Apron Strings: Ties to the Past
April 1 – May 21, 2017
Expanding upon the ExhibitsUSA, Mid-America Arts Alliance traveling exhibit, which consists of 51 contemporary and vintage aprons, a dress and five aprons to try-on, dating from the 1900s through present, the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center has added several pieces to personalize the exhibit for guests who visit the facility.
Added to the exhibit are two aprons from the collection of Julie McKinney, a master pie baker and former CTHC board member. Her aprons feature different years of the former event, Western Spirit Celebration. Additionally, new aprons were added, showing the trends of 2017; along with collections featuring vintage kitchen ware, an old wooden ironing board and antique sewing machine. Guests can also add their own memories of aprons on the custom-designed recipe cards and pin them to the clothesline.
This exhibition chronicles changing attitudes toward women and domestic work. It surveys the wide range of design and craft techniques apron-makers have used to express themselves, while still working within creative venues traditionally available to women. Elaborately embroidered aprons of delicate cotton, for example, were worn by well-heeled women of the 1920s.
In contrast, the Depression and war years of the 1930s and 1940s-inspired sturdy, calico bib aprons. The post-war 1940s and 1950s — the June Cleaver era — stand out as the acknowledged heyday of the apron, when commercial and intricately hand-decorated aprons flourished as symbols of family and motherhood.
Today, artists continue using aprons to explore cultural myths and realities, as well as their individual experiences with American domesticity. Though not as widespread as they once were, aprons remain as functional and protective garments for men and women alike.