Flashback Friday: Focus on design and culture in Prof. Katrina Funk’s class

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Friday, November 27th, 2015

In Professor Katrina Funk’s Design and Visual Culture art history class at Pennsylvania College of Art & Design, the art students have been talking about design movements from Art Deco to Mid Century Modern, focusing on housewares, clothing and collectibles from 1920-1960.

Design of the times: 1920-1960

For a recent class, I brought in a selection of glasswares, clothing, shoes, pins, cookware such as pyrex, a 1950’s armchair, magazines, and advertisements ranging from this time period. With the help of PCA&D Alumni Rose Nutter, who owns Black Kat Kollectibles in Bird in Hand, PA, the students were able to hold and interact with the objects rather than just see slides or book images.

Holding design history in their hands

Students were invited to feel various fabrics, hold personal cookware, and even sit in a chair from the 50’s. This was a unique experience for the students to hold a piece of design history, and get a chance to see the design and style elements from these popular eras in American culture up close and personal.

The students had a blast, and even tried on a 1960’s hunting sweater. It was a great time, and I would love to do this again! Here are some comments from the students:

“I think we were all amazed by the amount of detail that went into making the clothes. The details in the hunting jacket and the padding was really interesting, along with all the details of the dresses.” — Steven Jennings


“I was worried I would break something, but it was really cool to touch the glasses and feel the indents of the original process. The vase made me want to touch it, but I was terrified of breaking it. I was in awe of some of the items.” –Alicia Brooks


“It was nice to get to interact with the objects outside of a flattened slide. It helped us to appreciate the way things were made, as well as really neat to see some older locally sourced objects.” –Jezabeth Gonzalez

The Design and Visual Culture class is one of of the Art History classes offered by the Liberal Arts Department. At PCA&D, the Liberal Arts curriculum plays a significant role in a student’s overall experience. Students take 42 credits or 14 classes in the Liberal Arts Department. While there is a strong focus on art history and communication, students also take courses in the sciences, math, and the humanities.