Olive (Fink) Risch and the Cross Country Weavers: An Archival and Ethnographic Study
Under the direction of Gabrielle Berlinger, (advisor) and Bernard Herman, Patricia Sawin, and Namita Gupta Wiggers (committee members)
Abstract: Studies on group and transmission often omit the affective dimensions which imbue the process of community formation, maintenance, and continuity with purpose and pleasure. This case study on Olive (Fink) Risch’s involvement with the national, mail-based Cross Country Weavers from 1962 until at least 1967 provides an apt opportunity to mend this oversight. By applying collaborative ethnographic methodologies to her archival collection, this essay identifies seven qualities of relationality—reciprocity, presence, belonging, veneration, narration, stewardship, and remembrance—which indicate the co-constitutive processes of social connection and weaving scholarship. Furthermore, the wide geographic distance between group participants provides an example of effective distanced-learning practices, certainly relevant now due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Danielle Burke is an artist and folklorist. She studies textiles, craft pedagogy, and artist communities; her studio practice focuses primarily on the process of weaving.
She is currently a PhD candidate in Design Studies with a focus in History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.