Pre-Production: The McCarl Coverlet Gallery Exhibit Process

Though many students spent their holiday break relaxing and catching up on the sleep they didn’t get during finals week, the McCarl Coverlet Gallery diligently prepared for our upcoming exhibit, American Architecture in Coverlet Design.

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All the coverlets  must come down as we prep for yet another exhibit!

The process of creating a new exhibit begins months in advance. Typically the curator, Lauren Lamendola-Churilla will have preconceived ideas for future exhibits, and while one exhibit is up for the community to enjoy, she will begin research on a new exhibit. For the American Architecture coverlet exhibit, Michelle Mock, who has curated a previous exhibit at the McCarl Coverlet Gallery, stepped up to the plate and carried out the research and preparations for the exhibit. Michelle received her doctorate in history from Carnegie Mellon University in 2011. There, she also taught courses on women’s history and American consumer culture. As guest curator, Michelle handpicked 21 unique woven bed coverings depicting 19th century architecture, varying from church scenes to urban buildings. With the help of Lauren, Michelle created a model laying out the gallery in order to determine where each individual coverlet would be displayed in the exhibit. Though it is a daunting workload, both Lauren and Michelle put in lots of time, effort and dedication to bring the Saint Vincent and Latrobe community another beautiful coverlet exhibit.

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Michelle Mock putting the finishing touches on her exhibit.

Michelle and Lauren aren’t the only ones working hard to bring a new exhibit to the McCarl Coverlet Gallery! Those docents who signed up to work over holiday break spent the majority of their time working on different projects to help bring the gallery one step closer to the latest exhibit. For each exhibit, gallery docents are required to sew cloth sleeves on the back of certain coverlets to be displayed in the gallery. All coverlets were woven between the 1830s-1860s, so each docent is responsible for making sure sewing the cloth sleeves on the back of the coverlets will cause no harm to these early American textiles.  Slowly, but surely, and with a little tender love and care, the gallery docents managed to sew cloth sleeves on the back of 18 of the 21 coverlets without any major or minor needle injuries. Success all around!

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Gallery docent Aliethia Mcleod sewing a cloth sleeve on the back of a soon to be displayed coverlet. 

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Aliethia is a master coverlet seamtress; she never gets pricked by the needle!

The gallery docents also helped spread the word about the upcoming exhibit via posters and postcards displayed throughout the Saint Vincent campus. Two docents spent an afternoon sticking postcards in each Saint Vincent student and faculty mailbox. These are exciting times down at the McCarl Coverlet Gallery in the Fred Rogers Center. With the opening reception in just two days, Michelle, Lauren and the rest of the McCarl Gallery staff look forward to visitors, old and new and feedback on the American Architecture in Coverlet Design exhibit.

The American Architecture in Coverlet Design opening reception will take place on Wednesday, January 23, from 6-8p.m. This exhibit will run until June 30 and is free and open to the public.   

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