News Releases

Ithaca College's Handwerker Gallery to Offer Symposium on Distaff Toolkit Exhibition

ITHACA, NY — Ithaca College’s Handwerker Gallery will host a symposium in conjunction with the current exhibition, “reimagining the distaff toolkit,” on Thursday, March 3, at 5 p.m. Speakers will include Jessica Dallow (associate professor of art history, the University of Alabama at Birmingham), Jeffreen Hayes (assistant professor of art history, Ithaca College) and Rickie Solinger (independent scholar and curator, Wakeup/Arts). The symposium is free and open to the public.

Many of the approximately 35 works on display feature tools that were important for women’s domestic labor from the 18th century through World War II. Contemporary artists have placed objects such as a dressmaker’s figure, pots, pans, baskets, rolling pins, darning eggs and rug-beaters at the center of their works. One piece incorporates a 19th-century distaff, an object used to hold wool during spinning. Over time, the word distaff came to refer to matters and objects relevant to the domestic or women’s sphere, and then, to women, generally.

At the symposium Jessica Dallow will explore how the objects/tools in this contemporary show operate differently from those transformed by the feminist artists of the 1970s, Jeffreen Hayes will discuss images of African American labor in visual culture and Rickie Solinger will provide the curatorial context.

Support for this symposium has been provided in part by the Department of History and the Women’s Studies Program at Ithaca College. An illustrated exhibition catalogue featuring an essay by Susan Strasser (University of Delaware) and an introduction by Rickie Solinger is available. Curated by Rickie Solinger, “reimagining the distaff toolkit” will be on display through March 6.

All Handwerker Gallery events are free and open to the public. Gallery hours are Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Thursday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and weekends, noon to 5 p.m. The gallery is closed to the public on Tuesdays but can accommodate group tours by appointment.

For more information, visit or call the Handwerker Gallery at (607) 274–3018.