Experiences of TSA Membership by Catherine Morley, PDF  | Print |  E-mail
 Canadians at TSA Oct 2010
Catherine Morley (third from left )with some of the Canadians at TSA 2010 Symposium , Joe Lewis editor of fQ far left, Michael Hardy: Curator, Nichol Arts Museum in Calgary and TSA Director of External Affairs, Catherine, Ruth Scheuing: Professor Capilano University Vancouver, Artist,  Kelly Thompson Assistant Professor in Textile Fibre Department at Concordia  far right is Roxane Shaughnessy: Curator, Textile Museum of Canada and TSA Recording Sectary 

The purpose of this article is to share my experiences as a member of the Textile Society of America (TSA) including reflections on why I joined, what membership has been like, and hopes/expectations for the future of TSA membership.

Why I joined

I joined TSA as a student in the Textile Arts program at Capilano University in North Vancouver, BC. Because the school/program provided access to TSA materials/resources, I did not become a member until I was encouraged by one of my instructors, Ruth Scheuing, to apply for a Student/New Professional Scholarship (SNPS) in 2010. Glad I was to join as I was successful in receiving an SNPS to attend the 2010 TSA conference in Lincoln, Nebraska.

The experience of membership

 Attending the biannual meeting was complete joy - I felt I had ‘found my people’. Every session I attended was informative and so interesting. There was a feeling of interest in connecting with kindred spirits who had gathered in Lincoln, learning about each other’s backgrounds, areas of interest, and determining how interests crossed and merged. I found ready and mutual connections with others on the pre-conference tour, during chats walking to and from sessions, during discussion periods in the sessions themselves, and at the social events. 

 TSA welcome

Quilter Micheal James welcoming the Textile Society of America to the International Center for Quilt Studies in Lincoln Nebraska for Textiles and Settlement: From Plains Space to Cyber Space Professor Patricia Crews director of the IQSC is standing to the left.

What I get out of it

Generally, I do not join organizations for ‘what I can get out of it’, I join because of what opportunities I can contribute by being a member. In the case of joining TSA, I do not feel I have yet had an opportunity to make use of the connections that membership affords owing to taking a new job and moving clear across the country in 2011. Nevertheless, as a ‘lurking member’, I have been impressed with TSA’s support of members, with the program of recognition of members’ efforts, and with the publications that inform and connect. The SNPS award serves to illustrate the value TSA places on encouraging newcomers.

One of my simple joys each week is reading postings to the TSA listserv… I revel in the postings as they serve as a reminder of the huge and wonderfully interesting field of textiles that await my further explorations. There is so much to learn, enjoy, and to share!

tsa symposium logo

I find that membership in TSA affords recognition from non-textilian colleagues that my interest in textiles is not ‘just a hobby’ or a passing fancy. For instance, in the interview for my position, a panelist asked about TSA membership and its connection to dietetics and nutrition. This provided an opening to share my interests in the use of textiles as a medium to invite conversations about social issues.  

My interests that link textiles and dietetics/nutrition (in addition to their shared history in home economics education) are the history of household linens in food preparation (before wax paper, plastic wrap, aluminum foil and the like), and the use of textiles in social messaging and to extend the reach of research findings beyond writing for publication. Regarding the latter, my primary focus is the effects of illness within a family on eating rituals. Image 1, Not At The Table, illustrates this idea. The piece is about how someone on a tubefeeding may be living at home but not participating in the family ritual called ‘dinner’. That is, they are ‘there’, but ‘not there’. I made this piece to invite sharing of experiences related to this phenomenon, sharing that can contribute to coping with this change in life circumstance. The title serves as a double entendre for the general lack of discussion in health care planning about the impact of daily living care decisions on the home life of clients and their families/caregivers.  I have been surprised by the range of stories this piece has prompted; from those wishing a tubefeeding had never been started as it prolonged the suffering of a loved one, to thankfulness that the tubefeeding allowed a loved one a few more precious months or years at home, to stories unrelated to tubefeeding, most often about the end of life of loved ones such as elderly parents.

 C Morely Not At the Table, 90x90 cm, Catherine Morley, 2008,vintage linen tablecloth, silk screened with pigment, silk organza reverse appliqué.

I have recently become part of a fledgling group of artist-researchers at Mount St. Vincent University, Halifax NS. In introducing myself at the group, mentioning TSA membership affirmed my commitment to working in textiles within the domain of arts-based inquiry and practice.

What I most value about TSA membership is that it has already linked and will continue to link me with ‘friends to play with’ – folks with whom I can discuss these ideas conceptually and technically. At the TSA conference, I found that my new contacts connected immediately with my ideas. They not only supported my vision of merging research, health care, health professions’ training, and support for families experiencing illness, they contributed ideas about others with whom I could connect, organizations I might be interested in, and production pointers.

Hopes/expectations for the future of membership

Frankly, prior to the 2010 conference I did not expect I would continue TSA membership following the Lincoln conference. However, I found the TSA conference experience so completely positive, that I look forward to lifelong membership in the organization. My greatest delight as a textilian and a TSA member is the discovery of how, as Robert Frost put it, ‘way leads on to way’ when it comes to textiles. I had not been at the TSA gathering in Lincoln for one day when I learned about Weave a Real Peace (WARP). Connecting with that delightful organization would not have been possible without membership in TSA.

Catherine Morley, PhD, PDt, FDC
Assistant Professor, School of Nutrition and Dietetics
Acadia University, Wolfville NS
Adjunct Professor, Applied Human Nutrition
Mount St. Vincent University, Bedford, NS

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