Costumes at the Conference

Costumes at the Conference

Mary Ann Scherr Costumes

Kent State University Students in costume for the jewelry presentation of Mary Ann Scherr at the American Crafts Council's eighth national conference, held in Winston-Salem, North Carolina from June 6–12, 1977

We are having a thoroughly enjoyable time going through our archives, print and digital, about the American Craft Council and our past conferences in preparation for the Library Lab at Present Tense, ACC’s conference in Omaha, October 13–15. We will be bringing some pictures and programs from past conferences, and we’re sharing some of our favorites online. This one is a doozy.

We wanted to find more information about this wonderfully bizarre photo, which is of Kent State University students in costume for the jewelry presentation of Mary Ann Scherr at our eighth national conference, held in Winston-Salem in 1977. Looking through our archives, we found the following essay by Richard Pompian, editor of the Northeast Gazette, a publication of ACC's Northeast Regional Assembly. Find Pompian's essay quoted in full below. Enjoy! (Note: Costumes are not required for our upcoming conference in Omaha.)

“Children reach an age where fantasy and reality blend in the most interesting ways, and it was our privilege to both cause and watch such an interaction.”

The speaker was Betsy Douglas, one of six strangely costumed Ohioans appearing at the American Craft Council’s National Conference in Winston-Salem, N.C. June 7-11. The six are students in a body adornment class given by Mary Ann Scherr, wife of Sam Scherr, ACC’s new president.

The head-to-toe costumes were inspired by everything from ancient Mayan civilization to science fiction. And while they turned the head of many – including Joan Mondale, wife of the Vice President and a potter in her own right – it was the younger audience who reacted most viscerally to the experience.

I’ll treasure it always,” said Betsy. “There we were – six weird-looking beings standing in the lobby of Wake Forest University’s Fine Arts Center. And there they were – four children age six to ten, staring at us and not quite believing, but not quite disbelieving either.

“Finally, curiousity [sic] overcame concern. The eldest boy approached me tentatively, then drew himself up to full height and demanded: ‘What planet are you from?’”

“I’m not from a planet; I’m from an asteroid,” said Betsy, referring to the thousands of tiny bodies orbiting between Mars and Jupiter.

“What’s your name?” asked the small earthling.

“Mizzlefritz,” said Betsy. Apparently satisfied, he turned and brought up the next oldest, a boy of eight, for introductions.

“Our interrogator then moved on to Rick Siley, whose 6’4” costumed frame was truly awesome. Topped with spikes, Rick looked like a cross between the Statue of Liberty and a gigantic sea monster. The young man was suddenly struck speechless, but before terror could take over, Rick bowed low (taking care not to impale his new acquaintance) and solemnly shook hands.

“Finally convinced that we were friendly, our young friend strutted past me, taking my hand and commanding: ‘Come along – I want you to meet my sister.’"

Throwback Thursday is a weekly series highlighting visuals from the American Craft Council Library's Digital Collections database. Check back on Thursdays for more.