It was trip down the kitchens of memory lane for visitors of the Fort Smith Regional Art Museum on Thursday (Jan. 29) as the organization debuted its newest exhibition, "Apron Strings: Ties to the Past."
Featuring 51 vintage and contemporary aprons from the past century, the exhibit showcases the true art behind and social influences of crafting the classic culinary accessory.
RAM celebrated the opening of the exhibit with a special reception after hours on Thursday, inviting members and the community to get their first look of the unique collection.
"The aprons featured in the show date from the early 1900s through present day and chronicle changing attitudes toward women and domestic work," said Lee Ortega, RAM executive eirector. "They illustrate a wide range of design and craft techniques that apron makers have used to express themselves, while still working within creative venues traditionally available to women. The exhibit is organized into various thematic groups that highlight design, historical context, use, decoration and materials."
Aprons hang along the gallery walls, complete with descriptions about their design, as well as the decade in which they were created and the sewing techniques used in their construction. In addition to the aprons on display, the show also has an interactive component, giving visitors the chance to experience the art on a new level.
"We are dedicating a space where adults and children can try on a selection of aprons," said Ortega. "We also dedicated a space where visitors can write their personal stories and memories about aprons and then hang them on a clothesline."
Ortega anticipates that the exhibition will be a hit with the community and that the unique fabric medium will generate memorable visits to the museum.
"Museum surveys and past attendance show there is a strong interest in fiber art in our area," said Ortega. "When researching traveling exhibits, I came across "Apron Strings' and thought it would be a good fit for RAM. There is already a great deal of interest in the exhibit. For example, weeks ago we booked a large group tour where all the visitors plan to wear aprons they made themselves.”
"Apron Strings" was brought to Fort Smith by ExhibitsUSA, a national program of Mid-America Arts Alliance with the Arkansas Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts. The program sends more than 25 exhibitions on tour to more than 100 small- and mid-sized communities every year.
The exhibit will serve as a highlight of the organization's upcoming soiree, which will feature a classic cinematic theme. The "Rendezvous in Casablanca" gala invites guests to celebrate one of the most romantic films of all time on the most romantic day of the year, Feb. 14. The event will be held at RAM from 7 to 10 p.m. Gala -goers will have the chance to browse the exhibit, while enjoying gourmet food and drinks. A number of special prize drawings will also be held. Tickets are $75 for RAM members and $100 for non-members. All proceeds support the museum’s diverse exhibitions and educational programming.
"Apron Strings" will be on display through March 22. RAM is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and on Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m.