Browse Exhibits (1 total)

Apparel in American Education

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These items tell a story. It is that of the elite status symbol becoming a memento of childhood and bonds. It is that of a celebration of self within a larger educational community. Unlike tokens that signify merely a group experience, these items, be it by number, jewel, or size, are crafted to the individual experience of a student. These pieces are present at some of life’s greatest achievements, they become a part of the person who wears them. The decor is meant to signify the identity and how the individual wishes to be viewed. Some of these important items, not too unlike wedding gowns, family pocket watches, and wedding rings, have significance in being passed down. They hold a part of the person with them. Education represents, for some, a simpler time in our history. For others, it is a time of progression and personal growth. These items are more than metal and cloth; they are memories, and they are tapestries of our lives that we carry on ourselves.

In this exhibit, we preserve something stronger than an artifact; we preserve a memory. Here, within databases and code, lies something warmer: a human experience. Now immortalized, these stories will continue to reach students who will continue to dance, to share, and to lead their own victories. This exhibit also speaks to the memories of those lucky enough to already possess them.

Subconscious disposition is embodied in our way of dress and the items that we choose to express ourselves. As we have grown in methods of thought and practice, ornamentation has changed to adhere to new traditions. Certain items do not carry, as they are formed and then realized as a kind of hindrance. We do not wear family crests, but the name of our family and of ourselves can fit on a hand. We cannot wear all sports gear at all times to display our belonging and communal spirit; we have condensed it to jackets and jerseys on our backs. We cannot drape ourselves elaborately in all things that have meaning. That is why these condensed items mean so much; they bear the weight of all the memories we cannot hold on our persons. We long for ways to evolve ourselves physically, and with the items in education, we are allowed to form the identity of our own choosing within a time of decision. We celebrate that time, that connectedness, and the ability to paint oneself with the effects of education. It exists beyond the classroom and halls to dance studios and football fields. It’s on our fingers, our feet, and our shoulders: education has truly left its mark on us.


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