Yesterday I had the unique opportunity to go to a Costume Society of America Meet – Up (an informal and free event giving CSA members the opportunity to mix and mingle with their fellow enthusiasts) at the UC Davis Design Museum. Organized by past-president, Jo Ann C. Stabb, we had gathered together to see Structures, Signifiers and Society: People and Textiles which happened to include a curators walk-through with Mary Schoeser, a UC Davis alumna.
Schoeser, who also has a beautiful new book out Textiles: The Art of Mankind provided an amazing depth to the exhibition — highlighting unique objects and connections within the UC Davis collections. Objects ranged in age, country, technique and quality. It included both hand and machine-made textiles intended for both the art connoisseur and mass market consumers. The exhibition included groupings of historic and ethnographic textiles as they related to environment, identity, and other groupings. In her walk-through, Schoeser drew fascinating connections between the development of the loom and the development of the computer; the rise of the QR Code and it’s connections to textile weaving; in addition to the links between brain chemistry and textile production. It was truly a unique experience.
Making the meet-up all the better were the people in attendance. CSA past presidents, board members, conservators, professors, curators, as well as current students in attendance made for a valuable exchange of ideas. Following the tour, attendees mingled in the hallway over two pieces of historic clothing and examined their ins and outs. Melissa Leventon and Meg Geiss-Mooney pored over the two garments (one from c.1917, the other from c.1894) discussing their ideas about their history while attendees listened in, hovering nearby and asking questions. It was a marvelous day, and a wonderful opportunity.
Structures, Signifiers and Society: People and Textiles is on view through March 18, at the UC Davis Design Museum. Below are some photos to further tempt you: