Intersection Austerlitz “Costume and Culture: Designs for Life”

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August 29, 2016

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Intersection Austerlitz “Costume and Culture: Designs for Life”

September 17 event sponsored by Spencertown Academy Arts Center, Austerlitz Historical Society, and Edna St. Vincent Millay Society at Steepletop

Spencertown, New York– Spencertown Academy Arts Center, in collaboration with the Austerlitz Historical Society and Edna St. Vincent Millay Society at Steepletop, presents the second annual Intersection Austerlitz regional celebration of art, literature, and history on Saturday, September 17 from 9:00am to 4:30pm. This year’s program, titled “Costume and Culture: Designs for Life,” focuses on the innovation, practicality, and creativity found in fashion and fabrics. The three organizations, which are located within minutes of each other, will jointly host workshops, exhibits, and demonstrations.

Advance-purchase $35 Passports for the day include all activities, workshops, and presentations at all three venues, plus morning coffee and snack, gourmet boxed lunch (which must be pre-ordered), and afternoon reception. Children under 12 participate for free and have the option to pre-order a $6 boxed lunch. Advance registration and lunch orders close on Wednesday, September 14. Day-of $35 Passports will be available at each venue; they include access to everything except boxed lunches. In addition, the various exhibitions will be open to the public for free during the hours noted below. To purchase tickets, go to the websites of any of the organizations: spencertownacademy.org, oldausterlitz.com, millay.org

The day of activities begins at 9:00am with a welcome at the new Austerlitz Town Hall in Spencertown, across from the Village Green, then moves to the Spencertown Academy, followed by a visit to Old Austerlitz (where participants are invited to have lunch on the grounds). The afternoon concludes at the Edna St. Vincent Millay Society at Steepletop.

At 10:00am at the Spencertown Academy Arts Center (790 State Route 203 in Spencertown), milliner Victoria DiNardo will lead a hands-on workshop to create a headband/mini-fascinator. She will show participants how to make a rosette and leaf trim to attach to a covered headband and then work with materials to make their own headpiece. Materials supplied will be a covered headband, ribbon, feathers, fabric flowers and netting, needles, thread, and glue. Attendees are welcome to bring any ornament or materials they may want to use to create their custom piece.

The Spencertown Academy galleries will showcase a three-part exhibition titled “Hats, Hats, and More Hats!,” featuring milliner Victoria DiNardo, opera costume designer Sarah Conly, and feather entrepreneur Elizabeth Walters. The exhibit will be open to the public for free on Saturday from 12:00 to 4:00pm and on Sunday, September 18 from 10:00am to 4:00pm.

Victoria DiNardo, a millinery designer located in Chatham, NY, will display a collection of hat making materials, including hat blocks, blocking supplies, felt and straw bodies, and hat finishings and trimmings to show the step-by-step process of making a hat from raw materials to finished product. There will be a selection of vintage hats to try on (and take home souvenir photos), plus a variety of new hats for sale from Victoria DiNardo Millinery. A selection of books and illustrations on millinery styles and techniques and a collection of vintage hatboxes will be on display as well.

The “Tanglewood Toppers” exhibit by costume designer Sarah Conly, from New Lebanon and NYC, will display a retrospective collection of millinery representing 30 years worth of operas produced at the Tanglewood Festival. Accompanying the hat exhibit will be costume sketches, photos, and descriptive anecdotes. Conly will be on hand to answer questions and share her process for these designs.

In the “Vintage Feathers and Hat Trims” exhibit, Austerlitz resident Elizabeth Walters will display a selection of some of the thousands of vintage feathers and trims dating back to the 1900s that she sells on her website to designers and collectors. There will also be a bin of items for sale. She will share her unusual story of how she came to own this inventory and to be in this business. Walters has been selling these fabulous trims since 1996 to a diverse group of top-notch milliners, costumers, craftspeople, fly tiers, artisans, and designers including the costumer/milliner for the Metropolitan Opera; the costumer for the TV show “Boardwalk Empire”; the costumers for the movies “The Hunger Games,” “Crimson Peak,” and the new “Wonder Woman” movie coming out in 2017; and to the world renowned milliner Philip Treacy, and more recently, the fashion house of Maison Martin Margiela. 

From 10:00am to 4:00pm at Old Austerlitz (11550 State Route 22 in Austerlitz), the Austerlitz Historical Society will present free demonstrations and exhibitions that are open to the public. Michelle Parrish will give ongoing demonstrations about the processing of flax, such as braking, scutching, and hetcheling. Antique tools and examples of flax fibers at different stages will be available for all to see. Parrish is a member of the New England Flax and Linen Study Group, and has been growing flax for over ten years. An educator, weaver, spinner, and plant-based dyer, she grows plants for fiber and dye, and documents her projects on her blog (localcolordyes.com). In addition, members of the Culley family and friends of the Society will be on-site throughout the day to demonstrate carding and spinning in wool, as well as how to use a drop-spindle.

On display in the Morey-Devereaux House will be exhibitions of wool and linen clothing, bedding, and artifacts from private area homes and from the collection of the Austerlitz Historical Society, along with an assortment of meticulously hand-sewn miniature dresses (approx. 18 inches tall), undergarments, and hats made of wool, linen, and other fabrics, including a replica of dresses worn by Angelica Van Buren and Abigail Adams. Visitors will be able to compare the finery donned by elite ladies of the 19th Century with the more humble wool and linen garments fashioned for the less-privileged women of the time. The latter items are on special loan from the Columbia County Historical Society – Patzwahl Collection.

At 1:00pm, the Austerlitz Historical Society will host a special one-hour presentation for Passport holders in the Morey-Devereaux Barn. Wearing period costume and speaking in the first person, Phyllis Chapman brings a distinguished American woman to life in her interactive presentation, “Lucy Larcom: A New England Mill Worker in the 19th Century.” Lucy Larcom, later to become a noted poet, abolitionist, and educator, began her working life in a New England textile factory in the 1830s. As a young mill worker, Lucy tells about the working and living conditions that many young farm girls experienced in the early days of America’s Industrial Revolution, as they hoped to make a better life for themselves. Using rear screen projection images, as well as props and hands-on activities for the audience, Chapman demonstrates the tasks involved in textile production, the development of mechanization, and the structure of a mill, which was perhaps the most significant “machine” invented by Americans. Chapman’s “Vintage Visitors” program introduces audiences to illustrious American women, through first-person narrative, stories, activities, costume and artifacts, to provide a richer understanding of our history and culture.

In addition, from 1:00 to 2:00pm, Jennifer Touchstone will lead a free “hands-on” wet-wool felting activity suitable for children, as well as interested adults. Using natural wool fiber, plus shaped river stones, participants will create colorful and non-scratch felted rock paperweights. Touchstone is a fiber artist and illustrator. She has most recently been focusing on needle-felted baby mobiles, which she sells through her online shop. She lives and works in Old Chatham.

Edna St. Vincent Millay Society at Steepletop will present an exhibition titled “Around The World: The Honeymoon-1924” from 10:00am to 4:00pm. The exhibit is free and open to the public. Poet Edna St. Vincent Millay married Eugen Jan Boissevain on July 23, 1923. Their subsequent eight-month honeymoon went from San Francisco to the Hawaiian Islands to Japan, China, Malaysia, Java, Burma, India, France, Holland, and finally back to New York. During this trip, they acquired an impressive collection of Asian artifacts. These treasures, along with original traveling documents and copies of her journal and correspondence to her family are on display in this exhibition. Also included is a recreation of their photo album documenting their travels and Millay’s gorgeous collection of Chinese silk kimonos.

At 2:30pm, Steepletop will welcome Sarah Parker, a Lecturer in English at Loughborough University in the UK. She will give a lecture to Passport holders about how Millay used fashion and photography to forge an iconic celebrity image. Edna St. Vincent Millay is sometimes called a “Rock Star” poet because she achieved celebrity status like no other poet of her time. Dr. Parker is the author of the article, “Publicity, Celebrity, Fashion: Photographing Edna St. Vincent Millay” (Women’s Studies, 45.4, 2016); she delivered a lecture on this topic at The Library of Congress in Washington, DC. Most of the items in Millay’s wardrobe still exist and a few of them will be showcased on the day of the talk. Following the lecture, refreshments will be served from 3:30pm to 4:30pm.

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