Founded in 2019, Project Threadways utilizes Makeshift's conversations, Alabama Chanin's experience, and Natalie's vision through academic partnerships and programming. Project Threadways explores, studies, and records the history of textiles as material culture. The purpose is to understand the impact of textiles and their creation, from raw material to finished goods, on the local community, and then connect that to the region, the nation, and across the world. In a partnership with the Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area (MSNHA) and the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi, Project Threadways collects oral histories, analyzes and publishes data, and stages events that begin and advance conversations on the connections between people, places, and materials.
In April of 2019, an inaugural symposium, “T-Shirt and Sound: A Study in Material Culture from 1970 to Today” explores the story of manufacturing, music, and community. The presentations focus on material culture, textile history, cotton, economics, oral histories, and women in the workforce. With funding from a grant provided by the MSNHA, an exhibition to accompany the symposium theme is created to display throughout the region. New York-based design company, Flyleaf Creative, designs the exhibition panels.
In 2021, Alabama Chanin, Project Threadways, and the Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area host the second annual Project Threadways Symposium in April 2021. With the theme of “Textiles Across Time and Place: Examining a Complicated Past to Create a More Sustainable Future,” the virtual event allows guests from around the world to safely attend. Presentations feature topics about the geography of textiles, material culture across time, sustainable fashion, and clothing of the enslaved. The list of speakers includes Carrie Barske-Crawford, Jessamyn Hatcher and Thuy Linh Tu (entry coming soon), Dana Thomas, Katie Randall, Kate Knowles, and Julius Tillery.
Gratitude goes out to Carrie Barske-Crawford and Brian Murphy, The Center for the Study of Southern Culture, Ted Ownby and Ava Lowrey, the team at Nest and Rebecca van Bergen, Anita Merk and Flyleaf Creative, the Southern Foodways Alliance and John T. Edge, donors and supporters, and those who have encouraged Project Threadways from the very beginning.
Support Project Threadways here.
Learn more about the Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area here.