Meet Beth C. McLaughlin
Beth is Chief Curator at Fuller Craft Museum in Brockton, Massachusetts. Beth is passionate about expanding awareness of art forms in all media, promoting the makers, and exploring the transformative powers of creative expression. Most recently, Beth’s curatorial practice has explored the ways in which handwork can be used as a tool for political resistance.
What do you know for sure?
Lately, I’ve been thinking about the aging process and the resultant expectations of women. What I know for sure is that just because we age we don’t have to compromise who we are – how we dress, how we wear our hair, what music we listen to, what activities we pursue. Society wants us to believe that female aging is an assignment for invisibility and de-sexualization; women are encouraged to dye their hair or cut it short, cover up their skin, hide their curves. But we don’t have to accept the downgrade. One of the most badass things a woman can do is to age and refuse to fade into the wallpaper.
What do you believe?
Believing in something is important, isn’t it? Not matter how small or how big. I believe in second chances. I believe in manners. I believe nothing beats a gin and tonic on a hot summer afternoon. I believe we all have the capacity for creativity. I believe every woman is solely responsible for her reproductive health and decisions about her body. I believe in cuss words. I believe teenagers can super fun. I believe teenagers can totally suck. I believe in making my bed every day. I believe in the power of forgiveness. I believe coffee is life.
What is your favorite song?
Here Comes the Sun by the Beatles. It’s such a simple and positive song. Just recently, I learned it was written by George Harrison in Eric Clapton’s garden on a sunny April morning at the end of a long winter in England. That’s something I can relate to living in the Northeast!
What new thing have you learned lately?
Stitching! Last month, I learned how to embroider at a Badass HERstory Stitch-Up. I’m a craft curator, and my dirty little secret had long been that I had never wielded a needle and thread, so I figured it was time to finally learn. As I stitched, I felt more connected to the makers whose work I had studied over the years and to those who have used needlecraft as a form of empowerment and resistance. But even more so, I felt deeply connected to those in my own family that created objects with their hands, and that’s something I had taken for granted for most of my life.
Tell us about an epic “first.”
In 2018, I went to Burning Man for the first time. Burning Man is a weeklong art event where participants erect a temporary city in the middle of the Nevada dessert. The conditions are extreme, and as one that likes creature comforts – running water, temperature control, refrigeration, my own bed – I was terrified to go. But I also felt it was important to experience something completely outside the realm of my life as a mom, wife, daughter, curator, caregiver, etc. From arriving in a dust storm to roller skating in the middle of the desert to engaging with spectacular works of art, the experience shifted my perspective in many ways, and that “first” has turned into an annual pilgrimage.
Photo Credit: Juan Zapata