May 6, 2012
12-132

Jessica Pope
Communications Specialist

VSU Interior Design Professor to Study Weaving in Peru

 

VALDOSTA -- An assistant professor in Valdosta State University’s Department of Art, Dr. Jessica Goldsmith will travel to Peru in May to continue her study of indigenous weaving practices.

Goldsmith was recently awarded a $5,000 VSU Faculty Research Seed Grant, which will be used to fund her research. She will travel to Peru on May 14, visiting three towns -- Lima, Cusco, and Chinchero -- and expanding previous research into the indigenous, pre-Columbian traditions of weaving and spatial use by weavers in the Andean highlands of southern Peru. She will return to the United States on May 24.

In Cusco and Chinchero, Goldsmith noted that she will meet with Quechua weavers and study contemporary, local indigenous weaving practices. Her objectives will be to document current weaving spatial uses, participate in weaving with indigenous weavers, and meet with local weaving leaders.

“This activity will expand our knowledge of how indigenous weavers utilize weaving spaces,” she explained in her grant application. “Previous research into indigenous weaving practices has primarily focused on woven products. This research has intellectual merit because it will expand past research by documenting in the field how indigenous weavers interact with their spatial environment.”

As both an interior designer and a practicing hand-weaver, Goldsmith said that she is uniquely suited to study both how indigenous weavers use space and what they produce in those spaces.

“Indigenous Andean weaving practices, including tools and materials, pre-date the … (Spanish conquest of the Inca Empire) …,” she said. “Therefore, contemporary Andean weavers provide a unique opportunity to study how a traditional craft has survived into the modern era ….”

By going into the field and working with Andean weavers, Goldsmith will be able to record how and where Andean weavers are working today, what they are creating, how they are preserving their weaving heritage, how they are using their work, and how they are using heritage tourism to interact with weavers around the world. She noted that these indigenous weavers have banded together in an effort to maintain their fiber arts traditions, forming a weaving cooperative, providing market access, and hosting classes for local and international weavers.

“The research project is particularly significant at this time because of increasing efforts to preserve indigenous Andean cultures,” she said. “This research can inform ongoing efforts by proposing that, in addition to crafts, language, costume, and foods, how interior spaces are used is also part of a culture’s living heritage. Awareness of indigenous people’s interactions with space may preserve their spatial interaction from accidentally changing and becoming absorbed into the dominant culture.”

Goldsmith’s past research into indigenous weaving practices has been presented at three conferences and in an accepted peer-reviewed journal article. She noted that her research in this field is and will continue to be of interest to interior designers; environmental psychologists; architectural, design, and craft historians; as well as anthropologists.

An assistant professor of interior design at VSU since 2008, Goldsmith graduated from the University of Florida with a Bachelor of Interior Design in 2006, a Master of Interior Design in 2007, and a Doctor of Philosophy in design, construction, and planning in 2012.

To learn more about the Faculty Research Seed Grant program, please visit Valdosta State University’s Office of Sponsored Programs and Research Administration online at www.valdosta.edu/ospra or call (229) 259-5045.

To learn more about Jessica Goldsmith’s research into indigenous weaving practices, please contact her at (229) 333-5855 or jmgoldsmith@valdosta.edu.