CMCS newsletter - Feb 2013


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Gayle Strege, Curator of the Historic Costume& Textiles Collection, and Kathryn Jakes, professor, will discuss Fashion2Fiber and the Fiber Reference Image Library, comprehensive web accessible references of historic clothing images with in-depth descriptive text and anecdotal information.



On February 13, following a short overview of the Reducing the Risk (RTR) program from the Department of Public Safety—Security Services presented by Su Au Arnold,  Douglas McGrew, Security Manager of the Wexner Center for the Arts, provided insight into the origins of the RTR program and how it will play a part in the initiative being launched by Office of Financial Services.  Douglas Huffner, Associate Risk Officer announced a new Art Registrar position at Ohio State which will be posted soon.  The registrar will work to pull together the University’s vast Cultural Properties, list them in an accessible database, determine values, conditions, and seek guidance for their safety.  The registrar also will work with University Development and Department Chairs to establish policies and procedures to inventory new Cultural Properties when they are offered to the University. Input from members of the Center for Material Culture Studies will be sought in determination of database architecture so it will serve the needs of faculty, professional staff and students for research and education. For further information, contact Su Au Arnold at


Sarah-Grace Heller
A New Illustrated History of Fashion: Scrutinizing Attitudes towards Consumption in Sparse Texts and Graves
The notion of "Modern Western Fashion" assumes there was a time without a modern fashion system. But when and where was that, precisely? Costume histories have neglected the early and high Middle Ages, saying that garment silhouettes remained unchanged, treating these periods as fashion's opposite.  Was that really the case? To tell the history of fashion accurately, these periods deserve recognition for the aspects of fashion they developed and ignored. There is a need for a synthesis of mounting archeological evidence, textual accounts, and visual sources to re-examine attitudes towards consumption in these periods. Many challenges are encountered in studying attitudes towards novelty and consumption in the periods prior to the fourteenth century, both through the lexicon of admiration and anxiety over novelty and consumption in poems, romances, laws, and saints' lives, and through nonverbal forms of such as paintings and funereal goods.
Debbie Smith-Shank
Gazing at My Mother’s Mirror: The Artwork of Cynthia
Hellyer Heinz 
Material culture artifacts guide and reflect our understanding of our identities as we negotiate our lifespans. They offer possibilities and dreams of what could and might be, but also bear witness to what has been. In this presentation, the contemporary visual and narrative artwork of U.S. artist, Cynthia Hellyer Hines is used to consider and confront the marks, scars, and significance of time on her model's aging body and that body's relationship with our own selves and cultures. 

Upcoming meetings

April 3, Digital Image Databases for Material Culture Research: Fashion2Fiber and Fiber Reference Image Library, 3:30- 5;00, Knight House
April 18, Planning meeting: next year’s speakers, invited speaker, proposal development and plans for 2013-2014 year, 3:30-5:00, Knight House 


The mission of the Center for Material Culture Studiesat the Ohio State University is to provide a forum for interdisciplinary inquiry and  research focusing on material culture.  The center will also serve as an umbrella organization under which the diverse and disparate collections held across the university will be made more accessible to the faculty, undergraduate and graduate students and the community.




Theatre Research Institute

Historic Costume & Textiles Collection

Arts Administration, Education and Policy department

Draft Proposal to Establish The Center for Material Culture Studies [pdf]



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