Comments about The Costume Society of America, by Robert Hillestad PDF  | Print |  E-mail
 Robert Hillestad, fiber artist Celebration Coats. image provided by artist
I regard The Costume Society of America (CSA) as a community of scholars and value the role it has played throughout my professional life.  I became a member concurrently with registering for a CSA symposium held in NYC during the early Seventies.  I have vivid recollections of that memorable experience.  The program featured a rich mix of local resources and expertise from within the organization.  Topics of discussion ranged from research methods to organizational concerns.  Ann Coleman and Robert Riley, editor of Dress, were among dozens of persons with whom I had insightful conversations.  Touring the Costume Collection at the Brooklyn Museum was one of the highlights.  Networking was particularly valuable.  When my membership expired a year later, renewing was an easy decision.

 My initial affiliation with CSA came at a critical time.  A few years earlier I had made a career change from working as a designer in a small custom studio on the West Coast to joining the faculty in the area of apparel design at a major university in the Middle West.  Whereas making the transition was exciting, the expectations were daunting.  The challenges called for expanding my knowledge base of theory, reaching higher levels of critical thinking, developing leadership skills, and pursuing research.  Moreover, I was expected to create innovative designs and validate their merits by participating in juried competitions.  Although being involved in an advanced degree program on a part-time basis was my major resource, the value of my affiliation with CSA was significant.

 I have treasured my membership in CSA as a community of scholars over the years.  Through its mission as a professional organization, CSA has put me in touch with critical issues which might have been unknown to me had I not been a member.  I have had numerous opportunities to observe leadership in action.  Several of those leaders have served as role models and mentors.  I have relied on Dress as a major publication for updates on theory and research in the areas of dress and costume and appreciate the high standards it has long maintained.  Attending various CSA symposia has enabled me to view exhibitions, tour facilities, meet distinguished scholars, and interact with like-minded professionals.  Few of those opportunities would have been available to me had I not been a member.  My first article was published in Dress.

 Although retired from a 31-year career in higher education, I continue to be professionally active as a studio textiles artist and free-lance design educator.  I value my affiliation with CSA all the more these days since I am no longer linked to the profession as I was when actively involved in the mission of an educational institution on a day-to-day basis.

  RH at the Burkholder Project

"Downstream" Textiles by Robert Hillestad Installation October 2010 at the Burkholder Project 719 P Street, Haymarket District, Lincoln, NE during the Textiles Society of America Symposium. photo by Joe Lewis

Robert Hillestad, emeritus professor of clothing, textiles, and design at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, is a studio artist and design educator. He works with fiber and fabric to create wall pieces and sculpture for commercial and residential interiors, garments, accessories, and one-of-a-kind designs for individuals and families to celebrate special occasions. His work has been shown in more than 150 juried and invitational shows in the United States and abroad and is included in many corporate, private and museum collections.
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