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Member News: a new book by Cynthia Fowler Ph.D.

Hooked Rugs:  Encounters in American Modern Art, Craft and Design (Ashgate, 2013) is an examination of hooked rugs in America during the interwar years with a focus on the relationship between hooked rugs and American modern art, craft and design.  Although not generally associated with modernism, hooked rugs have a rich historical relationship to experiments in modern art and design and raise important questions about craft production as an integral to modernist experimentation.  The book focuses specifically on two rug industries:  Ralph Pearson’s Design Workshop and Zoltan and Rosa Hecht’s New Age Group.  It constructs a history of the modernist hooked rug with consideration of all aspects of the hooked rug’s history, including design concerns, production of the rugs, their use in American homes and their display in art museums.  With modernist hooked rugs,  modern abstraction converged with traditional rug design, the handmade with the machine, the celebrated individual artist with the anonymous rug maker.  These competing factors related to the modernist hooked rug reveal the complexity of American modernism as it developed in the first half of the twentieth century.

Summary submitted by Cynthia Fowler, Ph.D.

Bio:  Cynthia Fowler, Ph.D., is an art historian and Associate Professor of Art at Emmanuel College in Boston, MA.  Her scholarship has focused on American modernist textiles, including the modernist embroideries of American artist Marguerite Zorach.  Fowler will be presenting a paper at the next TSA conference, titled Mary Ellen Crisp and the Modern Embroidery Movement in America,which represents her continued interest in modernist embroideries.  She hopes to publish a book on this topic.  Other recent scholarship includes her forthcoming essay, “A Sign of the Times:  Sheila Hicks and the Fiber Arts Movement,” to be published in the spring 2014 volume of the Journal of Modern Craft.  In 2008, Fowler was nominated for the TSA’s Founding Presidents Award.