Magenta Starts BWX’s “Museum of Everyday,” Inspired by Icelandic Museum

From the earliest brainstorming sessions for the Cloth Arc, we’ve found that cloth is inextricably tied to metaphor and story — we cannot help but think of the many ways which cloth (and fabric, threads, and more) carries meaning in our conversations. The “moral fabric of our nation,” “weaving of a story or spinning a tale,” finding a “common thread” and more. To deepen our exploration of this connection, we started to discuss creating stories of meaning and how the things we wear carry meaning.

Paired Storytelling

Story of Our Clothes — Storytelling Workshop

First, we had 60 seconds to share a story about an article of clothing with a partner. After each partner had shared within their pair, we joined pairs into groups of four. In these double pairs, we shared what we remembered of our partner’s story (partially a challenge in memory and listening and partially an opportunity to hear your story told back to you). We then had a whole-band discussion about what makes a good short story and what our challenges we had in telling our stories.

Best parts of stories:

  • Unique Experiences
  • Specific Details
  • Make people laugh
  • Stories with emotions, sentimental value, meaning or nostalgia
  • Context to action (set the stage)

Problems with our stories:

  • Need to create meaning
  • Rambling
  • No context
  • Lies
  • Keeping forward motion to the story (linear action)
  • Time management and flow

Sharing stories

Museum of Everyday, Ísafjörður

Ísafjörður, Iceland and the Museum of Everyday

Ísafjörður is the largest city in the Westfjord region of Iceland, but in many ways, it is a very small town (it doesn’t even have any stop lights!). It is surrounded by steep mountains and the cold North Atlantic and it is so close to the North Pole that during summer the sun is visible 24-hours a day and in the winter it is dark all day long.

Many residents of Ísafjörður used to be fishermen, traders or farmers from nearby villages. In recent decades and after the 2008 economic collapse, both the farming and fishing industries faced many challenges and many Icelanders moved to the cities to look for other work. One innovative and new industry for Ísafjörður is using fish skins to produce medical bandages for burn victims.

Jay, a high school collaborator, traveled to Ísafjörður and was inspired by a museum he found there. In the Museum of Everyday, he found a wall of shoes with headphones for people to listen to stories shared by the owner of the shoes. The shoes and stories were collected from people living in Ísafjörður to allow tourist to learn about life in current day Iceland. We were given permission to share these stories with our students and to make our own museum inspired by their collection.

Creating our Brightworks Museum

After our storytelling workshop, we scripted our stories, edited our work with peer feedback, and then read them into our podcast kit, creating an audio file. We combined our audio files with photos of our clothes to create videos and posted it all to @bwxmuseum on Instagram.