|The Folly Cove Designers with Virginia Lee Burton Demetrios on far right, 1949|
Who: Jennifer Scanlon
Where: Historic Northampton
When: February 27, 2 pm
Between 1938 and 1969 a group of 45 designer/printmakers in the neighborhood of Folly Cove, MA emerged, as one of them put it, “out of the granite of Cape Ann.” Depicting their local environments with passion and humor, the group—mostly women—worked together to cut carefully wrought designs into linoleum, print the designs on fabric, and sell them as table linens, draperies, and clothing.
Jennifer Scanlon, an historian whose scholarly focus is U.S. women’s history, is Interim Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor of Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies at Bowdoin College. Her book Bad Girls Go Everywhere: The Life of Helen Gurley Brown was named a “Book of the Times” by the New York Times and a business book of the year by American Public Media’s Marketplace. Her most recent book, Until There is Justice: The Life of Anna Arnold Hedgeman, is the first biography of that stalwart civil rights leader, educator, speaker, social service worker, policy maker, and politician. Professor Scanlon serves as a Distinguished Lecturer for the Organization of American Historians and has served as Executive Director of the Coordinating Council for Women in History (CCWH), an affiliate of the American Historical Association (AHA) and the Organization of American Historians (OAH).
This program is supported in part by a grant from the Northampton Arts Council, a local agency which is supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.
The Space Between: Rediscovering the Folly Cove Designers was published by The Massachusetts Review in the Summer 2015 issue.
This essay examines the formation, organization, and ethos of the Folly Cove Designers group. Led and trained by illustrator Virginia Lee Burton, the Designers were a group of Massachusetts craftswomen whose shared interests in draftsmanship, pattern, and New
England material culture united them across class and ethnic backgrounds. Their artistic and commercial success printing their designs onto textiles energized and legitimized their group, both as a collective of women and as an artist’s cooperative. The essay argues for the Folly Cove Designers (active 1938-1969) to be seen as a forerunner of the women’s groups and professional organizations that fueled feminist social change in the following decades.