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Mary Walker Phillips: "Creative Knitting" and the Cranbrook Experience Open Access

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Mary Walker Phillips's work, 1940s -1970s, exemplifies the "search for form" that Eliel Saarinen, Finnish-American architect and first President of the Cranbrook Academy of Art established as the basis for Cranbrook's progressive, interdisciplinary approach to art education. The nexus between Phillips, knitting, and Cranbrook illustrates Cranbrook's essential role in promoting cross-fertilization between twentieth century industrial design and studio craft. Phillips attended Cranbrook in 1946-1947 and returned in 1960-1963 to obtain her BFA and MFA in weaving and textiles. In the 1960s, Phillips's shift from weaving to knitting and macramé, and from designing prototype textiles for machine production to creating one-of-a-kind works of art, reflected changes the Weaving Department at Cranbrook under Marianne Strengell and Glen Kaufman and broader trends in the fiber medium, documented in the thesis with personal interviews, archival resources and analysis of existing scholarship on Cranbrook and the history of American studio craft.

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