October 27 – December 17, 2006
Elizabeth Zimmermann and Meg Swansen, ca. 1947. Photo courtesy of Schoolhouse Press.
A virtual exhibition catalog is available at www.newschoolknittingexhibition.org
Knitwear designers Elizabeth Zimmermann (1910-1999) and Meg Swansen (b. 1942), a mother and daughter team from Wisconsin, have devoted their careers to promoting Zimmermann’s “percentage system” of knitwear design. This system, which emphasizes seamless construction and allows individuals to design their own garments without a pattern, has had a tremendous impact on contemporary American knitting. Zimmermann and Swansen have influenced many individual knitters as well as a significant group of knitwear designers through their PBS television series, workshops, classes, and summer “knitting camps,” newsletter and magazine articles, as well as their own books, videos, and reprints published through The Schoolhouse Press, which was founded in 1959 by Zimmermann and continues today under Swansen's leadership.
This exhibition’s focus will be key works by Zimmermann and Swansen themselves and nine knitwear designers who have adopted their construction methods and design philosophy: Carol A. Anderson, Amy Detjen, Teva Durham, Wendy Easton, Kaffe Fassett, Norah Gaughan, Therese Inverso, Cheryl Oberle, and Joyce Williams. Through knitted garments, books, graphic diagrams, and video, the exhibition will demonstrate the way in which these designers have not only adopted the Zimmermann/Swansen approach, but elaborated on it both technically and aesthetically to create a distinct style.
Curated by Molly Greenfield, a graduate student in the Department of Environment, Textiles, and Design, the exhibition features over 65 garments, a range of archival patterns and images, and videos produced by Schoolhouse Press that feature both Zimmermann and Swansen and document their techniques and educational methods. Knitting needles, yarn, and comfortable chairs are available within the gallery so that visitors may try out Zimmermann’s innovative techniques for themselves.