Women Designers in the USA, 1900-2000


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Diversity and Difference

Edited by Pat Kirkham


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This stunning book celebrates the many contributions women designers have made to American culture over the past century in such fields as textiles, ceramics, graphics, furniture, interiors, metalwork, fashion, and jewelry. It includes designers from the arts and crafts and modernist movements, Native American and African American cultures, the post-World War II era, craft and “ethnic” revivals in the 1970s and 1980s, and the world of today. Many famous designers are discussed, including Eva Zeisel, Maria Martinez, Ray Eames, Florence Knoll, Edith Head, Clare McCardell, Bonnie Cashin, Elsa Peretti, and April Greiman, as well as less well-known designers.

The book features seventeen essays by such eminent scholars as Valerie Steele, Ellen Lupton, Cheryl Buckley, and Edward S. Cooke, Jr. A timeline offers readers a broader context within which to understand the developments discussed in the text, as does Eileen Boris’s chapter “Women in the United States, 1900–2000: Social Change and Changing Experience.” In addition, an essay by Pat Kirkham and Lynne Walker explores such fascinating issues as the differing gendered nature of the various areas of design, training, and education, support networks, “race,” class, cultural traditions, and the diverse ways in which women came to be, practiced as, and experienced being designers.

Pat Kirkham is professor in the history of design, decorative arts and culture at the Bard Graduate Center.

“Kirkham celebrates the contributions of women designers in a wide range of design fields including textiles, graphics, ceramics, furniture, fashion and jewelry. . . . A significant volume that understands the myriad ways in which design affects the way we see the world. . . . An impressive book for any library. But if you are at all interested in the intertwining of art and commerce, it’s a must have.”—Franklin D. Sirmans, Black Issues

“[E]xceptional.”—J. V. L. Trieschman, Choice

"An in-depth history of the role of women in the field of design in America over the past century. What makes this book special is that it covers such a wide field of information."—Design Issues 

“This lavish volume . . . is groundbreaking yet highly readable. There are 21 contributors, a valuable illustrated time line, and 17 fact-filled essays dealing with the general topics of women designers in the 20th century or more specifically contextualizing their work within each medium. . . . This essential book on the history of women designers belongs in any art or women’s studies collection and on most reference shelves.”—Library Journal

“A marvelous book, and the catalogue of an exhibition, which is a thorough examination of the importance—and difference—of women designers.”—Colin McDowell, Sunday Times

“Must reading for women considering design careers.”—Linda Hales, Washington Post

Women Designers in the U.S.A. is a highly enjoyable read, in addition to serving as an indispensable reference source on the topic. It is recommended for all art libraries.”—Art Documentation

Winner of the 2001 George Wittenborn Memorial Book Award given by the Art Libraries Society of North America

Winner of the 2000 Susan Koppelman Award sponsored by Popular Culture/American Culture Association Women’s Caucus in Feminist Studies of Popular Culture and American Culture
ISBN: 9780300093315
Publication Date: January 11, 2002
Publishing Partner: Published in association with the Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts
464 pages, 9 x 12
50 b/w + 300 color illus.
History of Design

Decorative Arts and Material Culture, 1400–2000

Edited by Pat Kirkham and Susan Weber

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