URI opens historic textile gallery to public

KINGSTON, R.I. — April 6, 1999 — Take a look at a dress created by world-renowned designer Emilio Pucci, or a paisley tapestry from Kashmir India from the early 1800s. Examine a boy’s outfit that was highlighted in a calendar entitled, “Historic Fashion of Women & Children.” These textiles and more are open for public viewing at the inaugural exhibit of the Textile Gallery at the University of Rhode Island. Titled, “Threads of History,” the exhibit is open weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the lobby of Quinn Hall, the home of URI’s Department of Textiles, Fashion Merchandising and Design. Visits can also be arranged by appointment by calling 401-874-4574. The exhibit runs through June 15. The gallery, a project in the making since 1991, is a result of the determination of Department Chair Linda Welters of Peace Dale and Associate Professor Margaret Ordoñez, of Cumberland, director of the URI Historic Textile and Costume Collection. Welters headed a private fund drive that raised $15,000 for displays cases, carpentry, and lighting for the exhibit. All of the textiles were researched and set up by the following textile students: Katherine Colpitts, an undergraduate of Simbsury, Conn. and graduate students, Natasha Kelly of Swathmore, Pa.; Melanie Sanford, of Dallas, Texas; Rebecca Kelly of Newport, Mary Beth Gale of South Kingstown; Debora Saville of Providence; and Pam Sebor-Cable of Boston. The gallery will host future exhibits. Welters said the historic costume collection is so extensive that it includes mummy cloth that dates from 2,000 years before the birth of Christ, and complex textiles from Coptic Egypt. Coptic refers to the Copts who were Egyptian Christians. “This will be great for tours on campus,” Ordoñez said. “There is also a great opportunity for the gallery to be a multi-disciplinary teaching and learning tool.” Welters and Ordoñez envision involvement from history, business, theater, women’s studies, and many more programs at the University. When the exhibit opened earlier this month, students, local residents, donors, University staff and faculty were impressed. Evelyn Moder, of North Kingstown, who teaches family and consumer science in the Providence School Department, said: “The University has clothes that represent various eras, and does lovely refurbishing. The staff in the textiles department are the experts. I can’t wait to bring my students here to see this.” Evelyn Siefert Kennedy of Groton, Conn., who earned her bachelor’s degree from URI and her master’s degree in textile conservation from URI, was also excited about the exhibit. “It’s fabulous,” said Kennedy who owns her own business, Sewtique, and has donated narrow ties from the 1950s, vintage Boy Scout clothes and other items to the URI Historic Costume Collection. Those contributing to the gallery fund drive are: Martin Bide, of Wakefield, professor of textiles, fashion merchandising and design; Barbara Brittingham, of Narragansett, dean of the College of Human Sciences and Services; URI graduates Edmund and Natalie Cianciarulo of Narragansett; the Cranston Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Cranston Print Works; the estate of Marion Fry, a former faculty member and 1933 graduate who lived in East Greenwich; URI Graduate Student Association; Gerber Garment Technology Inc., Tolland, Conn.; McKay’s Furniture, North Kingstown; Milliken & Co., Spartanburg, S. C.; The Moore Company, Westerly, Professor Ordoñez, Glenn S. Palmer a 1975 URI graduate of URI, who is president and CEO of Best Manufacturing in New York, and his family; Edmund Rumowicz, URI class of 1957, and Nathalie, his wife, of Hollywood, Fla.; the URI Alumni Association, 1948 URI graduate Patricia Weeden of Kingston and Professor Welters. Ordoñez said all of the garments for the gallery exhibit were restored by the Moore Company. The woodwork and display case installation were completed by Edward Balkun, a carpenter in Warwick. The artwork at the entrance to the gallery was designed and completed by Carlos Benevides, co-owner of Artifice, a vintage clothing store in East Greenwich. He was assisted by artist Erik Oberg. “The donors can now see that they made a difference, and Rhode Islanders can now have a window into our past through clothes and textiles.” For Further Information: Linda Welters 401-874-4525; Dave Lavallee 401-874-2116