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Fashions from Sue Ann Genet Costume Collection to be exhibited at Gustav Stickley's Craftsman Farms

August 24, 2012

Erica Blust
(315) 443-5891

A new exhibition featuring fashions from Syracuse University’s Sue Ann Genet Costume Collection will allow visitors to Gustav Stickley’s Craftsman Farms in New Jersey to view the human form in the home as it may have looked from 1911-13 when the Gustav Stickley family was in residence.

stickley“Styling an American Family: The 1910s at Gustav Stickley’s Craftsman Farms” will be on view Sept. 8-Jan. 6 at the Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms, 2352 Route 10 West, Morris Plains, N.J. The exhibition will be accompanied by related educational programs and a full-day conference.

“Styling an American Family” will travel to the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse beginning in June 2013.

“The highly successful PBS series ‘Downton Abbey’ and the wide public awareness of the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic have both combined to build a strong interest in the lifestyles of this time period,” says Stickley Museum Executive Director Heather Stivison. “The opportunity to partner with Syracuse University on a high-quality 1910s-style exhibition came at the perfect time. This exhibition will appeal to a broad audience and will offer visitors a much deeper understanding of life at Craftsman Farms in the 1910s.”

Exhibition curator Jeffrey Mayer, associate professor and program coordinator of fashion design at SU’s College of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA), selected the garments in “Styling an American Family” from the fashion design program’s Sue Ann Genet Costume Collection, which he also curates. The exhibition features outfits arranged in eight environmental vignettes styled as moments frozen in time, with such themes as “Motoring,” “Music,” “Entertainment at Home” and “After the Party.”

The Sue Ann Genet Costume Collection was selected for the exhibition because it boasts an unusually large collection of garments and accessories from 1910-1915, and the majority of the pieces were purchased, made or worn in and around the Syracuse area, the location from which the Stickley family moved to Morris Plains in 1911.

“No clothing belonging to the Stickley family from this era seems to exist, nor do many reference photos of the family as a whole or in domestic settings within the farm, so therefore all details of the fashionable life at Craftsman Farms must be drawn from the few glimpses given in the extant photos and descriptions of everyday life as found in journal entries and newspaper clippings,” says Mayer, who especially relied on a scrapbook kept by Stickley’s daughter Marion. “The styles and types of clothing selected for this exhibition reflect an American family of comfortable means whose father was well known as an architect and internationally recognized as an arts movement leader.”

Mayer will give a curator’s lecture as part of the exhibition’s opening reception on Saturday, Sept. 8. He is also one of the speakers scheduled to appear at the conference “Styling an American Family: Tastemaking in the 1910s and Beyond,” which will be held on Saturday, Oct. 6, and will address the tastemakers who shaped and drove the development of what became a new and uniquely American style. Using the exhibition as a springboard, the conference panelists will consider the broader context—politically, socially, economically—in which American styles emerged.

In addition, VPA will be honored for its collaboration on the exhibition at the museum’s black-tie gala “Celebrating an American Style” on Saturday, Oct. 6. For more information about the exhibition, the opening reception, the conference and the gala, visit stickleymuseum.org.

The Sue Ann Genet Costume Collection is comprised of more than 1,500 women’s garments and accessories from 1820 to the present. The focus of the collection is women’s high fashion, and it includes examples of garments that are indicative of each era, are by well-known designers or were worn by notable women. For more information about the collection, contact Mayer at (315) 443-4644 or jcmayer@syr.edu.

Craftsman Farms is the former country estate of noted turn-of-the-century designer Gustav Stickley, a major proponent of the Arts and Crafts movement in decorative arts, home building and furnishing styles. He combined the roles of designer and manufacturer, architect, publisher, philosopher and social critic and is best known today for his straightforward furniture, sometimes called “mission” or “Craftsman” furniture. Although Stickley is credited with more than 200 home designs, Craftsman Farms is the only home he designed and built for his own use. Now operating as the Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms, the family home has been carefully restored to the period during which Stickley and his family lived there (1911-1917).

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