Sponsored locally by Goodwill Industries of Greater Cleveland and East Central Ohio, Inc.
The traveling exhibition Thrift Style opens in the Keller Gallery at the McKinley Presidential Library & Museum on Thursday, February 3 during regular business hours. This exhibition offers a snapshot of 20th century domestic life, when recycling was as critical as it is today, and it provides one of the best examples of upcycling in our nation’s history. The exhibition is sponsored locally by Goodwill Industries of Greater Cleveland and East Central Ohio, Inc., who will be showcasing items from their retail stores in a section of the Keller Gallery.
Thrift Style explores the reuse of feed sacks to make clothing and other household objects and illuminates how the “upcycling” of these bags mutually benefited twentieth-century consumers and businesses. With forty-one works from patterns to garments, it serves as an example of past ingenuity that can inform today’s efforts towards sustainability.
The exhibition, organized by the Historic Costume and Textile Museum and the Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art, both located at Kansas State University, provides a nostalgic view into American ingenuity, sensibility, and optimism during a particularly challenging time of economic hardship and war—the period of the Great Depression and World War II. The reuse of feed, flour, and sugar sacks was a cost-saving and resource-saving approach employed by homemakers to make new items to meet their families’ needs.
In the 1920s and ‘30s, manufacturers began producing patterned and colored feed sacks to give home seamstresses more options. During World War II, the federal government limited fabric use for individual garments and homemakers were obligated to use thrifty approaches to repurpose what was available to them. As fabrics from feed sacks were not considered a limited resource, women turned to them as an accessible and patriotic option during the war effort. In response, trade organizations and manufacturers promoted the thrifty use of feed sack fabric by publishing how-to brochures and booklets with clothing designs, mending instructions, and other suggestions for restyling clothes.
The artifacts in the exhibition demonstrate a mutual goal of sustainability, with local businesses— mills and feed and seed operations—tailoring product design and marketing campaigns to attract customers; and consumers using their imaginations and practical skills to tailor clothing, aprons, quilts, dolls, and more out of the industry’s byproduct: feed sack cotton. The exhibition will be on view through March 10.
Exhibition Related Programming
February 12 • 1:00 PM • $10
Keen on crafts? Want to learn how to upcycle? It’s a re-use world! Learn how you can turn everyday materials into useful tools and décor! Goodwill experts will provide hands on demonstrations and DIY tips and techniques on upcycling. Upcycled project will change depending on availability of resources and season. Cost includes admission to the Museum. Reservations required.
Thrift Shopping 101
February 22 • Virtual Program • 7:00 PM • FREE
Shopping for second hand clothes can bring value and fun to your shopping experience. Learn some basic techniques to use during your first (or next) thrift shopping trip. Save money and score big treasures! Reservations required. Link will be sent before program.
AT A GLANCE
Exhibition: Thrift Style
Host Organization: McKinley Presidential Library & Museum
Runs: February 3 – March 10, 2022
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Location: 800 McKinley Monument Dr NW, Canton OH 44708
Admission: $10 for adults, $9 for seniors, $8 for children 3-18
Contact: 330-455-7054 • www.McKinleyMuseum.org
This exhibition is toured by ExhibitsUSA, a national program of Mid-America Arts Alliance. ExhibitsUSA sends more than twenty-five exhibitions on tour to over 100 small- and mid-sized communities every year. These exhibitions create access to an array of arts and humanities experiences, nurture the understanding of diverse cultures and art forms, and encourage the expanding depth and breadth of cultural life in local communities. For more about ExhibitsUSA, email [email protected] or visit www.eusa.org.
About Mid-America Arts Alliance
Mid-America Arts Alliance (M-AAA) strengthens and supports artists, cultural organizations, and communities throughout our region and beyond. Additional information about M-AAA is available at www.maaa.org.