Marsha MacDowell, Michigan State University

Art Art History Professor East Lansing, Michigan macdowel@msu.edu Office: (517) 355-6511

Bio/Research

Dr. MacDowell has, for many years, been primarily engaged in the documentation and analysis of the production, meaning, and use of traditional material culture (especially that of Hmong-Americans, Native Americans, South Africans, and women); the analysis of the role of museums in contemporary so...

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Bio/Research

Dr. MacDowell has, for many years, been primarily engaged in the documentation and analysis of the production, meaning, and use of traditional material culture (especially that of Hmong-Americans, Native Americans, South Africans, and women); the analysis of the role of museums in contemporary society; and the development of educational resources and public arts policies related to traditional arts. Her work, as a publicly-engaged scholar, is grounded in an interdisciplinary approach to material culture and is informed primarily by art historical, folkloristic, and ethnographic theories and methodologies. She has been particularly interested in developing research projects in collaboration with representatives of the communities and cultural groups and in being engaged in projects that have a positive impact on identified societal needs.



Current research projects include a study on the history and contemporary South Africa quiltmaking; historical and contemporary Great Lakes Native quilting, quillwork, and basketmaking traditions; the impact of the 1930s-era The Detroit News Quilt Show and WWJ radio quilt show on quiltmaking in Michigan; the history and meaning of Michigan community history quilts; the development of Native basketmaking organizations in the U.S.; identification and oral history documentation of key leaders of the late 20th-century quilt revival in the U.S.; development of web-based curriculum materials related to community-based knowledge; creating tools to access and use digital collections of traditional arts; and developing standards for video oral histories.


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