Friday Salon: So, What’s the Story?: RISD Curator Laurie Brewer at the Athenaeum, free and open to everybody:

RISD Museum Costume and Textiles Assistant Curator Laurie Brewer on the exhibit Queen of the Insects: The Art of the Butterfly, running December 11, 2009 through May 9, 2010. Ephemeral, otherworldly, and transformative, the iridescent and fragile beauty of the butterfly has enchanted designers and artisans around the world for centuries. The human desire to preserve this resplendent and potent image of metamorphosis and rebirth has made it a universal—if variously invoked—design icon.

Whereas Western design often presents the motif as purely decorative, in Asian art the butterfly is a traditional symbol, a design inspiration, and a material in itself. Always fashionable, the butterfly motif has adorned a wide variety of design objects, from porcelain to prints to jewelry. RISD Museum Costume and Textiles Assistant Curator Laurie Brewer, whose specialty is ecological fashion history, got her inspiration for this show from the Victorian use of butterfly wings in jewelry design.

Among topics she will discuss at her Salon are Victorian era exotic, naturalist, and historical representations of the butterfly; ecology and the use of animal materials in fashion history; the romance of the butterfly in western and eastern design; the butterfly in art and literature; the feminine quality of butterflies, from Psyche to Madame Butterfly to Louie Fuller; and the journeys enfolded in the history of the exhibit, from the journey a collector would take to capture a specimen, to the travel a book takes to enter a collection. This latter is significant because Laurie took a journey of her own in curating the show, crossing Benefit Street to work with Athenaeum Collections Librarian Kate Wodehouse to find images and quotes from our rare and special collections for the exhibit.

Come hear about all this and more, and be sure to see the dazzling show! More on the Museum:

Free and open to the public!

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