Resources for Research and Teaching about Textiles as a Domestic Art in Art Education

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<ul><li><p>National Art Education Association</p><p>Resources for Research and Teaching about Textiles as a Domestic Art in Art EducationAuthor(s): Doug Blandy and Elizabeth HoffmanSource: Art Education, Vol. 44, No. 1 (Jan., 1991), pp. 60-71Published by: National Art Education AssociationStable URL: .Accessed: 16/06/2014 16:44</p><p>Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms &amp; Conditions of Use, available at .</p><p> .JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range ofcontent in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new formsof scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact</p><p> .</p><p>National Art Education Association is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to ArtEducation.</p><p> </p><p>This content downloaded from on Mon, 16 Jun 2014 16:44:35 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p></p></li><li><p>;r-" </p><p>k~ " </p><p>-7 " 1 </p><p>AA </p><p>. 4 </p><p>-k 4. </p><p>04 . </p><p>r4 40 rba </p><p>, ? </p><p>+,, - ' </p><p>" </p><p>i~~ ~ ? ,,+, e+ 4' fli </p><p>Detail: Crazy Quilt. C 1885. Collection of Oregon State University. Photo by Nancy Bryant and Elizabeth Hoffman. </p><p>Resources for Research and Teaching About Textiles as a Domestic Art in Art Education </p><p>Doug Blandy and Elizabeth Hoffman </p><p>Cottage Grove, Oregon, is a small rural village of approximately 7,000 people situated in the foothills of the Cascade Mountain range at the southern end of the Willamette Valley. Settled in 1850 and incorporated in 1862, this town is largely dependent upon the timber industry. Readers may know it best as the location in which Buster Keaton made his film "The General." </p><p>Visitors to the main streets of Cottage </p><p>Grove are likely to enter a small storefront called "The Over-45 Shop." Customers will encounter an inventory of handicrafts by local citizens over the age of 45. Possible purchases will include utilitarian objects associated with the home. Processes used to make these objects include crochet, knitting, embroidery, needlepoint, wood- working, ceramics, tatting, leatherwork, sewing, and rug-hooking, among others. </p><p>For most people entering the "Over-45 </p><p>60 Art Education/January 1991 </p><p>This content downloaded from on Mon, 16 Jun 2014 16:44:35 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p></p></li><li><p>Shop," their primary purpose will be to purchase a new covering for a bed, clothes for a child's doll, potholders for the kitchen, or a whirly-gig for the garden. However, objects like these that are associated with the "Over-45 Shop" are also being seri- ously attended to by scholars from women's studies, American studies, folklore, popular culture, and material culture. These objects are variously known to these scholars as examples of the gentle arts (Isaacs, 1987), woman's art (Parker and Pollack, 1981), folk art (Dewhurst, MacDowell, and MacDowell, 1979; Jones, 1987), hobby art (Lippard, 1984), family arts (Pacey, 1984), and domestic arts (Isaacs, 1987). These objects are the focus of research into the nature of aesthetics and artmaking.1 </p><p>Domestic art has also been studied by art educators. Collins and Sandell (1984) have brought to our attention the domestic arts through their discussion of the "hid- denstream." The hiddenstream is primarily associated with women artists who weave, quilt, stitch, do ceramics, and engage in body decoration. This work is closely linked with the pressing needs of everyday life and is produced within the domestic or home environment. The achievements of artists working in the hiddenstream, according to Collins and Sandell, include the sophistication of forms and processes with both an aesthetic and utilitarian purpose, the integration of art production and values with everyday life, craftsperson- ship, institutions such as quilting circles which reinforce community, and the recyclability of materials, among others. Collins and Sandell also note that artists working in the hiddenstream have "in- spired" artists working in the "mainstream." This inspiration is at times acknowledged, but is very often unacknowledged. </p><p>Collins' and Sandell's recommendations </p><p>1 For the purposes of this article, these objects will be referred to as domestic art. Domestic art is a phrase that has gained popularity in recent years to describe those arts made primarily by women in the home for a private audience - usually for family or close friends. The conditions under which the makers produced the art and the relationship between the maker and object and between the object and viewer/ user may be quite different from those relations apparent in the fine arts world. Usefulness seems to be a significant factor in the production of domestic art. Also, works are often the result of collaborative efforts. </p><p>to include hiddenstream or domestic art and artists in art education curriculum is not incongruent with those rationales developed by art educators advocating for multi-cultural, and community-based art education (McFee, 1966; McFee and Degge, 1977; Chalmers, 1974). These scholars have long recognized the impor- tance of art and artists working outside of the so-called fine arts world. However, in the years following Collins' and Sandell's introduction of the hiddenstream to art educators, there has not been a wide- spread acknowledgement or inclusion of domestic art in art education publications and curriculum. There are, of course, notable exceptions. Congdon, (1986; 1989) has argued for the importance of including the language and criticism associated with the domestic arts in art education. Her articles on the inclusion of folk art in art education also support the inclusion of work by domestic artists (Congdon, 1987; 1986; 1985). A place for domestic art in art education has also been supported through the application of democratic principles integral to life and education in those nations purporting to be democratic (Blandy and Congdon, 1987). On a few occasions, domestic art has been included in the instructional resource pages inserted in Art Education (Cole, 1989; Capetta, A., and Fitzgerald, D. 1989), as well as on the cover of this periodical (Clark, 1985a, 1985b; Lewis, 1988). </p><p>Although we regret not seeing more domestic art considered in art education, we are not surprised by its absence. Its historical "hiddenness" has probably prevented many art educators from easily accessing resources associated with it. Its disparagement by the fine arts world has meant that domestic art and writings on domestic art will not appear in those institu- tional and print resources, such as art museums and fine arts publications, with which art educators are most familiar. We do not mean to imply, however, that resources are not available. Although art critics, art educators, aestheticians, and art historians have largely ignored the domes- tic arts, our research shows that scholars from other disciplines have not. An exten- sive and growing record of domestic art is currently being compiled by scholars from such fields as home economics, women's studies, folklore, American studies, and </p><p>Art Education/January 1991 61 </p><p>This content downloaded from on Mon, 16 Jun 2014 16:44:35 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p></p></li><li><p>popular culture. Art educators first encoun- tering such resources available on domes- tic art may be overwhelmed by the appar- ent massiveness of a topic associated with the many art forms integral to it. </p><p>It will be our purpose in this article to focus on resources associated with one facet of domestic art. Our concem will be with textiles. The breadth of this topic leaves one wondering how it could possibly be "hidden." Textile structures alone may include non-yarn structures (e.g., tapa, felt); non-woven textiles and processes (e.g., spinning, knitting, crochet, sprang, netting, braiding, knotting, twining); woven textiles, which may further be classified by loom type, fabric width, and/or weave structure; multiple fabric component structures (e.g., piecing, applique, quilting); embellishment and surface design (e.g. application of dyes; embroidery, quill, bead, and feather work); and multiple structures under one classification (e.g., basketry, lace). By concentrating on the myriad resources available in this one area, we hope to provide a categorical framework through which art educators can access other domestic art resources. Our approach to the topic is also cognizant of the many ways in which students learn and researchers access information. Conse- quently, readers will be referred to print as well as non-print resources. Sources presented will include approaches to self/ community studies; materials from clubs and guilds, special projects, retail stores, mail order, county fairs, and government; trade journals; galleries, museums, collec- tions, and archives; library resources; university instructional media centers; and other miscellaneous sources. Although we believe our categories of resources are nearly exhaustive, the resources listed within each are purposely eclectic and only suggestive of the richness of each cate- gory. No one textile structure will be covered in all categories, but many textile structures will be given in order to demon- strate resources available in the various categories and to provide the reader with a broad orientation to textiles as a domestic art. We assume our readers will add to each category, and we recognize a need for the addition of new categories based upon the individual needs of scholars and students. In addition, the reader is cau- tioned that the addresses and telephone </p><p>numbers of the commercial and not for profit organizations may change. </p><p>Self Study/Community Study Collins and Sandell (1984) characterize the hiddenstream or domestic tradition as one that is primarily accessible through the interpersonal relationships between family members or between members of the same community. Techniques, processes, materials, and history are passed down to succeeding generations as are the surviv- ing products. This being the case, we first urge art educators and students to con- sider their families and communities or themselves as depositories of domestic art resources. </p><p>In our own researching and teaching about domestic art, we have found that the hope chests, cedar chests, sideboards, and blanket chests of our students, col- leagues, family, and friends contain many fine examples of domestic art work. At times, our students and colleagues are practicing domestic artists. The personal narratives associated with these objects will reveal contextual information on the women and sometimes men who made them. Tales of cross-country trips, immi- gration, marriage, births, friendship, and death are often intimately connected to the products preserved. Print resources can be used to complement textile finds and oral history by identifying structure types, materials, and popularity of techniques in certain eras. For example, two resources which would illuminate lace and knitted forms, respectively, are: </p><p>Earnshaw, P. (1980). The identification of lace. United Kingdom: Shire Publi- cations, Ltd. </p><p>Macdonald, A. (1988). No idle hands: The social history of American knitting. NY: Ballantine Books. </p><p>Recommended sources for guiding access to a family's or community's oral history of domestic art can be facilitated through the following publications or projects: </p><p>Bartis, P. (1981). Folklife and fieldwork: A layman's introduction to field techniques. Washington D.C.: Ameri- can Folklife Center. </p><p>This publication contains a practical introduction to folklife fieldwork. Bartis' purpose" ... is to suggest some practical techniques for the collection of folklife </p><p>62 Art Education/January 1991 </p><p>This content downloaded from on Mon, 16 Jun 2014 16:44:35 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p></p></li><li><p>materials and to assist the non-specialist in doing the kinds of collecting that can make a lasting contribution to our knowledge of American civilization" (p. 1). Guidelines are given on what to collect, possible interview subjects, interviewing techniques, and possible purposes for the research. A model tape log and fieldwork data sheet are given. Bartis also provides the reader with a list of recommended readings and folklife studies and fieldwork. For those interested in photo-documentation, several fine examples associated with domestic art illustrate this publication. </p><p>The Foxfire Fund, Inc., Rabun Gap, GA 20568. </p><p>The Foxfire project conceived and directed by Eliot Wigginton and as evi- denced in the Foxfire books offer evidence of the success that oral history projects related to folk culture can have in a school setting. A complete description of this project with rationales, methodology, and anecdotal information is available in: </p><p>Wigginton, E. (1985). Sometimes a shining moment: The Foxfire experi- ence. Garden City, NY: Anchor Press/Doubleday. </p><p>The Massachusetts History Workshop, P.O. Box 755, Cambridge, MA 02238. </p><p>The Massachusetts History Workshop is a community-based project pursuing a "democratic" approach to history. Commu- nity residents and historians collaborate to record the history of those whom academic history has ignored. The workshop pro- vides education, technical assistance, project development, and publications. </p><p>The Oral History Center, 57 Inman Street, Cambridge, MA 02139. </p><p>The Oral History Center has a strong educational focus and seeks to serve teachers, museum educators, curriculum specialists, social service workers, and others. Some of their projects use the arts to illustrate personal narratives. Consulta- tion and technical assistance are provided. </p><p>Many state arts councils or governments include a staff member or work with an outside consultant who specializes in folk art and folklife. Readers can consult their state arts council for the name of this individual. In addition, many universities and colleges include faculty with an interest in this subject. These individuals can also be contacted for information on doing folklife research. </p><p>Clubs, Guilds, and Study Groups For every textile structure, there is poten- tially a club, guild, or study group attached to it. These organizations exist for different reasons. Some see their primary function as social, providing an opportunity for friendship and social interaction. Others promote a charter based on educational pursuit. Many people find their textile group a...</p></li></ul>