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Fashion museum opens ‘Knitting Beyond the Body’ exhibit

Kelsie Horner
“No Comfort” designed by faculty members Joanne Arnett and Archana Mehta displays a graph of mass shootings in the United States.
A dress, tube top and pants designed by Di Petsa from Knitwear Lab on a center is displayed inside the museum. (Kelsie Horner)

The Kent State University Museum opened the “Knitting Beyond the Body” exhibit in collaboration with the School Of Fashion Design and Merchandising.

The exhibit showcases the art of knitting in the 20th and 21st centuries and how knitting can be used for innovation, Museum Director Sarah Rogers said.

There are a number of amazing qualities of knitting,” she said. “It’s being used in architecture, in product design, and obviously in fashion and in kind of really dramatic ways. And it’s different from woven textiles in that with knitting. You can shape it as you make it, which means it’s a much more sustainable fabric to create.”

Rogers said the displays were designed to highlight the relationship between the KSU Museum and the School of Fashion.

“This is really unique in the country to have a museum and School of Fashion Design and Merchandising that were founded at the same time by the same donors alike,” she said. “That’s pretty unique, the fact that we also support each other in the research that we do and that the museum is an invaluable resource. Then we can showcase what happens over in the fashion school.”

The exhibit opened Sept. 29 with a large turnout featuring students, designers and donors. 

“There were a lot of people in and out – the whole area was full,” said Hanna Bailey, a museum employee and senior fashion merchandising major. 

The showcase consists of designs and garments that were hand-knit or machine and technical knitted, borrowed straight from the designers. Designs feature qualities such as medical device innovations or home decor items. 

One piece featured a sports bra with a built-in heart monitor created by Priority Designs, juxtaposing medical innovations with knitting.  

Bailey enjoyed the dress and outfit display created by designer Di Petsa in particular, she said.

“The use of the red makes the garments pop against the other pieces and the long knit skirt looks comforting and flattering for the fall,” she said. “The silhouettes are a perfect mix of timeless and trendy.” 

Another design consisted of a dress hand-knit by faculty members Joanne Arnett and Archana Mehta, titled “No Comfort.” 

The dress features an abstract chart of mass shootings in U.S. history, beginning with the Columbine shooting of 1999.

“It’s a very powerful way in which to try and comprehend that period of time,” Rogers said. “ I love when designers are also using it for their social activism.”

Following the opening, the museum hopes to draw attention to the research completed at the School of Fashion and present further collaborations. 

“From the museum’s perspective, we’re going to continue to find ways in which to collaborate,” Rogers said. “I try to listen to the students and kind of, what they’re interested in and what the faculty is doing. And so does our curator so we can develop projects.”

Rogers also hopes to see an increase in student attendance at the museum.

“I just hope everybody will come and see it,” she said. “We always remind students it’s free.”

The KSU Museum is located at 515 Hilltop Drive and is open to the public Tuesday through Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays noon to 4 p.m.  “Knitting Beyond the Body” will be on display until August 2024. 

Kelsie Horner is a reporter. Contact her at [email protected]

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About the Contributor
Kelsie Horner, Assistant Managing Editor
Kelsie is a senior journalism major with a minor in communications. In her three semesters at KentWired, she has served as a Digital Tech, Digital Editor and Assistant Managing Editor.
Contact her at [email protected].

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