Old Domestic Tools Reworked to Reflect on Women’s History

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"Mirror Mirror" by Alison Saar.
"Mirror Mirror" by Alison Saar.
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The Housatonic Museum of Art in Bridgeport, Connecticut is pleased to announce ‘Reimagining the Distaff Toolkit’, an exhibition that explores household tools as metaphor for the social and cultural histories of women embedded in them. ‘Reimagining the Distaff Toolkit’ will be on view in the Burt Chernow Galleries at the Housatonic Museum of Art from September 6 through October 26.

 

Rickie Solinger, an award-winning author, historian and curator, reexamines women’s history by positioning tools used in a domestic setting as the “fulcrum for a contemporary work of art.”

 

Solinger received the Prelinger Award from The Coordinating Council of Women in History for her book, Beggars and Choosers: How the Politics of Choice Shapes Abortion, Adoption and Welfare in the United States and has written and edited numerous works about abortion,feminism, poverty, and welfare.  She is well-known for organizing art installations and traveling exhibitions that focus on women’s issues and history.

 

The term “distaff” itself refers not only to the tool attached to a spinning wheel to hold unspun fibers, but over time, came to refer to women generally.

 

“Mattoon 8″ by Debra Priestly.

“The artists in this exhibit place these old tools at the center of their own work: washboard, a dressmaker’s dummy, graters, doilies, an advice book, cooking pans, a basket, a garden hoe, dress patterns, a rolling pin, buckets, darning eggs, a work glove, a needle threader, rug beaters, ironing boards, mason jars and a telephone,” Solinger explains.

 

The term “distaff” itself refers not only to the tool attached to a spinning wheel to hold unspun fibers, but over time, came to refer to women generally.   “Many of these old tools facilitated….repetitive labor and evoke the various cultural histories of women’s unpaid, often diminished and disrespected status within the household and society,” Solinger points out. ”But in the 21st century, at a moment when ‘old tools’ have become aestheticized and expensive, we can look again and see their costly beauty.”

 

Twenty-eight artists are represented in this show, including Betye and Alison Saar, Lisa Alvarado, Dave Cole, Judy Hoyt, Larry Ruhl, Flo Oy Wong, and Debra Priestly, to name a few.
 

The Housatonic Museum of Art is located at 900 Lafayette Blvd, in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

 

Burt Chernow Galleries hours are Monday through Friday from 8:30am until 5:30pm; Thursday until 7pm; Saturday from 9am until 3pm; and Sunday from noon until 4pm.

 

For additional information and directions,visit the Housatonic Museum of Art’s website at HousatonicMuseum.org.

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