Spanning over a decade, Apron Chronicles: A Patchwork of American Recollections, is finalizing its 16-year traveling exhibit at History Colorado. EllynAnne Geisel, the author and exhibit curator, hopes to bring audiences together through stories of common recollections and memories from an unexpected nostalgic symbol: the apron.
The exhibit features an array of unique aprons, portraits of American families from all backgrounds and storyboards that coordinate with them. Visitors will get a flashback reading the nostalgic stories from those who recollect their childhood upbringing, relating back to a special apron. The narrations in the exhibit convey how aprons evoke a sense of belonging and home. Themes like hope, faith and gratitude are explored through each photograph and its corresponding story. From Christmas traditions to first-generation struggles, the exhibit tells unique stories that may resonate with us in one way or another.
As our current times call for more unity, Geisel hopes to convey how much alike we all are albeit our differences through shared history and nostalgia. “The exhibit then and now offers a respite from a climate of societal outrage and chaos through the unexpected domestic symbol: the apron; the storytellers’ memories triggered by the apron much more about life than fabric, illustrating how much we are more alike than different,” said Geisel.
The exhibit focuses on the importance of hope and connection to one another through similar experiences despite our social, political or economic background. Although the apron may seem like a traditional American past-time, Geisel believes aprons are a subtle yet powerful symbol that reconnects us to our roots, no matter who we are or where we are from.
“What surprised me was that aprons evoke the same emotional reaction from both genders. I hadn’t anticipated that,” explains Geisel.
After launching the traveling exhibit in 2004, three years post-9/11, Geisel’s audience was attracted to the stories as a way to seek connection, which resonates with our current state of affairs. “The climate right now is so divisive about who really belongs here. In the American recollections, quite a few are from first-generations,” explains Geisel, “when it comes to the journey of the human experience we are all in it together.”
An “Apron Archaeologist,” Geisel has been exploring the significance of aprons by collecting American stories related to aprons since 1999.
The Apron Chronicles exhibit will run until May 31 at History Colorado. Tickets to hear Geisel’s thoughts and in-person tours are available.
All photography provided by History Colorado and taken by Kristina Loggia.