flip book of all the costume from modern and contemporary designers.

exhibit detailI had a lot of favorites from this huge exhibition, but fell in love with these House of Balenciaga ensembles from the 2016-2017 autumn/winter collection.

Balenciaga dresses

For those of you who couldn’t make it, I do recommend the catalog. The images of the costume portray the fabric and cut, and camp, in clean presentation. The essays are insightful and this was a well-researched show.

While at the Met I caught another show just ending, the textile work of Mrinalini Mukherjee. I’ll share images from that exhibition next month!

Souls Grown Deep

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.


Roman Stripes Variation Quilt by Loretta Pettway, 1970


Pettway was inspired to make this quilt by her stepmother who had created a “crazy” quilt from old pants. There are quite a few Pettway quilters. The Bennett family, including Delia (left) were also prolific and related by marriage to Pettways. Below is Delia’s 1955 Housetop Fractured Medallion Variation.




nettie_young_3606Nettie 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.

Gee's Bend Quilt

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.








Summer Exhibitions

Taking some time off this summer? Traveling? Here are some museum fashion and textile exhibitions throughout the US these next few months.

Heading to NYC? Be sure to check out The Met’s Camp: Notes on Fashion “which examines how the elements of irony, humor, parody, pastiche, artifice, theatricality, and exaggeration are expressed in fashion.” This show runs through September 8. The Museum at FIT is exhibiting Minimalism/Maximalism through November 16. The show is “devoted to the historical interplay of minimalist and maximalist aesthetics as expressed through high fashion.”

Is a trip to Los Angeles in your summer plans? Two shows of interest are at the FIDM Museum. BA in Design is a student exhibition running through the end of June. Starting in mid-August, catch the Art of Television Costume Design. Over at LACMA, check out Power of Pattern, an exhibition of Asian ikat robes and panels until August 11.

If you’ll be traveling through the Midwest, take a detour to Kent State University in Ohio. Two exhibitions are up this summer. Focus: Fiber 2019 is juried exhibition of contemporary fiber art and Fashion Meets the Body highlights work from the University’s faculty.

Or stop over in Chicago to see Weaving Beyond the Bauhaus at the Art Institute of Chicago, opening at the beginning of August. MCA has two shows of interest: Jessica Campbell’s textile works (through July) and Virgil Abloh’s fashion (through September).

If you’re coming to my city, Philly, there are a few fashion treats awaiting you. Souls Grown Deep, to September, at the Philadelphia Museum of Art is an exhibition of Southern African American textiles and artwork. The Fabric Workshop has Sonya Clark on display through August and Bill Viola through October.

Head south and view both Asian textiles and Dior at the Dallas Museum of Art. Sheila Hicks is exhibiting at The Bass in Miami. Atlanta has two shows for textiles lovers: Hand to Hand showcases southern craft until August 4 and SCAD FASH has Mary Katrantzou on view until July 28.

Know of fashion, textile, or costume exhibitions in your neck of the woods? Share with us!

Costume Institute Exhibition + Gala

The Metropolitan Museum of Arts’ Costume Institute’s 2019 exhibition, Camp: Notes on Fashion opens May 9 and runs through September 8. The exhibit showcases hundreds of objects from the seventeenth century through today. Just what is camp? Watch the Met’s video on the exhibition to find out.

The exhibition theme is framed around Susan Sontag’s essay Notes on Camp (1964). You can freely download the essay from Monoskop. Sontag includes clothing as a large part of camp, “emphasizing texture, sensuous surface, and style at the expense of content.”  Observer reviewed the exhibit and highlights some of the campiest of costumes included.

Of course, you can also see how celebrities interpreted the camp theme at last night’s Gala. Vogue and CNN have plenty of photos from the red carpet. Find out what camp means to Billy Porter.

Follow the hashtag #MetCamp and get a copy of the catalog for your library!