MORRIS PLAINS, NJ.-
An exhibition featuring fashions from Syracuse Universitys Sue Ann Genet Costume Collection allows visitors to Gustav Stickleys Craftsman Farms
to view the human form in the home as it may have looked from 1911-13 when the Gustav Stickley family was in residence.
Styling an American Family: The 1910s at Gustav Stickleys Craftsman Farms is on view through Jan. 7 at the Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms, 2352 Route 10 West, Morris Plains, N.J.
The highly successful PBS series, Downton Abbey, and the wide public awareness of the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic have both combined to build a strong interest in the lifestyles of this time period, says Stickley Museums executive director Heather Stivison. The opportunity to partner with Syracuse University on a high-quality 1910s style exhibition came at the perfect time. This exhibition appeals to a broad audience and offers visitors a much deeper understanding of life at Craftsman Farms in the 1910s.
Exhibition curator Jeffrey Mayer, an associate professor and program coordinator of fashion design at SUs College of Visual and Performing Arts, selected the garments in Styling an American Family from the fashion design programs Sue Ann Genet Costume Collection, which he also curates. The exhibition features outfits arranged in eight environmental vignettes styled as moments frozen in time, with such themes as Motoring, Music, Entertainment at Home and After the Party.
The Sue Ann Genet Costume Collection was selected for the exhibition because it boasts an unusually large collection of garments and accessories from 1910-1915, and the majority of the pieces were purchased, made or worn in and around the Syracuse, N.Y. area, the location from which the Stickley family moved to Morris Plains in 1911.
No clothing belonging to the Stickley family from this era seems to exist, nor do many reference photos of the family as a whole or in domestic settings within the farm, so therefore all details of the fashionable life at Craftsman Farms must be drawn from the few glimpses given in the extant photos and descriptions of everyday life as found in journal entries and newspaper clippings, says Mayer, who especially relied on a scrapbook kept by Stickleys daughter Marion. The styles and types of clothing selected for this exhibition reflect an American family of comfortable means whose father was well known as an architect and internationally recognized as an arts movement leader.
The Sue Ann Genet Costume Collection is comprised of more than 1,500 womens garments and accessories from 1820 to the present. The focus of the collection is womens high fashion, and it includes examples of garments that are indicative of each era, are by well-known designers or were worn by notable women.
Craftsman Farms is the former country estate of noted turn-of-the-century designer Gustav Stickley, a major proponent of the Arts and Crafts movement in decorative arts, home building and furnishing styles. He combined the roles of designer and manufacturer, architect, publisher, philosopher and social critic and is best known today for his straightforward furniture, sometimes called mission or Craftsman furniture. Although Gustav Stickley is credited with over 200 home designs, Craftsman Farms is the only home he designed and built for his own use. Now operating as the Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms, the family home has been carefully restored to the period during which Stickley and his family lived there (1911-1917).
Craftsman Farms was established by Gustav Stickley during the Progressive Era, a period in American history brimming with innovation and social change. Innovators and game-changers of this era, such as Theodore Roosevelt, Henry Ford, the Wright Brothers, William Randolph Hearst, Upton Sinclair, Sigmund Freud, and Albert Einstein, led the way across a spectrum of fields with transformative ideas that would make this era a direct precursor to our modern world. American style and style-makers of the early 20th century kept pace with the world around them, mirroring the rapid pace of innovation and change, but tastemakers, like Stickley, also sought to drive change. Throughout the Progressive Era these tastemakers worked to steer the American aesthetic and shape it into an identifiable American style. The exhibition, set within the context of the Log House at Craftsman Farms, shines a light on this unique period in American history.