Dirty Laundry and Other Women’s Work

Julie Thurber says, “from the Civil War through the middle of the 20th century, so much of a woman’s experience was intended to be kept out of view, lest she or her family be shamed. Women had been ingrained to be submissive, question their own voices and to prize appearance. When I came upon a vintage slip at a flea market, I immediately knew her name – Betty Crocker – and her story under the apron. Betty’s tale wasn’t about some perfect concoction of womanhood, but she had a tale to tell. I wanted to tell her story and amplify her – and others’ – voices and what better way to do that than with the most intimate of clothing. Intimates are worn closest to the skin every day, and they encounter all that is unseen in a woman’s life.”

Thurber uses dyes and iron tools to alter the pristine appearance of vintage undergarments.  The result is a perfect metaphor for the plight of her subjects. Viewers of this exhibit are “invited to touch and examine these pieces for an intimate encounter with our tightly laced past and ask yourself if we still have some ‘dirty laundry’ to address.”