Molly Bolick examining a handmade prom dress during an interview with a weaver in Harrisburg, PA.
Pennsylvania Folklife Archives, 2011
This summer, I had the opportunity to intern with Pennsylvania Folklife Archives in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, with folklorist Amy Skillman. It was an incredible experience and I found myself at an intersection of ideas and work crucial to my personal and professional life. My main project was assisting with a sewing, textile, and fabric arts circle for refugee and immigrant folk artists in the Harrisburg area. The project worked to bring women together to work on their craft, but the aim was also multilayered: the project was provided a space for women share ideas among their ethnic crafting traditions, and most importantly, build community among traditional craft artists in the area. There were also American-born artists from the area and the inclusion of non-immigrant and refugee women proved to be a beautiful way to facilitate this.
To put together the circle, I conducted interviews with women who would possibly be interested from a list of community contacts. I truly loved listening to the women's stories. The project, at the time I left, included Pakistani, Chinese, Karen Burmese, Native American, and American-born women. It was a wonderful mixture of ethnic traditions and people.
The project also allowed me to work in areas that are extremely important to me—with women and women's traditions and with refugee and immigrant populations. I have a background in labor activism and women's reproductive and social justice. And, since moving to Bowling Green, Kentucky, for graduate school, I have started working with immigrants and refugees. Heading into my final year in the master's program, I feel my summer work fit the department's idealized goal of an internship—to work and get experience in an aspect of the field that I feel passionately about and would love to work with in the future.