Denise Green – 2022 Cornell Biennial

Denise Nicole Green and CF+TC

Threads of Life, Love, & Loss: An HIV/AIDS Story

Articles of Displacement

Exhibition | Documentary


  • Aug 15 - Dec 2, 2022
    Reception: Oct 13, 2022 5-7p
    Human Ecology Building: Level T Display Cases

  • Oct 4 - Oct 21, 2022
    Reception: Oct 4, 2022 4:30-5:30p
    Martha van Rensselaer Hall Gallery

  • Denise Green Faculty Page

Threads of Life, Love, & Loss: An HIV/AIDS Story

Threads of Life, Love, & Loss: An HIV/AIDS Story is a collaboration between the Cornell Fashion + Textile Collection and the Human Sexuality Collection that explores how dress, textiles, and archives can be activated in the struggle for health equity amidst on ongoing global health crisis that has lasted more than 40 years and robbed families, friends, and communities of upwards of 40 million lives. We tell one story of many affected by the HIV/AIDS pandemic, Mark Goldstaub (1951 – 1988), his partner Edmund Wojcik (1955 – 1995) and the many lives they touched, to show how cloth and creative expression have the transformative potential to raise awareness, record histories, memorialize, destigmatize, and make positive change in the world.  We reanimate love, life, and loss using curatorial praxis, ethnographic exploration, and documentary filmmaking. Catalogued pasts become unfolding futures that (re)connect the living and the dead through extant fashions, activist accessories, archival documents, film, photography, musical compositions, and panels from The NAMES Project, National AIDS Memorial Quilt. The exhibition is curated by Denise Nicole Green (Cornell Fashion + Textile Collection, College of Human Ecology), Michael Mamp (Department of Textiles, Apparel Design and Merchandising, Louisiana State University), and Brenda Marston (Human Sexuality Collection, Cornell University Library). Funded in part by the Cornell Council for the Arts, Laurie Conrad Music and Arts Fund of Community Foundation of Tompkins County, Department of Human Centered Design, College of Human Ecology, Cornell University Library, and the Cornell Fashion + Textile Collection.

Articles of Displacement

How will relationships to plants, place, family, community, and nation shift as populations are forced into motion by climate change? What becomes of local communities, ideas about naturalization and Indigeneity, social and cultural identities, and at a fundamental level, connections to landscapes, atmospheric conditions, seasonal cycles, and shared environments with flora and fauna? Denise Nicole Green approaches the Biennial theme of “Futurities, Uncertain” by designing a naturally dyed fashion collection that challenges some of the colonial and capitalist regimes that have produced the global climate crisis: industrialization of fiber production through large scale agriculture, corporate chemical engineering, synthetic dyeing and printing processes, and the mass-manufacture of clothing. In Green’s work, bio-based dyestuffs guide the textile design process; garments follow in response to anticipated environmental conditions, bodily movement, and desires of the wearer. She uses food waste, invasive species, plant pests, local fauna, and dyestuffs grown in small gardens to print and dye two different polyamides: silk and nylon. While these fibers share similar chemistry, their production and impact on the environment is dramatically different.  Petroleum-based nylon was the first commercially successful thermoplastic polymer and shaped the landscape of industrial manufacturing in the mid-20thcentury. Blending nylon with spandex accelerated the growth of activewear apparel since the 1970s. Unlike silk, which is easily weakened by UV light, heat, and abrasion, nylon is one of the most durable fibers. By using one of the culprits of climate change, the collection addresses the inescapability of industrial capitalism’s penumbra and the products innovated under these regimes. Dressing for the uncertainties that changing weather patterns, altered landscapes, and shifting communities pose will require a new approach to design that centers longevity, multi-functionality, self-determination, desire, and delight. By rebuilding connections to plants and other raw materials required for dyeing, creating inter-reliant systems of production through co-design, and employing some of the products of the plight, Green has created a collection that imagines a future where design is a collective, material, embodied, inter-species, place-making, and community-creating endeavor.

Denise Nicole Green (United States)

Denise Nicole Green is an Associate Professor of Fashion Design & Management in the College of Human Ecology and Director of the Cornell Fashion + Textile Collection (CF+TC). Professor Green’s research uses ethnography, video production, archival methods, design, and curatorial practice to explore production of fashion, textiles, and identities. She is also a faculty member in the American Indian and Indigenous Studies Program, the Cornell Institute of Archaeology and Material Studies, and the American Studies Program, as well as a graduate field member in Anthropology and Fiber Science and Apparel Design at Cornell. Her textile design work has been featured in New York Fashion Week, and her award-winning documentary films, curated exhibitions, and fashion designs have been celebrated internationally. Professor Green has authored numerous journal articles and book chapters and is co-author (with Susan B. Kaiser) of Fashion and Cultural Studies (2022), co-editor (with Kelly-Reddy Best) of “Curatorial Reflections,” a special issue of Critical Studies in Fashion and Beauty, and (with Susan B. Kaiser) “Fashion and Appropriation,” a special issue of Fashion, Style, and Popular Culture (2017). She teaches classes on fiber, textile, and apparel production in South Asia; fashion curation; anthropology of dress and appearance; and visual literacy, design thinking, and fashion history.

Professor Green earned a PhD in Socio-Cultural Anthropology from the University of British Columbia. With the Ethnographic Film Unit at UBC and Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations communities, she directed a series of documentary films exploring textiles, identity, and Aboriginal title, which were recently incorporated into the renovation of the Northwest Coast Hall in the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. Prior to her work on the Northwest Coast, Professor Green earned a Master of Science in Textiles from the University of California-Davis where she researched fashion and gender expression at the Burning Man Festival. During her undergraduate program at Cornell University she studied fashioned youth subcultures and completed an honors thesis about redesigning 4-H clothing club curriculum for the 21st century.

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