Stitching the Steel: What Mildred Johnstone‘s bold needlepoint scenes of steelmaking can tell us about the worlds of art and industry
March 23 @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Join Carol Shiner Wilson, Ph.D., scholar and academic dean emerita, Muhlenberg College, to examine the life and art of Mildred Thomas Johnstone (1900-1988), fibre artist, wife of Bethlehem Steel VP William H. Johnstone, and member of multiple artistic and intellectual circles. Wilson is using a variety of primary and secondary sources, including private letters, interviews, designs for Johnstone’s stitched work, and more. Milly Johnstone was part of sometimes intersecting but more often disparate worlds: corporate wife and community leader, member of artistic circles in Europe and the US, student and practitioner of the Japanese Tea Ceremony, and so much more. Her stitched work of the fifties and sixties was eclectic, manifesting a unique combination of modernism, surrealism, medieval concepts, and indigenous South American inspirations. Many of her works are imaginative pieces based on her visits to and meticulous research into operating steel mills and bear titles like “Buddha in a Blast Furnace” and “Alice in a Wonderland of Steel.” Like Milly, Wilson was struck by her visit, thanks to photographer Joe Elliott, to a blast furnace the night before the last cast. Her early Johnstone research, including interviews with a niece, a god-daughter, and the artist who drew the cartoons for her later work, resulted in an essay published in the 2003 Allentown Art Museum catalogue Poetry in a Steel Mill: The Tapestries of Mildred T. Johnstone.
Included with museum admission. Free for members.