Rocking with Jane Addams
By Susan Eleuterio
Folklorist, Educator, Activist
Many Chicagoans know the name “Hull House,” but more should know about Jane Addams herself; peace activist, community organizer, philosopher, partner to Ellen Gates Starr and to an enormous range of people from immigrants and refugees to local community residents, from working men who boarded at the Settlement house she founded on Halsted Street to suffragettes who marched for the right for women to vote, from people who arrived in Chicago with only the clothes on their back to some of the most famous leaders of her time.
In addition to possessing the drive, the charisma, and the sheer will (and to be fair, access to economic resources), uncharacteristic for women of her time, she had a wonderful sense of the importance of creating a home, a welcoming space in the heart of the city. Embodying the spirit of the famous poem by Emma Lazarus at the base of the Statue of Liberty: “give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breath free…” Addams made Hull House a refuge and a comfortable place to live for numerous Chicagoans on the rapidly changing west side.
One of the pieces of that home which has survived urban renewal and the massive changes of the last century is a warm and complicated artifact; a rocking chair. Like Hull House and Jane Addams, the chair is linked with ghost stories, urban legends, and personal belief systems of a series of museum employees and curators, and now you, the reader of this piece.
Also like Jane Addams, the chair is a hybrid- a mix
Rocking itself has so many connotations-in American popular and folk culture-“the rock of ages”- “rocking the boat”-“ rock on!”- And even with the myriad of musical styles these days- “rock” (aka “rock and roll” (classic, light, etc) is still short hand for contemporary music. Jane was a woman who chose to rock many boats in the name of social justice and peace, and while we can no longer literally rock in her chair, there is something magical about considering this object as symbolic of her work and its legacy in the great city of Chicago.
Contributor: PJ Humphries
Bio: PJ Humphries has been with the Neighborhood Writing Alliance since 2006. She is a community member of the University of Chicago’s Civic Knowledge Project, a volunteer Medical Advocate for survivors of rape with the YWCA, and a former facilitator for Healing Racism.
Artifact definition 1a
something created by humans
usually for a practical purpose
especially: an object remaining from a particular time
Something created by humans
Pyramids tools engravings
Ceramics glasswork woodwork
Songs dance paintings
Myths legends narratives
Usually for a practical purpose
Conditioning fundamental human rights
Personal empowerment societal empowerment
Human creativity permanence
Beneficial insights perspectives
Especially an object remaining from a particular period
Romola a preserved artifact
A shared reading among culturally diverse groups (on)
Mondays at Hull House during
A century of fragile cultural integration
Intermingling interpretations of unwritten laws
A Religion of Humanity
18th century lesson plan
20th century dissemination
Artifacts “make history live again before our eyes”
Contributor: Daniel Sanchez
Bio: Born in Mexico City, Daniel was brought to Chicago a few months before he was 2 years old. His mother raised him and his two siblings, in Pilsen and in shelters in and around Chicago. Undocumented for almost 20 years, Daniel is now a recipient of DACA that allows him to legally work. Daniel is an Art Teacher at Marwen, a Student-Peer Advisor at Harold Washington where he attends as a full time. He hopes to one day transfer back to SAIC and finish his degree and continue teaching art.
Contribution: Being a ceramic artist, I was excited to respond to a ceramic artifact that was made by a child nearly a century ago. When I learned that Hull-House Settlement teachers would take their students to the zoo, I decided to include a trip to the Lincoln Park Zoo as my response.
I go to the zoo at least once every year, but I have never gone before with the intention to be inspired to create an art piece. Once I got there, I went directly to where the giraffes usually are, hoping they would be outside. They were. I was imagining what it would have been like for those kids in the 1920’s to see a giraffe for their very first time. Were there two giraffes back then? Or was there only one giraffe and that is why there is only one giraffe drawn on the saucer? I had forgotten how elegant and tall giraffes are. I studied them for a long while. I decided they are calm, gentle, and delicate animals. I chose to create a ceramic plate and draw two giraffes on it. Since my favorite thing about giraffes is their patterned coat, I carved a subtle giraffe pattern on my plate.
This was my first attempt at drawing an animal on my ceramic piece and it has sparked a desire to draw more animals on ceramic pieces. Time to go take another trip to the zoo!
Contributor: Corinne Mucha
Bio: Corinne Mucha is a Chicago based cartoonist, illustrator, and teaching artist. She grew up in southern New Jersey and studied illustration at RISD. Her comics work includes the Xeric funded “My Alaskan Summer,” the Ignatz award winning “The Monkey in the Basement and Other Delusions” (Retrofit Comics), and the YA graphic novel “Freshman: Tales of 9th Grade Obsessions, Revelations and Other Nonsense” (Zest Books). Relevant/ irrelevant interests include: glitter, houseplants, chocolate, bad puns, running, small plastic horses, and glow-in-the-dark stars.
Contribution: TO COME
Contributor: Anne Innis Dagg
Contribution: Giraffe and the Brookfield Zoo
Wow! I was amazed when I saw my first giraffe long ago at the Brookfield Zoo. Its neck was so long, even longer than its legs! It leaned over the fence to welcome me, gazing down at me with its bright eyes. When a workman nearby dropped his shovel with a clatter, it startled my giraffe and another in the paddock so that they cantered to the far wall, their necks rocking back and forth as they moved.
After a few minutes, one began feeding from a container attached high on the wall, its long dark tongue pulling leaves into its mouth. The other one was chewing its cud, food that it had swallowed earlier and regurgitated. Both watched me with friendly expressions. I thought that the giraffe was certainly the most beautiful and interesting animal in the world!
Giraffe became a passion for me that has lasted my whole long life. Because almost nothing was known about giraffe in the wild, I studied biology at university so I could rectify this. Each summer I worked to earn money to this end. After graduation, I sailed to London and from London to South Africa. There, after buying a second hand car, I drove 1000 miles to a cattle ranch that was also home to 95 giraffe. For six months, 10-hours a day, I watching all their activities. When my scientific report on this work was published, hundreds of people expressed interest.
I decided to write a book about giraffe which entailed such things as writing to countries in Africa to ask how many giraffe they had, their distribution, and which of the nine different races they belonged to; photographing the walk and gallop of giraffe (they do not trot) and analyzing these gaits and those of other animals for my PhD thesis; describing the behavior of giraffe in zoos; and studying the role of the neck in the life of giraffe. The book, written with a colleague, was published in 1976 and, when it sold out, updated in 1982.
In 2006 I wrote a book about my 1950s adventure, Pursuing Giraffe, which later put me in touch with the International Association of Giraffe Care Professions. Members of this group awarded me a Pioneer Trophy in 2010, a wonderful tribute. Their interest inspired me to write another scientific book on giraffe incorporating new research and emphasizing the need to conserve this species whose numbers are being decimated in Africa because of poaching for food. This book, Giraffe: Biology, Behaviour and Conservation, has just been published.
Contributor: Froilan Landeros, The Recyclery Collective
Bio: “The Recyclery Collective seeks to build community through the restoration of donated and discarded bicycles. We share resources and knowledge in order to support an affordable, independent, and sustainable mode of transportation. In this spirit of education and mutual aid, we encourage discussion about how our transportation choices affect the health of our communities and our environment.”
Froilan is a bicycle advocate and a collective member of The Recyclery Collective in Rogers Park, Chicago. Throughout his many years with The Recyclery, he has taught courses in bicycle maintenance and repair that have empowered countless people by giving them the tools necessary to maintain a sustainable and active life.
(expanded bio/intro to come from Nick Rigger?)
The Recyclery Collective: Complete Overhaul 101
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Introduction written by Nick Rigger:
Froilan Landeros along with other members of The Recyclery Collective developed a 6 week bike overhaul syllabus complete with diagrams and text explain the ins and outs of repairing and maintaining your bicycle.
Many underserved populations benefit from the resources provided by The Recyclery Collective. Which “creates opportunities for people of all backgrounds to work, share, and learn together”. The bike overhaul syllabus is, in many ways, a contemporary version of a blueprint for a loom. It empowers the beholder and provides the steps necessary to live a self-sustaining and fully enriching life.
Contributor: Jane Patrick
Bio: “As a craftsperson, I know that the tools I use help me practice the craft I love. Every time I weave, I’m always thinking of the design of a loom and how to make a better product.” – Jane Patrick
Jane Patrick is the Creative Director of Schacht Spindle Company in Boulder, Colorado, where she designs looms and spinning wheels— the tools that make it possible for others to weave and spin. In this interview, Jane discusses the history of her business and what is most meaningful about her work.
For Jane, making the tools for creative work is an art in itself. She believes that the quality of textiles depends on the quality of the loom used to make them, so she puts great care into designing looms that work flawlessly. She also crafts tutorials and workshop materials that, like the loom blueprint in the Hull House collection, provide a pattern for others to follow or creatively depart from in the process of making.
What is the history behind your loom-making business?
The company was started in 1969 by Barry (my husband who I met in 1979—well after the business had become a mature company) and Dan Schacht. This was during the days of the back-to-the-earth movement and the increasing interest in hand craft, particularly weaving and spinning. Dan had a girlfriend who wanted to learn to spin and they all went in search of someone who could give a spinning lesson. They found Louise Green of Greentree Ranch Wools in Loveland, CO, who taught spinning. While visiting the ranch, Louise asked Barry if they would like to make some drop spindles for her.
Barry and Dan took on the commission and in the process started a business. At first, because they had no equipment or money, they made some prototypes at the University wood shop where Dan was a student. Later, they worked with a religious commune to manufacture their growing number of products. A few years later, the brothers opened their own manufacturing facility in Boulder.
During these early years, to encourage sales of their products, they organized classes through the Boulder free school, opened a retail shop to expand teaching as well as to support the craft with tools and materials, and took trips around the country selling their looms to yarn shops.
When did you first become interested in looms, and how did you meet Barry?
In 1971, I spent a year in Iceland as an exchange student. As part of the year, I was fortunate to be able to spend 6 weeks in a home economics school where I learned traditional textile crafts, including weaving. When I first saw the looms in the room, I was immediately love-struck and knew that weaving was something I must do.
After returning home, I wasn’t able to find a place to learn to weave until after I had graduated from college and moved to Boulder. Here I found the Weaving and Spinning Shop, owned at that time by Barry and his brother. This is where I really learned to weave and realized that I wanted weaving to be my life’s work.
I met Barry at the weaving shop in 1979, and we were married in 1981. Just prior to marrying, I started working at Interweave Press as an editor for books and magazines. I was there until 1992. After leaving Interweave, I stayed home for a few years with our young daughter and then joined Barry in the business as sales manager. I’m currently the creative director and also involved in writing how-to books about weaving, as well as giving workshops and lectures as time allows.
The back-to-earth movement in the 1970s was important to your company from the beginning. How has the current DIY movement affected your business?
We saw a renewed interest in crafts around 2000. I think part of this had to do with people wanting to be involved with something they could touch, make with their hands. Just like the arts and crafts movement that rose up in response to the industrial revolution, this new DIY movement seems in some ways a direct response to our increasingly computerized world.
People want, at some basic level, to make something tangible with their hands. Weaving, along with other types of handwork like knitting and spinning, are crafts that people (especially women) are seeking out. This new resurgence has inspired us to develop new products that make entry into the craft easy and affordable. That’s why we created our Flip and Cricket rigid heddle looms which are so friendly and accessible.
What inspires you about making the tools for others weave and spin?
As a craftsperson, I know that the tools I use help me practice the craft I love. If the tool is beautiful, it makes the experience all the more enjoyable. Every time I weave, I’m always thinking of the design of a loom and how to make a better product. Our goal as a company, and for both my husband and myself, is to make looms that are aesthetically pleasing, work for the intended purpose, and are a pleasure to use. We are constantly working to improve what we do and to honor the crafts of weaving and spinning as best we can. This is what inspires us and makes our work so satisfying.
What is most meaningful to you about the textile arts community?
First, I love being a part of the weaving and spinning community. For me, this is the view through which I see the world. It influences what I do, how I think, my friends, and what I do for both my livelihood and my hobby. I feel incredibly lucky to live my life in such a passionate way.
Additionally, weaving connects me to so many people all over the world, as well as across time. When I see a piece of handspun, hand-woven cloth in a museum, I feel connected to those artisans who so long ago made lasting textiles with rudimentary tools that are impressive by any standard. In all aspects of my life, cloth connects me to other makers. When I wear a hand-woven scarf made by a friend, for example, I always think of her. It’s not just a scarf I bought at the store; it is fabric hand crafted by someone close to me.
Contributor: Becka Rahn
Bio: Becka Rahn is a computer geek, artist, and award-winning designer. Her fiber art work includes original designs and manipulated photographs that are digitally printed onto fabric. She has co-authored a book on digital fabric design with Spoonflower which will be released in Spring 2015. She has been a project contributor to several sewing and craft books and online
publications, and also works as the director of education at the Textile Center (www.textilecentermn.org), where she has taught and developed fiber art curriculum for more than 10 years. She lives in Minneapolis, MN with her husband and two black labs. You can see her work and more at www.beckarahn.com.
Sashay, 2014 (NEED TO SCAN IMAGE)
Linen/cotton fabric with vintage sequins
Digitally printed from an original illustration, hand beaded
with the following artist’s statement:
When I was invited to respond to the fringed sash in the Jane Addams Hull-House collection, I found it was an intriguing study in contrasts and commonalities. Digital vs traditional, practical vs decorative, connected vs anonymous.
The original sash has many mysteries. Who made it? What was its purpose? What is its story? Reading about the history of Hull-House, I can imagine a room full of makers learning to weave, stitch, and embroider and sharing their knowledge and cultural traditions with one another. Perhaps this piece was made as a learning project or for a celebration? A collaboration of many artists or a single maker? Looking closely, the sash incorporates many different skills, from hand-woven fabric to tiny beaded trim, traditional techniques done by hand with much patience and skill. It has made its home at the museum as a representation of that long ago community.
Today, I work at another art center, which in many ways has similar goals to the Hull-House of the turn of the century. We help provide a community through teaching, sharing and advocating for fiber art, but we embrace techniques and technology that was not even imagined in the early part of the century. The surface design for my Sashay skirt was created entirely digitally, as an illustration influenced by the texture and colors of the original sash. It was printed with pigment inks directly on to the fabric. My “collaborations” were all digital; the photos of the sash emailed to me for inspiration and the design files transmitted through the web for printing. The design on the back facing of the skirt has my website address, so that the piece never becomes anonymous.
In the craft world, there is a revolution going on right now, centered around the ideas of making your own clothing and creating things sustainably by hand. So many of our day-to-day experiences are presented digitally or virtually, that the idea of creating something physical and tactile with your hands is interesting and exciting. Instead of choosing the object of mass appeal, you can create something that speaks to you personally and artistically. Just like new immigrants looked to Hull-House to learn practical skills and to be part of a community, this generation is interested in those same goals and I hope as a teacher and an artist that I can help lead the way.
Artifact: Rocking Chair
Contributor: Michael Walton and Colleen Keihm
Contribution: TO COME— drawing from Colleen Keihm diagramming observations by Michael Walton about the chair’s construction.
Artifact: Milk Bottle
Contributor: Leslie Speicher
Bio: Leslie Speicher is the owner of Chicago Glass Collective in Chicago, IL, where she teaches and makes her work. No matter what she is making, Leslie aspires to create pieces with unique character, which are thought-provoking and visually pleasing. Leslie’s interest in exploring materials leads her to create narratives between design, texture, and color.
Contribution: IMAGE TO COME— fused-glass sculpture with screen printing and decal transfer
Artifact: Milk Bottle
Contributor: Breha Patterson
Bio: Breha Patterson, formerly of Illinois, lives in Saint Catharine’s, Ontario, Canada where she is the manager of the Mennonite Central Committee Ontario (MCCO) E-Thrift Store, which sells a wide range of antique and vintage items— including the Thatcher Milk Bottle.
The MCCO’s religious roots are integral to its mission of doing peace and justice work. They use the income from the vintage items they sell to fund disaster relief and humanitarian projects both locally and globally.
Contribution: REFLECTION ESSAY
On vintage objects and their significance:
There’s a sense of mystery involved with any item from a long ago era. One can’t help but wonder who it belonged to and what it was used for. Was it a cherished item? One of great sentimental value? Or perhaps it was just something used in day to day life. There’s also a sense of connection with the past when you see certain vintage items. Perhaps one remembers canning with Mom or Grandma. Or you remember stories from your family history regarding the dinner parties and dances from a by-gone era. These are the things that draw me to vintage items. Who doesn’t like a bit of mystery and strong sense of connection to his/her past? I also think that as we have shipped more and more jobs overseas, North Americans are longing for a piece of the past. When things were made well. When things were made to last. It’s a beautiful mix of history and mystique. We weren’t there, but we’ve read the books or listened to the stories that have been passed down through generations, and we want to hold onto a piece of that. Or perhaps it’s even more than that— perhaps we long to be connected with our past. We long to find that mixing bowl that reminds us of Grandma. But then we want to find the cookie-cutters that we used to use. And when we use these items, it makes us feel good—nostalgia makes us smile. And before we know it, there are more memories and we want a physical connection to them.
On selecting and researching vintage items:
Any thrift store is a perfect place to find a plethora of vintage items and/or clothing. But I’ve found that I have to be pretty particular about what I’m willing to accept. There is always a fair bit of time spent on research. For instance, what are vintage/antique websites promoting? What items are doing well in our bricks and mortar silent auction? What items sell within days of being posted on our Etsy shop? Is there a sense of nostalgia that comes with this item? Is it just so unique that I can’t say no? Almost every item is researched as there are great reproductions out there. We also take great pride in being authentic and want to make sure that what we say we’re selling is really what we’re selling. What I really love is when a volunteer donates an item and we’re able to get his/her history with that item. We’ve had a Pyrex mixing bowl donated that belonged to someone’s mother-in-law. It was part of the original Pyrex multi-colored mixing bowl set from the 1940s. I also found a shoe horn and bucket hook. When I checked the stamps on it, I realized that it is from 1848! I could go on and on, but you can just check out our Etsy shop.
Contributor: Alaric Rokko Jans
Bio: Alaric Rokko Jans is a distinguished composer from the Chicago area. He has composed several film scores and frequently composes for the Chicago Shakespeare Theater. Mr. Jans also wrote several songs that are featured on the record from the Hull House Association’s Art and Music Camp in 1968.
Contribution: INTERVIEW by Aaron Fruehauf (Rachel Glass is transcribing)
Contributor: Pamela Olson
Bio: Pamela Olson is an MFA candidate in Book Arts at the University of Iowa Center for the Book, from which she received a graduate certificate in 2008. She has been making artists books for over ten years, and her work is housed in the collections of the Newberry Library and the Rhode Island School of Design, among others.
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