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My Life with Scarves, Part I


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My Life with Scarves, Part I

Scottie Kersta-Wilson

I have searched our entire 700 sq. foot space and cannot find my childhood scrapbook, so I can only conclude that it grew legs and walked out. But imagine if you will, the vintage scarf pictured in the banner, tied over the head and under the chin of the small hula-hooper on the right. You've just pictured my first appearance with a scarf, or kerchief, as we called them then.   

Notice that I also mixed plaids and flowers . . . I was a trend-setter even at such an early age. But, still as the oldest child, I was not the "power-seeker" type referenced in a brilliant article I found last week in Fortune, written by Nancy Deihl, Director of MA Program in Costume Studies at NYU. The article, Are scarves the new 'power' accessory for women?, takes a comment from the BBC about the seemingly "simple form of adornment" and explains the long history of scarves as a prestigious symbol for women. I was just a girl whose Mom (who also wore a kerchief) wanted to keep her ears warm during chilly weather.

The subject of scarves and their popularity or not, is of the utmost importance to me at this point in my life: I have just launched my newest collection of silk story scarves. And, the question I am asked most frequently is, "Why scarves?"

I could be flip and reply, "Why not," but my love of fabric, photography, and storytelling goes way back. The vintage scarf you see above is just one of the many that have come and gone from my closet. I've worn them around my head, around my purse straps, and around my waist in lieu of a belt.

And as far as my photography and storytelling, that's been going on for over 40 years. As my photography skills developed (pun intended), the stories about the pictures took on an added urgency. You see, I photograph and photocollage images of my family's military background as a way of visualizing and then expressing my feelings and stories about family, war, unintended consequences, and travel - issues I have found that touch many lives.

So what first started out as printing flowers and cemeteries (every burgeoning photographer photographs cemeteries) on photo paper slowly morphed into combining text and images to create something new all together. That meant looking for new ways to print.

And then I considered silk as a medium. As for the rest . . . Part II next week.

Ms. Deihl's article first appeared in The Conversation with the title, A scarf can mean many things - but above all, prestige.