In the autumn of last year, I was contacted by a New York University professor from the Liberal Studies department named Jessamyn Hatcher. She had gotten my email address from our mutual friend Sally Singer and wanted to know if we would be willing to discuss a field trip that she was planning with her 30+ students from the Dean’s Circle, a University Scholars program.
Her email explained that the “theme for the 2010-2011 Dean’s Circle and Colloquium is ‘The Price of Fashion: The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire and the Global Garment Trade.’ The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire occurred on March 25, 1911, in what is now the Brown building. 146 people, most of who were between the ages of 16 and 21, died while manufacturing women’s blouses. Next year will mark its 100th anniversary, and we will use the anniversary as an occasion to explore issues surrounding the world garment trade, from mass production in sweatshops to the runways of the world’s fashion capitols to the ‘slow design’ movement.”
While I was fascinated by Jessamyn’s inquiry, in the first moment I wondered how a workshop could function with 30+ students in our studio. My fears were unfounded.
Several weeks ago, the group arrived and the experience was one of wonder, exploration and pleasure. Following a two day workshop in our studio, the students moved on to Rural Studio in Greensboro, Alabama, to continue their journey.
Jessamyn joked at one point how many of her colleagues had asked, “Why aren’t you going to Paris?”
The lovely thank you notes from the (18 – 20 year-old) students below explains it all. I hope that the students don’t mind that I have shared their observations about our world. I am appreciative to look at our work, our staff and our world through fresh eyes.
(And to have found a new friend in Jessamyn!)