In celebration of Women’s History Month, I would like to acknowledge (and brag, of course) about the curated exhibit by my niece, Lauren Schleich, and classmates. Their exhibit, Voice of Textiles: Unraveling the personal and political, has much to do with women’s history, the constraints of patriarchy, and the engagement of women’s personal and political struggles in the 20th and 21st centuries. Each are pursuing graduate studies at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. They present two exhibits: The Textiles in Focus and Community and Conversation.
The opening of The Textiles in Focus exhibit notes: “Textile production, maintenance, and repair have frequently been used as a means of objectifying, constricting, and oppressing women, particularly those from lower socio-economic and ethnic minority backgrounds.” These young women also understand that “Creative freedom is liberating, and the making process is a reliable companion to all kinds of change.” They begin the first exhibit by incorporating textiles representing the Suffragette Movement and the women who proudly and openly campaigned for voting rights and equality. The photo at right shows the front of a stunning belt worn by a Suffragette in the early 20th century.
The second exhibit, Community and Conversation, notes the importance of community and sharing knowledge at the heart of this exhibit. “Research and information networks are so important, as is passing on inherited knowledge. So much of textile learning is passed from generation to generation, and risks being lost or forgotten.” These astute observations ring true whether being a writer of stories in a physical form such as books or as a storyteller of oral histories and traditions.
Exploring, maintaining, and sharing that knowledge is the job a curator undertakes. I feel great pride for the exemplary work of Lauren and her classmates who made up the curator team. I also know this; These young women’s voices will speak out and refuse to be ignored. Congratulations to all of you!