May 1, 2020
Recently, the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching (CRLT) announced that Annica Cuppetelli, artist and Lecturer II at the Stamps School, is a recipient of the 2020 Provost’s Teaching Innovation Prize for her project, “Inspiring Disciplinary Innovations and Inclusive Teaching With Gender Neutral Fibers-Based Arts Initiative.”
According to Cuppetelli, the Gender-Neutral Fibers Initiative is a framework that is responsive but not limited to Fiber Arts, encouraging students to collectively question established gender roles in the medium through classroom activities enabling students to understand and address this issue on their own terms.
“The impetus for creating the initiative comes from the way that gender is addressed in my artistic medium, Fiber Arts, and its closely related disciplines of textile design and garment-making,” Cuppetelli said.
“The garment industry’s perpetuation of gender binaries may seem obvious, in that the industry has long established conventions for how men and women should look and should hold their bodies. In this history, women function as frames for aesthetic display and men as mobile agents, with no variation in between. Fiber work and textiles are different, as these activities have been historically associated with “women’s work.” This association led Feminist thinkers and artists to re-appropriate those techniques in the Fiber Arts medium during the mid 20th c., turning it into a center of critical activity that sought to reframe the role of the medium, and of women, in a male-dominated art world. While this political project was a necessary outgrowth of the Feminist movement, it also served to reify the traditional gender binaries, which are increasingly coming into question. Given this background, and to address the growing interest students have about non-binary and gender- fluid approaches, I introduced the G-N Fibers Initiative into my courses to create expressive outlets for students to explore gender issues.”
Cuppetelli hopes that her project changes the way students perceive gender rolls—and make the arts a site for inclusivity. “The larger goal would be to take the core ideas of this initiative and apply them to disciplines outside of the arts that struggle with gender disparities, hopefully making education a more equitable and inclusive endeavor,” she said.
The purpose of the Provost’s Teaching Innovation Prize is to honor faculty who have developed innovative approaches to teaching that incorporate creative pedagogies. Criteria for evaluation includes originality, impact, replicability, and scalability.
Image: Annica Cuppetelli