Another Semester Ends

The semester is wrapping at K-State, and it has me looking back to the previous semesters. One of my favorite tasks as a graduate teaching assistant is to document undergraduate student work. Photos from the last documentation day are from Spring 2020. This was the last time I worked on campus, before heading to Guatemala and then, of course, COVID. 

It always a great day when the sewing studio can be turned into a photo shoot. The undergraduates here are truly amazing. 

Coming Up: CSA, Southeastern Region’s Symposium

This year I am excited by the conference track options provided by the Costume Society of America. Regional and national conferences are offering the option to present in-progress works. The opportunity to present incomplete, but still valuable work is refreshing. I’ve just completed data collection and I need outside perspectives!

CSA Southeastern presentations aren’t juried, but the reviewers offered constructive feedback to shape the upcoming presentation titled,

Between the huipil and the T-shirt: The importance of tipica blusas in San Pedro La Laguna, Guatemala

1) The considerations between why women choose to wear blusas típicas rather than huipiles are very interesting and seem to reveal many aspects of local reality that need to be studied. This abstract does not seem to look into the history of the huipil and how it has evolved since the arrival of the Spaniards in Mesoamerica. I wonder if there are ideas about “modernity” informing women’s dress choices. I would suggest taking a look at Joanne Eicher’s “Dress and Ethnicity” and Linda Welters and Abby Lillethun’s “Fashion History: A Global View” for models on how to study Indigenous dress in contemporary history. I do think that this research is very valuable and needs to be done, so I look forward to seeing the presentation.

 
2) Interesting and worthy research. I look forward to hearing it.
 
3) Topic does demonstrate diversity in subject matter and research and fits well into the symposium theme. The argument is clearly stated, but the research methods are not as clear outside of the interviews and the sample stated. The presentation should reveal more about the sample in San Pedro (assuming from abstract), and also the contextual factors causing the community to see the garment as described.

I’m so thankful to good reviewers! This information really pushes me to work on the things that challenge me! The suggestion to look at Eicher, Welters, and Lillethun gives me some faith that I’m going in the right direction.

Na chajiij

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Louisiana State Textile and Costume Museum is showcasing work inspired by Mayan artistry. Traje: Mayan Textile Artistry Creative Design Exhibition will be up from mid-September to mid-May. My mask, titled Na chajijj, which means ‘to protect’ in Tz’utujil will be included in the exhibition.

The Quetzal (wearer’s right) is the national bird of Guatemala. This bird is heavily present in Mayan heritage and is a reincarnation of a Quiche warrior. The hummingbird (wearer’s left) is the namesake of San Pedro, whose Mayan name Tzunun Ya’ means the land of the hummingbirds. The birds were selected in the thought of the national and local influences on the community. In the center is iconography from the Maya calendar. This symbol was included to represent the pandemic’s longevity and the lasting effects on this area, which thrives on tourism. With outreaching threads, the flower symbolizes the spread of the virus through breadth, when not harnessed by a mask.

I am honored to be a part of this exhibition.

LFGI Project Raises $803.00

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The Local Fashion Global Impact (LFGI) project made it full circle this July!

Hoping to push our project forward mid-pandemic, I opted to use an online platform to auction off the skirts created by the students. Over the month the project raised $803.00. These funds will be used to order cotton from our weaving partners in Choa Cruz and to restock the natural dye laboratory. Skirts were purchased by members of the K-State family but also wonderful new people – thanks to Linda Lee at the Sewing Workshop – in New Mexico, Florida, and Ohio.

The project will continue in Textile Surface Manipulation course during the Fall semester. Students in this course will create goods inspired by the region that can go up for auction next year.

See the progress of this project through previous posts:

Local Fashion, Global Impact #WEW2018

Green Action Fund

Natural Dye from Day 1

2nd Annual LFGI Event

Data Collection Continues!

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Yes, those are follow up questions taped to my computer.

 

Technology is fueling my study.

I am on WhatsApp, Facebook, Skype, Google, Zoom, and Outlook a good portion of everyday. I am taking Spanish lessons online and using Spanishdict for language support. I use Sonix for quick translation and transcription. I compensate my participants using Xoom. I used Survey Monkey for scheduling.

These technologies have made my data collection much more flexible. Interviews are at 7:00AM and 9:00PM, and all hours in between.  If I was in person, I wouldn’t have been in people’s homes and I certainly wouldn’t have been there late at night.

There is something about talking to a stranger online that is socially easier. From a practical perspective, I can look up words and ideas more quickly, and I can type to clarify both sides of the conversation.

I, of course, wish I was in Guatemalan highlands. Online interactions can’t replace in person relationships. However, for my first study – this process is working. My rough goal was to leave Guatemala after 5 weeks with 10 – 15 interviews. I’ve completed 8 in the past two weeks, and am scheduling follow-ups. There are another 18 on the calendar, and ever few days more people sign-up.

Depth is still an issue for me. The reality is that I’m a new research, these are the first questions I have ever wrote, I am doing this online, and there is a language barrier. Guatemala isn’t expected to reopen to foreigners until at least January. So, for now, there are always follow-up interviews.

 

Update 7.5.20: 30 participants!

 

 

Overall Outstanding Graduate Student Award

Overall Outstanding Graduate Students (revised)

This is my fourth award during the pandemic.

This award feels especially moving on days like today. I know my students are stressed, my research feels ‘up in the air’ and there is a giant 6 ft X 5 ft face mask waiting to be completed on kitchen table.

I feel humbled to be recognized by my department and alongside my fellow graduate students, many whom I’ve wondered around Justin Hall with for four years! I can only cross my fingers that it won’t go into year six. (Year five is seeming inevitable right now.)

 

 

Textile Society of America New Professional/Student Award

The Textile Society of America has had a special place in my heart since I presented at their conference in 2018. It was my first conference presentation, my first time in Canada, and I made my first ‘conference buddy’ Jenn, who I got to see again in London. In 2018 Jenn was the recipient of the TSA Professional/Student Award, and I am stoked to be following in her footsteps as one of the recipients for 2020. I hope to receive the award in person in Boston this Fall. Only time will tell!

Symposium 2020 and COVID-19

 

K-State Alumni Graduate Student Award for Leadership and Service

I am extremely honored to be the 2020 recipient of the K-State Alumni Graduate Student Award for Leadership and Service. The little apple makes you want to work for your community. I am lucky to be a part of the K-State family and to have opportunity to have served as a student leader as president of the Graduate Student Council.

I am particularly proud of the increase in representation within the GSC during my presidency. From the start of this position I strived to find what others were passionate about and worked to give them a voice on key issues. From the nomination form:

“[Emily] increased the number of graduate students engaged in providing input to the Executive Committee by expanding the number of student representatives to enhance diversity and inclusion. For example, new positions on the Student Affairs Committee were added for Parent/Guardian Relations, Diversity Advocacy, Veterans Affairs, LGBTQA and Advocacy, and Housing. As president she served as co-chair of the Strategic Enrollment Management Student Advisory Committee to represent the graduate student voices.”

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Many, many facebook lives were held to connect with my fellow students. The GSC even ‘trended’ in Kansas twice.

 

Orbita Language School

I took Spanish lessons at Orbita 3.5 years ago, after it was suggested that I should consider doing my research in Guatemala. My experience in San Pedro La Laguna showed me what my dissertation could become, if I could get at least some Spanglish down.

I was finally able to return in March for data collection. My 5 week trip was cut to 1 week. It is safe to say I didn’t get a lot of data collected, and I won’t graduate by December. However, I met a handful of amazing people on this trip who changed my dissertation for the better. I cannot wait to see them, in person, again.

I wish I didn’t have to leave Guatemala so soon, or go through the Miami airport on the day the borders were closing. I returned to the US likely acquiring COVID in travel and slept the rest of March and most of April. I’ve been ‘awake’ for two weeks now and there is certainly a lot of problems that need creative solutions.

Good things and good health come to those who wait. For now, I’ll start by taking lessons online.

https://orbitaspanishschool.com/

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