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From The Historian's Desk
Lida Ives honored by UConn

By Edith Schoell, State Historian

  MARCH 2009 --

During the past few weeks hooked rugs made by Lida Ives have been on display at the Babbidge Library at the University of Connecticut at Storrs.  The exhibit will end March 6th.

I, for one, was not aware of Lida Ives’ talents and was so informed several months ago when Kathy Stephens, her granddaughter, called the Central Office regarding a possible display of the handiwork.  Although Lida Ives was busy in Grange work she was able to hook rugs.  There are over 180 pieces owned by family members as well as a small display at the Morris Historical Society.
Lida Ives was married to Sherman K. Ives, State Master, and raised five children.  She was Chairman of the National Home Economics Committee for 1942-1944.  She also held the office of Master in her Grange and was secretary of Mountain County Pomona Grnage for 18 years.

From the Exhibition Brochure:
An Accidental Artist:  The Hooked Rugs of Lida Skilton Ives
How does one define a life?  What of our accomplishments will survive to tell future generations who we were?  Lida Skilton Ives (1902-1988) was a prominent western Connecticut citizen of the mid-20th century; a mother, businesswoman, community historian, writer, Grange leader… and “rugger.”
Prompted by the thrift-minded WPA era and inspired by the Arts and Crafts movement, Lida eventually hooked a substantial, but never fully documented, number of rugs from the 1940s through the 1970s, using recycled woolens and simple burlap backing.
Unlike her other very public endeavors, of which she was unabashedly proud, Lida hooked constantly in the background, anonymously, never touting her now well recognized creative accomplishments.  Unfortunately, and again indicative of how she viewed her artistic efforts, most of her pieces were never signed, adding to the mystery of this enigmatic woman.
Although Lida married a UConn alumnus and was the mother of four UConn graduates (and the grandmother or great grandmother of three others), she never earned a college degree- one of her life regrets.  Ironically, she has finally made her UConn debut through her rugs.
The rugs on display are a sampling of more than 180 surviving pieces owned by family members from several states.  A small collection is also housed at the Morris Connecticut Historical Society.  The exhibit is dedicated to Lida’s daughter, Virginia, and to the memory of Lida’s son-in-law and Virginia’s husband, Dr. Jack E. Stephens, emeritus professor of engineering, University of Connecticut.
When you see Lida’s work, you be the judge:  utilitarian or artist, or perhaps to her surprise, both.  – Kathy Stephens Borzeman, Montana

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