Forum Connect

Contemplating Everyday Experiences

  • 1.  Contemplating Everyday Experiences

    Ambassador
    Posted 01-23-2019 00:40
    I would like to share (and open up a discussion about) this wonderful Ted Talk by Ariana Curtis titled: "Museums should  honor the everyday, not just the extraordinary." In it, Curtis argues that museums, which "can literally change how hundreds of millions of people see women and which women they see," should focus on the narratives of "...everyday women whose stories have been knowingly omitted from our national and global histories." Curtis reasons that though the narratives of "exceptional women" are "seductive" because they are "inspiring and aspirational," they are "atypical" and "...do not create a broad base for incorporating women's history, and they do not reflect our daily realities." She further argues that this narrative which is "skewed toward successful and extraordinary and reputable and desirable...maintains the systemic exclusion and marginalization of the everyday, the regular, the underrepresented and usually, the non-white."


    As Curtis challenges the dominant narrative of "exceptional" women and advocates for the visibility of the "stories of everyday women;" she concomitantly speaks about the everyday experiences of people of color--particularly women of color--in the museum field. She describes how "bringing [her] whole self into the professional realm can feel like an act of bravery, [one] that [she] was not always up for [the] challenge, whether from fear of rejection or self-preservation." As a woman of color in the allied field of Historic Preservation, I completely relate to this statement because, as Curtis so powerfully states, "...anyone who has felt outside of mainstream representations understands that there are basic elements just of our everyday being that can make other people uncomfortable." Not because of the quantitative diversity we bring to the table, but because of the truths and/or observations of our everyday experiences which may draw out unsettling moments of reflection and fragility in others.


    I believe, at the core of her talk, Curtis is probing the difficulties in qualifying the authenticity of the experiences and narratives of everyday women in history; and of the (few) women of color who are working to make these narratives more visible, and who are working to establish and validate their own spaces and narratives in the professional culture of their fields.


    P.S. for more discussion on fragility, diversity, and inclusion in professional culture, watch this video of Tamika Butler's keynote address at the National Association of City Transportation Officials' (NACTO) Annual Meeting.

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    Jamesha Gibson
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  • 2.  RE: Contemplating Everyday Experiences

    Ambassador
    Posted 01-23-2019 12:14
    There is an excellent book on this topic as well Restoring Women's History Through Historic Preservation. One of the biggest impacts it had on me is that with the preservation movement's strong focus on exteriors, we lose the stories of the everyday experiences and the stories of women and POC. People who weren't important enough to leave documents, or have their documents cared about/archived get lost.

    https://pwb02mw.press.jhu.edu/title/restoring-womens-history-through-historic-preservation/reviews

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    Tim Askin
    Milwaukee Historic Preservation Commission
    Milwaukee WI
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  • 3.  RE: Contemplating Everyday Experiences

    Ambassador
    Posted 01-23-2019 15:04
    Edited by Sarah Marsom 01-23-2019 15:08
    History worth saving does not always have to be "notable," sometimes the most simple parts of the past resonate the most deeply with people today.

    As an homage to women in the household, I've patterned with Alison King of Modern Phoenix for a workshop this March. Textile art was an integral part of many mid century women's lives. Women created woven textiles, created unique fabric designs, sewed items for themselves/their home/their family, etc.

    This homage comes in two parts:
    1. My desire to combine design and sewing with storytelling inspired me to partner with Spoonflower and Modern Phoenix. Together we launched the Desert Modernism Design Challenge, which is encouraging people to be influenced by the designs of the past to create their own repeating pattern for fabric.

    Textiles have been been a part of Arizona's women's history from the original people of the land, the native tribes weaving for practical purposes and storytelling to the mid century designs by Arizona icons such as Sophie and Harwood Steiger.

    This design challenge is a different way to get people thinking about women's influence on the home.

    2. In March, I'm leading a Sew Modern! workshop (during Modern Phoenix Week) where we will sew pillows utilizing the winning design from the Desert Modernism Design Challenge. After our crafting hour, we will use our pillows as cushions and watch the iconic Pillow Talk starring Doris Day and Rock Hudson. Mid century design was not encapsulated in a bubble, the past informed the designs being created, and today the full continuity of time impacts our lives today.

    I am looking forward to transporting people back in time through a hands-on educational opportunity that pays homage to all the wonderful women who have helped shape the textile industry.

    Regarding women of color's history specifically, I love the work of Cheyney McKnight and "Not Your Momma's History." Her work is thoughtfully expanding the narrative of what everyday history should be told and how it can be told.

    Bonus:
    Check out this fun video on textile design in the mid-20th century and the role of the "home maker."


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    Sarah Marsom
    Heritage Resource Consultant
    Tiny Activist Project
    me@sarahmarsom.com
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  • 4.  RE: Contemplating Everyday Experiences

    Posted 01-24-2019 11:07
    @Jamesha Gibson this is SO interesting ... and timely. The TedTalk w. Ariana Curtis was great -- she's a fantastic speaker (I'm definitely passing along to my colleagues as one of our main themes at the PastForward 2019 conference will be women's history). And I'll get to the other video -- it's just a tad bit longer than the TedTalk!!
    Our most recent Journal was about women's history and the article that really resonated with me was about the National Museum of American History (NMAH) collection from rallies and protests--specifically focusing on the 1913 women's suffrage march and the more recent 2017 Women's March on Washington. Hopefully the museums will be able to open soon, I'm very much interested in seeing this display.
    Thanks for starting this discussion!
    Colleen


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    Colleen Danz
    Forum Marketing Manager
    National Trust for Historic Preservation
    Washington DC
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  • 5.  RE: Contemplating Everyday Experiences

    Ambassador
    Posted 01-24-2019 18:38
    @Timothy Askin thanks for the book recommendation!
    @Sarah Marsom That is so cool how you are going beyond interpretation and bringing a hands-on element to connect people to the everyday lives and experiences of women​​!
    @Colleen Danz Thanks! That exhibit sounds great, and I hope everyone gets a chance to experience it soon!​

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    Jamesha Gibson
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  • 6.  RE: Contemplating Everyday Experiences

    Ambassador
    Posted 01-29-2019 13:38
    The Wisconsin Historical Society just scheduled this webinar "Interpreting Women at Historic Sites" for March that will add a lot to the discussion of this topic. It is open to all.

    Interpreting Women at Historic Sites

    Wednesday, March 27, 2019 1:30 - 3:00 pm CT

     

    Presented by Mary Van Balgooy, Executive Director, Society of Woman Geographers

    Although women are a crucial part of our heritage, historic sites often portray them as pleasant homemakers or radical feminists. Is this an accurate representation? No. Historians use many tools in interpreting history, and the tools used by present-day historians give the impression that men make history. However, by using a different set of tools to interpret women, a new narrative arises where women are just as active as men, participating in all facets of society and redefining history as we know it. In this presentation, Mary van Balgooy will discuss the state of the field of women's history; examine the current challenges and opportunities for interpreting women at historic sites; and give audience participants the right tools to research, uncover, and interpret women and their significance in history.

    https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/4536417146992253697

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    Tim Askin
    Milwaukee Historic Preservation Commission
    Milwaukee WI
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  • 7.  RE: Contemplating Everyday Experiences

    Posted 01-30-2019 12:50

     "Civilization is a stream with banks. The stream is sometimes filled with blood from people

    killing, stealing, shouting, and doing things historians usually record, while on the banks, unnoticed, people build homes, make love, raise children, sing songs, write poetry, and even whittle statues. The story of civilization is the story of what happened on the banks..."   Will Durant



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    Ginny MacKenzie-Magan
    Tomales CA
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