I first began to study midlife and older women in the US who quilt for fun for my dissertation research. I examined contemporary US women's quilting activities as a gendered form of cultural production, attending to family tensions.
I continue this line of research with colleague Theresa M. Winge (Michigan State University), as we study North American crafters engaged in handwork broadly defined.
Additionally, I am interested in expanding research in quilting, knitting and embroidery comparatively between the US and western Europe. In the US in particular, I have found that leisure activities can take up space within the home. My next research trip will center on creative activities in Ireland with colleague Emer Fahy (Irish Quilt and Design Studio).
Red Hat Society
With colleagues Annette Lynch (University of Northern Iowa) and M. Elise Radina (Miami University), we examine the global phenomenon of the Red Hat Society (RHS), exploring how midlife and older women embrace and negotiate gendered aging. In our multi-disciplinary and interdisciplinary approach, we work to understand the RHS from Dress, Leisure, Gender, Aging, and Family perspectives. We purport that the RHS is positive for aging women, providing a legitimate leisure space for women to have fun, where women establish new friendships and find social support for the challenges facing aging women at this stage in the life course.
The creative process is shaped by the economy for those engaged in making art. In a multi-year and multi-site ethnographic endeavor, I spend time with US artists in their local communities, learning about how artists balance the creative process with the economy. Many artists negotiate traditional definitions of "success" based in solely economic terms by using subjective career notions including quality of life, happiness, artistic reputation, and other work components that do not always coincide with economic success.
The role of the US First Lady is compelling, and our nation has been generally apprehensive about the majority of women who have accompanied their elected spouse into the White House. First Ladies are scrutinized constantly by the press and the general public, serving the private role of wife and mother in public.
I have been fortunate to work with fabulous undergraduate and graduate students, sitting in on their interesting projects. Student projects include research on guerilla knitting, fat studies, popular culture, transgender couples, feminist blogging, health care, athletes, and masculinity.
“Presenting the Professional Quilting Self: A Sociological Take on The Business of Quilting”
PAAQT The Professional Association of Appraisers, Quilted Textiles.
Paducah, KY, April 26, 2015.
"The Quilt is Flat: The Globalization of Women's Creative Activities" Gender Studies Program Series Speaker, Mississippi State University, November 16, 2012
“The Global Phenomenon of Quilting: How Did We Get Here?" Dublin, Ireland. Irish Patchwork Society, Eastern Branch. June 22, 2013
“Guerrillas in the Knit: Guerilla Knitters, Yarn Bombing, and Craftivism in Contemporary North America" Marybeth Stalp and Theresa Winge, UNI Graduate College Brown Bag Lecture Series. April 2, 2014