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A group of people standing on top of a grass covered field

Solving for X = Identity | Sharing Matrilineal Memories at WSU

January 21, 2021 — May 8, 2021

Solving for X is a series of exhibitions organized by the Ulrich Museum of Art in collaboration with university scholars across campus. The intent of the Museum is to work with WSU scholars in all disciplines to create visualizations of their research. The objective is to explore the potential for the Museum to make accessible to the public the fascinating and important research taking place on campus. We are thrilled by the opportunity to work with WSU researchers and excited about the challenges we will face together in discovering how to create visual pathways to understanding.

Cheyla Clawson was originally inspired to create this project from her grandmother who shared her stories of growing up in rural Kansas.  “I failed to capture her stories in her own words while she was still alive.”  This inspired the collaborative work “Matrilineage.” In the spring of 2020 eight dance majors interviewed their mothers, grandmothers and in some cases great grandmothers and asked about their memories of the homes they grew up in.  The dance students used the interview materials to create dances that captured unique memories. The project ended in a performance that included voiced-over recordings of the interviews. This led to preserving and telling the stories of important women in the Wichita community in assisted living communities.  “Kansas Lineage” is currently in progress and grant funded by the Regional Institute of Aging.

“Sharing Matrilineal Memories at WSU,” the fourth exhibition in the Solving for X series is participatory, focused on collecting memories of home for WSU students, faculty and staff. It is a collaboration with Cheyla Clawson, Associate Director of the School of Performing Arts and Assistant Professor of Dance and Dr. Twyla Hill Professor of Sociology. They are asking us to answer two questions: (1) What do you remember about your mother’s home? (2) What do you remember about your grandmother’s home? The form is located at and uploading photos and other memorabilia is encouraged. All submitted stories and images will be included in this Solving for X exhibition and on display in the Ulrich’s Grafly Gallery.

Professor Clawson shares her memories . . .

What do you remember about your mother's home?
My mother's home had many shades of brown and orange. I remember the smells of musk perfume and Virginia Slim cigarettes. My mother's home was cozy and carpeted. Dinners consisted of meat, a vegetable, and often peaches and cottage cheese. My mother's home was comfort and swimming all summer and living on the main drag in a small Kansas town.

What do you remember about your grandmother's home?
My grandmother served my grandfather dinner in the den so he could watch TV. She went to bed with a red plastic cup of water by her bedstead (she slept separately from my grandpa) and wore a polyester red nightgown. Her house was acceptance and unconditional love. Sleepovers meant she would rub my back until I fell asleep. There was always homemade food.

Banner: Cheyla Clawson, She Moved the Prairie, 2020. Film still. Photo credit: Nora Dooley

Monday-Saturday 11am-5pm 
Closed Sundays, University & Major Holidays | Free Admission | 316.978.3664
1845 Fairmount; Wichita, KS 67260-0046