Ruth Ketterer Harris Lecture

Image of a woman in a storage room standing and examining a large, red textile
Photograph of Ruth Ketterer Harris working in the Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection, courtesy UW–Digital Archives

Since 1990, the Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection has proudly sponsored an annual lecture series in honor of Ruth Ketterer Harris, the collection’s first curator. The lecture series has featured a diverse range of specialists with broad public appeal including textile historians, contemporary artists, museum curators, scholars, and collectors―all of whom have contributed to an enhanced understanding and appreciation of textiles.

The Harris Lecture is free and open to the public. In recent years, lectures have been live streamed and recorded. Links to recent recordings can be found below.

Previous Ruth Ketterer Harris Lectures

2024 – Mending in the Museum: The Professionalization of Textile Conservation| Sarah Scaturro, Eric and Jane Nord Chief Conservator at the Cleveland Museum of Art

2023 – Shoe Obsessed: Power, Identity, and the Manufacturing of Desire | Elizabeth Semmelhack, Director and Senior Curator, Bata Shoe Museum

2021 – A Conversation with Bisa Butler | Bisa Butler, Textile Artist

2019 – Come to Your Senses! Understanding Arts Everywhere…And The Arts of Yoruba People in Particular | Henry Drewal, Professor, University of Wisconsin-Madison

 2018 – Gossips, Garlands, and 34 Cows: The Modern Folks Aesthetic of the Folly Cove Designers | Marina Moskowitz, Professor, University of Wisconsin-Madison

2017 – The Power of Mistakes | Noa Raviv, Fashion Designer

2016 – Making: A World of Blue | Rowland Ricketts, Indiana University

2015 – Global Color: Textiles, Dyes and Color in the Interwoven Globe, 16th-18th Centuries | Elena Phipps, Senior Research Scholar, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

2014 – Seven Fibers that Changed the World | Patrice George, Assistant Professor, Fashion Institute of Technology, New York City

2013 – Weaving and Innovation: Digital Fibers Converse with Neural Networks | Lia Cook, Artist

2012 – Marrying Tradition and Innovation: Collaborations between Oaxacan Artisans and 21st-century Designers | Ana Paula Fuentes Quintana

2011 –The Hyperbolic Crocheted Reef Project: Art/Math/Ecology | Margaret Wertheim

2010 – Felt: The Most Ancient Modern Material | Susan Brown

2009 – The Sun and the Moon: Protective Motifs in Central and South Asian Embroideries |  Victoria Rivers

2008 – The Embroidered Landscape of the Andes: Creating Textiles as a Way of Life | Blenda Femenias

2007 – Uzbek Steppe Embroidery: How Women Preserve Identity | Kate Fitz Gibbon

2006 – Contemporary Knitting: The Intersection of Fashion, Craft, Art, and Technolo | Sandy Black

2005 – Fashioning Architecture: Fabric, Form, and Textile Technology |Bradley Quinn

2004 – The Search Continues: Where are the 1933 Sears Quilt Contest Quilts? | Merikay Waldvogel

2003 – Imperial Ottoman Tents: Mobiles Palaces | Nurhan Atasoy

2002 – What do Textiles Say to Each Lying in the Dark? What are collections for, anyway? | Max Allen

2001 – Industry and Historic Preservation as Partners: Scalamandré and Villa Louis | Robert Bitter, co-president of the New York textile firm, Scalamandré, and Michael Douglass, site director of the Villa Louis Wisconsin State Historical Site

2000 – The Shinning Cloth: Materials and Meaning | Victoria Rivers

1999 – Tana Bana: The Woven Soul of Pakistan | Noorjehan Bildrami

1998 – Shared Boundaries | Gerhardt Knodel

1997 – A New Look at Old Textiles | Linda Baumgarten

1996 – Cooperating for Change: the Ixoq aj Kemmol Women’s Weaving Cooperative in Tactic, Guatemala | Rosalia Asig Chò and Amy Giesemann

1995 – World’s Oldest Textiles | Elizabeth Wayland Barber

1993 – The Fashion’s in the Bag: Recycling Feed, Flour, and Sugar sacks during the Middle Decades of the 20th Century | Rita J. Adrosko

1990 – The Intuitive Response: Understanding and Collecting Traditional Textiles | Douglas Dawson