Craft & Material Studies


Alison Kowalski

Adjunct Faculty

PhD in progress, Kingston University
MA, Bard Graduate Center
BFA, Pratt Institute

Research Interests:

Alison studies design, craft, and art from the late nineteenth century to present day. Her research focus is domestic interiors, clothing, and graphics, especially material culture related to women’s issues and national identity.

Professional Experience:

Alison is currently writing her dissertation on Pipsan Saarinen Swanson, a Detroit designer and craftsperson who was active from the 1920s into the 1970s. Alison is working under the supervision of Professors Pat Kirkham and Penny Sparke in the Modern Interiors Research Centre at Kingston University, London.

Prior to moving to Detroit in 2016 to begin dissertation research, Alison lived in New York. She started out working as a pattern-maker in the fashion industry and then as a 3D modeler in the jewelry industry. After earning her master's degree, she worked for a number of institutions, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Arts and Design, the Bard Graduate Center Gallery, Phillips auction house, and Questroyal Fine Art. Alison has taught history, research, and studio classes at Parsons School of Design, Drexel University, and Rutgers University. In addition to CCS, she teaches at Wayne State University.

Significant Publications/Presentations/Exhibitions:


•“The Pursuit of Art and Professionalism: Dressmaking, Millinery, and Costume Design at Pratt Institute, 1888–1904.” Journal of Design History 31, no. 4 (November 2018): 305–327.
•“Introduction.” Paintings from the Jack Warner Foundation. New York: Questroyal Fine Art, 2016.
•“Art in Everyday Lifeand the Do-It-Yourself Soviet Fashion of Nadezhda Lamanova.” MA thesis, Bard Graduate Center, 2014.
•Contributor, “Selected Biographies.” In An American Style: Global Sources for New York Textile and Fashion Design, 1915-1928, by Ann Marguerite Tartsinis. New York: Bard Graduate Center, 2013.

Conference Papers

•Design History Society, New York (September 2018): “‘Nordic Modern of the Midwest’: Pipsan Saarinen Swanson’s 1955 Model Home for LIFE Magazine”
•Design History Society, San Francisco (September 2015): “Folk for the Future: The Early Soviet Dress of Nadezhda Lamanova”
•The Association of Dress Historians, London (July 2014): “Counterfashion of the Nigilistka: Female Defiance of Convention and Law in 1860s Russia”