Women’s Art Education According to Stasė Gudonytė-Bizokienė: Personality as a Source of Stories
Keywords:Stase Gudonyte-Bizokiene, Kaunas Women’s Arts and Crafts School, women’s education during the interwar period, crafts education, fashion in the interwar Kaunas
The paper overviews the history of the privately owned Kaunas Women’s Arts and Crafts School (1927–1940), established by the craftswoman Stasė Gudonytė-Biziokienė (1896–1943). Her work is analysed in the context of the interwar arts and crafts education. The school was continuing the tradition of women’s crafts education that formed in the 2nd half of the 19th century. Being part of the interwar elite, Gudonytė-Bizokienė, was considered one of the founders of Lithuanian high fashion. During the period of 1935-1936, the school introduced three additional courses: hat making, women’s fashion, and children’s clothing design and tailoring. The paper uses archival material and memories of family members to present the biography of Gudonytė-Bizokienė. The paper also describes the school with its educational aims, structure, institutional reforms of 1935, and its curriculum. The paper overviews the remaining samples of the students’ work that reflect the interwar ideals of a cosy home space, and feature a mix of art deco and modernised folk style. The significance of the school is demonstrated by tracing the careers of its graduates in the general context of arts and crafts education of the time. Apart from Kaunas Art School and Dotnuva Academy of Agriculture (1924–1945), Kaunas Women’s Arts and Crafts School was the only higher education establishment with speciality in arts. The school’s aims matched the Lithuanian demands. Gudonytė-Bizokienė’s tailoring courses were on par with the educational programs of the notable tailors of the interwar Kaunas. The paper concludes that it was the artistic crafts that Gudonytė-Bizokienė saw as her main goal, while the fashion salons were only an appendage to her educational work. Crafts education was credited with a higher status in the Lithuanian schools of vocational education. However small, the group of the school’s graduates that the re- search was able to identify demonstrates excellent professional skills and readiness to work in the sphere of crafts education.