Thursday, August 09, 2001

"Apron Strings: Ties to the Past" - Indiana Historical Society - Aug. 9, 2001 - 2 stars


One hundred aprons should demonstrate the shifting work roles of women and men over the century. Aprons traditionally have been tools of women's labor and consequently women's history, which is often overlooked - as it is in this exhibit. The aesthetic range of the apron collection is great, from ruffle-trimmed organdy and gathered tulle numbers of the to Aunt Bee bibbed styles. They hang too clustered together like campy flags of kitchen coats of arms. The collection reflects fashionable trends and some leisurely church bazaar creativity in the mid-century while overlooking most of the rest of the century (only a few examples from the early part of the 20th century are present) and is not representative of all female lifestyles. The opening exhibit script states, " Aprons are more than kitsch," and suggests ceremony and knuckle-bloody hard work, but does nothing to elaborate on how the apron, as a utilitarian protective garment, was an essential tool to the wife and unpaid domestic laborer. Kitsch is pushed in the collection and in the design of the small exhibition with its clumsy wire arched garden borders, suggesting a mythical happy whimsy. The few exhibit scripts slip sideways (you could crick your neck) in the clothespins that too cleverly hold them to the apron display forms. Women's history is represented with a much more discerning eye in other displays in the Exhibitions Gallery at the IHS. Through December 2, 2001. 317-232-1882. - Mary Lee Pappas

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