College of Design

Goldstein Museum of Design

Report for Textile Society of America's 13th Annual Biennial Symposium

natashaDC3.jpgIn September, I had the opportunity to present at the Textile Society of America's 13th Annual Biennial Symposium. Held in Washington D.C., the theme of the symposium was "Textiles and Politics". My presentation, "The Reluctant Reformer: May Morris' United States Lecture Tour of 1909-1910", was inspired by my MA thesis. The presentation followed the British Arts and Crafts embroiderer, May Morris, from New York to Minneapolis, exploring her gradual transformation into an outspoken advocate for textile unions.


Participants in the conference had several opportunities to engage with local museums and galleries via behind-the-scenes tours. I chose to visit the Daughters of the American Revolution Museum where they were busy preparing for the upcoming exhibition "Fashioning the New Woman: 1890-1925". The exhibition will explore the revolutionary fashions of the early 20th century that were designed to reflect the social and political changes affecting women's lives.

natashaDC2.jpgAfter this tour, there was a special reception for TSA symposium participants at the Textile Museum. Once again, we were treated to a preview of the museum's upcoming exhibition, "The Sultan's Garden: The Blossoming of Ottoman Art." This exhibition showcases the influence of 16th century Ottoman floral designs on objects produced for the Turkish empire. These beautiful and elaborate designs also impacted the work of British Arts and Crafts designers, like May Morris and her father, William Morris.

I also had the chance to explore Washington D.C. on my own. My favorite exhibition was held at the Renwick Gallery. "40 Under 40: Craft Futures" explored recent work of artists working in wood, ceramic, paper, glass, and fiber. I was most excited to see work by Mia Pearlman, a spectacular contemporary paper artist and Sabrina Gschwandtner who pieces together quilts from filmstrips.

Natasha Thoreson, Collections Assistant

Top: That's me standing in front of the Textile Museum in northwestern Washington D.C.

Middle: A series of costumes featured in the DAR exhibition, note the mannequins' hairstyles created from wool roving. Image from
Bottom: 3: Mia Pearlman's ONE (2012), one-half of her site-specific installation at the Renwick. Image from

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