Grants by Foundation to Fashion and Textile
Field Remain Strong Despite Financial Downturn
Coby Foundation Supports Fourteen
New Projects in Seven States in 2009
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 15, 2009
The Coby Foundation, Ltd. continued its strong support of projects in fashion and textiles in 2009 with grants totaling $418,000. While this was a reduction from 2008’s high figure of $525,000, the Foundation still awarded grants ranging from $6,800 to $50,000 to fourteen new projects and continuing support to five projects. The only foundation in the country to focus solely on the textile field, the Coby Foundation, located in New York City, limits its support to non-profit organizations in the mid-Atlantic and Northeast.
While the Coby Foundation supports projects in all cultures and time periods, contemporary exhibitions were especially varied and provocative in 2009. They included Pretty Tough: Contemporary Storytelling at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield, CT, a group show where artists reclaimed storytelling and vintage techniques as strategies to address contemporary discourses on warfare, the environment, and female struggles ($10,000); the Design Center at Philadelphia University, which commissioned site-specific installations by a group of internationally known artists and designers for its Lace in Translation exhibition, on view until April 2010, which drew inspiration from the Center’s historic lace collection ($23,000). Coby funds underwrote the catalogue for Ethics + Aesthetics = Sustainable Fashion Here and Now, on view at the Pratt Institute Gallery in Manhattan until February 2010 ($10,000).
Knitting figured into two contemporary projects the Foundation supported. One will be a section of Esopus Magazine’s spring 2010 issue where hand-knitter Jared Flood and five other knitters are creating and then documenting an “exquisite corpse,” where each participant knits one segment of a women’s sweater with no knowledge of the designs of the other segments ($6,800). A grant also went to the Hunterdon (NJ) Art Museum’s Knitted, Knotted, Netted, a group exhibition of contemporary fiber art, which will be on view until January 24, 2010 ($15,000). Other grants for contemporary projects went to the Museum at FIT for American Beauty: Aesthetics and Innovations in Fashion ($30,000) and the Philadelphia Art Alliance for The Sitting Room: Four Studies in Craft, which will explore connections between craft and installation art ($20,000).
Three Connecticut museums, each doing its own exhibition exploring the state’s needle arts history, received Coby funds. The Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme received funds for With Needle and Brush: Schoolgirl Needlework of the Connecticut River Valley, which will be the first scholarly exploration documenting the region’s role as an important center for the teaching and production of embroidered pictures by young girls in private academies during the late 18th and early 19th centuries ($30,000). A Coby grant went to the exhibition, opening in September, entitled A Stitch in Time: Quilts from the Collection of the Historical Society of the Town of Greenwich, the first-ever exhibition of that organization’s distinguished holdings ($24,000). And the Connecticut Historical Society in Hartford received its final payment for a three-year grant for Connecticut Needlework: Women and the Emergence of American Art, 1740-1840, which opens this summer.
The largest grants of 2009 went to an exhibition of the boldly designed textiles called ikats and a fashion Web site. Washington’s Textile Museum received Coby Foundation support for the exhibition and catalogue for Colors of the Oasis: Central Asian Ikats, opening in October, which will present 65 extraordinary examples from a recent donation by an Istanbul-based collector ($40,000). The fashion designers Charles Frederick Worth and Mainbocher will be compared and contrasted on a Web site created by the Museum of the City of New York, which will highlight its extensive holdings of 220 garments by these masters who span two centuries of fashion worn by American women ($50,000).
Other institutions receiving Coby funds included the University Press of New England for subventions for two books in its “Reading Dress” series about Emily Dickinson and Edith Wharton and fashion ($20,000) and the Staten Island Historical Society (through the Historic House Trust) for a Web site featuring costumes and accessories from its collection ($15,000).