The Fashion Archives opened their new exhibit, “Remember, Celebrate, Thrive: 150 Years of Fashion at Shippensburg University” on Friday, Oct. 22nd at the Davis House. The exhibit coincided with Shippensburg’s homecoming weekend and celebrates generations of alumni, different facets of the university and, of course, fashion.
This exhibit celebrates all parts of Shippensburg fashion, and shows not only how the school has developed, but how the university has come into its own through how its students and faculty express themselves. Self-expression is an incredibly important aspect of a person’s life and how they fit into society, yet fashion is not always covered in history classes. The Fashion Archives preserve this vital part of local history. “It’s a really cool place to come and learn,” Lonna June Anderson, a student intern, said. The 150th Anniversary display is separated by subject and covers campus activities and changes to the school.
Sections include ‘Logomania,’ which covers SU’s various name and mascot changes since its conception, ‘The Sporting Life,’ highlighting student athletes through the decades, ‘School & Class Spirit,’ which depicts freshman rites of passage that are no longer practiced today, ‘Leadership,’ where clothing worn by important figures on campus (such as Mr. and Mrs. Seavers, Harry Kriner and Jesse Heiges) are displayed and more. The collection includes pieces from as far back as 1896, using the clothing to tell larger stories about the university’s development and place in the larger scope of history.
The exhibit also encouraged alumni to return and reminisce. Alumni in the exhibition space laughed about the freshman ‘dinks’ and ‘frosh beanies,’ recalling the freshman traditions that are no longer in practice today. This experience depicts how history is a living and breathing thing. “I worked on the head for this military [mannequin,]” Peyton Bramble, a senior intern, said, “and [the woman who wore the uniform] was actually just here an hour ago.”
“Remember, Celebrate, Thrive” has also brought together many members of the campus and community in the process of its installment. The displays were put together by Karin J. Bohleke the Fashion Archives director, Christy Fic the archivist and Special Collections librarian, student workers and interns, community volunteers, graduate students under Bohleke, and Professor Kim van Alkemade’s creative nonfiction writing class.
The graduate assistants and interns at the Fashion Archives note the value of what they have put together, and their love for their craft shows in the exhibit’s precision and detail. A lot of work goes into preserving history and presenting it in a visually appealing manner. “That’s one of the advantages of being here,” Alex Torchio, a grad student, said, “you get exposed to so many aspects of installing an exhibit and you truly gain a respect for all that goes into this.” Torchio has been working with the Archives for about three years and encourages students to get involved and volunteer if they are interested in museum work. “There’s really not one part of it that’s my favorite, it’s just kind of everything encompassing the exhibit,” Torchio added.
“I feel like we all kind of do a little bit of everything,” Kayla Feely, a senior history student, continued. Feely is a history an interdisciplinary arts major and has been a part of the Fashion Archives for almost three years where she is grateful for her connections and opportunities. “We’ve been doing tablet weaving when we’re not busy, and last year we did yarn spinning,” Lonna June Anderson remembers, “You learn a lot more than just the books.”
The exhibit will be on display until Thursday, Dec. 9th. The Fashion Archives is located just off campus, near Stone Ridge and College Park, and is open Monday through Thursday from 12p.m. to 4p.m. A visit is $5 for adults and free to Shippensburg students, faculty and staff with a valid university ID.