What is a Monthly Meetup?
Every month, the Stanley Campus Council hosts one event geared toward engaging the entire student body--undergraduate and graduate students of all majors and programs of study. These events vary in the proposed activity or focus, but all were designed by students for students, with a goal of encouraging UI students to visit the Stanley and familiarize themselves with its presence on campus. These events take place Thursday evenings, when the museum is open late, from 6 - 7:30 pm.
This month, we decided to focus on the ideas of sustainability and community. We felt these concepts were timely for a few reasons. Firstly, Thanksgiving occurs during the month of November--we wanted to nod at the ideas of thankfulness and coming together that we feel are at the root of that holiday. Everyone on campus has family and community on the mind at this point, whether they head back to homes across the state, country, or world to celebrate with their families, or if they stick around Iowa City to find a new community to celebrate the holiday with. And secondly, right after Thanksgiving comes Black Friday and the mad dash that is holiday shopping--a time in which a lot of us rush to buy and consume in ways that are potentially unsustainable.
SCC Food Drive to Benefit Food Pantry at Iowa
The first component of our event was a food and hygiene product drive! We chose to partner with the Food Pantry at Iowa, a student organization and free service created to benefit the campus community. The Food Pantry at Iowa aims to not only provide resources for food-insecure college students, faculty, and staff but also aims to raise awareness about the important issue of college food insecurity. By hosting hunger awareness events throughout the year like food drives, hunger banquets, and cooking demos, Food Pantry at Iowa is fighting for a change. Anyone on campus can get involved in the fight against food insecurity, regardless of their position. Together, the University of Iowa can make a change for the better.
So, for the entire month of November, the Stanley Campus Council set up a few bins and a sign in the Stanley Museum of Art lobby and encouraged visitors and community members to bring nonperishable goods as well as hygiene products to donate to the Food Pantry at Iowa.
November 10 Event
For our November event, we wanted to focus on sustainability. We identified our wardrobes as areas in which we could stand to be more sustainable--with cheap fast fashion in such high supply and marketed to us constantly, it's easy to throw away or give up on clothes we have that are either ripped or "out of style." In order to try and encourage students to, instead, fix up the clothes they already have (whether they're ripped/ broken or just no longer spark joy) by hosting a mending workshop!
For this event, we recruited MFA Candidate Lilah Ward Shepherd, at the School of Art and Art History, to lead a sashiko stitching and mending workshop. Sashiko is a type of traditional Japanese embroidery or stitching used for the decorative and/or functional reinforcement of cloth and clothing. We met with Lilah to go over the plan, and then purchased enough supplies for 20+ people to be able to mend or spiff up their broken or boring clothing. Lilah prepared a slideshow presentation and brought along a few books to teach about sashiko, its history, and the different applications of the technique for both functional and decorative purposes.
In addition to the mending workshop, we worked with collections staff to put out a display of garment and textile based art from the Stanley Museum of Art's collection. On display were a range of beautiful clothing and cultural garments: we had Dibul kouan (woman's beaded apron), a Mfengu Ingqosha (woman's collar), and a Yoruba Lawyer's wig, among others. One of our favorite works from this special display was the Mfengu Amaphoco (man's love letter) by Mamtolo Miya. Historically, these types of love letter necklace/ pendants were a declaration of love, handmade by a girl or woman and then given to her lover to wear, displaying their love for and commitment to one another. We also appreciated the delicate and detailed beadwork on the Assiniboin Mocassins, which seemed almost too beautiful to even think about wearing.
We hoped showing these works would encourage people to consider the cultural impact of clothing--how what you wear can have meaning and make a statement about you--as well as the labor that goes into garment creation, even if we as consumers are so removed from the labor of it in today's fast fashion market.
Despite the torrential downpour that took place most of the day, our event had a really great turnout--over 20 students (as well as a few members of the general public) showed up to consider sustainable garment practices and to learn from Lilah how to mend or embellish their clothing using some sashiko stitching techniques!
You can expect Monthly Meetups to happen... well, once a month! Follow us on Instagram to keep up to date with what we've got planned for each event, and check back here for photos and recaps on how these events went.
Did you attend this Monthly Meetup, or any other Monthly Meetup, and take pictures? Share them with us via email!
Bummed you missed this event? Keep an eye on our blog for an upcoming post that gives an in-depth tutorial on how you can mend or embellish your clothing with sashiko stitching methods.
If you're interested in learning more about any of the works listed in this recap, feel free to check out the Iowa Digital Library--you can find a significant portion of the Stanley's Collection on this online database. And if you see something online that sparks your interest and you'd like to check it out in person, you can fill out this form to request an object study. If you are a TA and want to theme one of your classes around certain works, this is also a great option! The Stanley's Academic Outreach Coordinator, Kathryn Reuter, would be happy to help get something scheduled for you: for more information, please visit this link.