A Life’s Work: Fran Hosken, 1920–2006

Visual Art/Design


"A Life’s Work" is a multi-tiered research, exhibition, and publication project around the life of Fran Hosken, one of the first female graduates of Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, later an independent designer, and ultimately an important advocate for women’s sexual health. Her papers are in the Harvard Graduate School of Design and Schlesinger Libraries, but little work has been done on her. Through Hosken we glimpse a potential, alternative canon for mid-century American design, but also the experience of a professional woman in that time. I'll be working to thoroughly research her work and put together an exhibition and publication of her life's work.

I will need help with all aspects of research within the GSD archives and Schlesinger Library, as well as outside of Harvard. The student will help look for items related to Hosken's furniture design that may exist in private collections. It would be great to have someone with some basic research skills, decent organizational capabilities, and minor computer Illustrator or Photoshop familiarity. The student should have an interest in design, architecture, or art and should have a positive enthusiastic approach to all kinds of investigation and searching!

Working with students is something that always enhances any project by widening the scope of references and areas of interest. I learn from different approaches and different attitudes. A younger approach to research would be exciting and a student's frame of reference will open up avenues that are unknown to me.

The student will benefit from the research project by seeing all ins and outs of an artistic studio practice, witness to every detail from the beginning to the end. There is real opportunity to learn about all aspects of historical research, specific design history, book layout, publication, and exhibition design. If the student has interests in art, there is a lot of opportunity to engage with a variety of materials and to learn about the planning stages of art making from the initial drawing and design, to woodworking, model making, and a variety of object construction.