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Unique Presidential Regalia Showcases Diversity through Textile Traditions

Posted by struscott | December 1, 2007

Using the textile traditions of many cultures, WSU’s President Elson S. Floyd has new academic regalia that reflects the university’s ethnic diversity.

President Floyd and stole contributors
From left to right: Linda Arthur, contributor to the stole, Willemina Kardong, Director of Presidential Events, President Floyd, Karen K. Leonas, AMDT department chair.

The regalia was designed and assembled by apparel, merchandising, textiles and design professor Linda Arthur and AMDT chair, Karen Leonas, in collaboration with WSU administrators, AMDT students and several well known fiber artists.

The show-stopper of the new regalia, which Floyd and future presidents will wear to convocations and graduations, is a handmade stole. The stole was created to represent some of the ethnic groups in Washington.

Arthur said she and her team worked “for months selecting the right colors, fabrics, trims and designs for the regalia.”

“We started on the stole in August and I brought my students into the research process as we collected data on the ethnic diversity in Washington and then set about researching the textile traditions of each of the groups,” Arthur said.

“With only a small amount of space, there was no way we could represent all of the ethnic groups in the state, and even if we could, not all have clearly identified textile traditions.”

Working on the stole for President Floyd
Linda Arthur and apparel design student Deborah Christel working on the stole for President Floyd

Four well know fiber artists contributed handmade pieces for the stole.

Susan Pavel, a master Salish weaver, hand spun and wove two pieces of traditional Salish design. Ann McCormack and Joleen Gray embroidered pieces representative of the Nez Perce textile tradition. Charlene Hughes created traditional Hawaiian hand appliqué, while Cynthia Hosick wove an American coverlet sampler.

To represent Central and South America, the stole incorporates hand-woven textiles from Ecuador, Guatemala and a Mexican serape fabric.

Europe was represented by the costume itself, as academic regalia developed in the Middle Ages in Europe, but also includes a piece of Scottish plaid. Oceania is represented by two pieces of bark cloth. Africa is represented by kente cloth, India by silk sari fabric, Japan by kabe crepe, and China by silk jacquard.

“It is my hope that the diversity represented in these textile pieces is a visual reminder of WSU’s commitment to ethnic diversity,” Arthur said.

Fiber arts from many cultures showcase diversity at WSU and in Washington state. All photos by Mike McIlvenna.