Quaker Roots Ground Kent Grad in London Experience

On May 9, Autumn Barney graduated summa cum laude from Kent State University with a Bachelor of Arts in fashion. She watched the online ceremony from her rental house in Kent, as her family viewed it from their home in Milford. Her cap and tassel arrived in Milford after the ceremony, a sign of our distorted times. Her celebration party happened over Zoom, gathering guests from as far as Hawaii and Toronto.

Scholarships from Cincinnati Friends Meeting helped Autumn to pursue her dream at one of the top fashion schools in the country. She specialized in menswear and the intersection of music and clothing, with a fondness for the 1960s. While at school, she was a member of the honors college, hosted a popular radio show on fashion and subculture, served on the Student Fashion Organization Board, studied a semester at Regents University in London, and completed internships with Fred Perry in London and with Abercrombie & Fitch in Columbus.

Autumn at work in her studio

Autumn worked three years at the Kent Fashion Museum, a job she loved. She tended the shop and reception desk, earning a promotion as manager to open and close the museum, which houses the collection of Katharine Hepburn. She also worked events, which translated into free food for student workers. Among the events was the debut of the counterculture exhibit commemorating the 50th anniversary of the May 4, 1970 student shootings. She honed her graphic skills for several university organizations, as well as her weekly radio show.

Her final independent project to cap her studies, Stitched Vibrations, fused music and fashion in a geodesic venue. She booked five regional bands and nine designers, including herself, but was forced to improvise with digital videos showcasing the music and art.

Autumn is preparing to move back to Cincinnati this summer to find temporary employment until the job market opens. She is also developing a podcast related to her studies and interests. Her goal is to eventually work or pursue fashion-sociology graduate research in London.

During her 2019 London studies, she visited the Friends Library to view a 1661 tome, A Call to Repentance, written by her Quaker ancestor Dorothea Scott Gotherson. She’d love to be able to visit again. For those interested in Quaker history, Dorothea Scott Gotherson was born a courtesan, but denounced that life after discovering Quakerism. Her diminutive book pleaded with Charles II to tame the flamboyant behavior in court, as in this passage:

And all ye Ladies of England, who walk with stretched-out necks, and wanton eyes, mincing as you go, and making a clattering with your feet, curling your hair, and painting and spotting your faces, wearing gorgeous array, and the like; why consider, when you come to give an account for all things done in the body, where will you appear? For none of this adornes the Gospel; God works none of these works in you or for you; and one day you shall know you have not lived and moved in him, for he is the author of none of this…

Autumn began attending Cincinnati Friends Meeting in April 1999 at the age of 18 months, and later joined as a junior member. During a message on Noah’s ark that rhetorically asked What would you do?, she, as a very young and new attender, broke out singing Rain, Rain Go Away, to the horror of her mother but to the delight of our faith community. She is immortalized in a homily prepared by our former pastor Dan Kasztelan entitled “Everything—or at least lots of things—that I didn’t know about being a pastor I learned from Autumn Barney.” She once insisted that she had a message from God— “Because he was tall and he had long white hair and he was wearing a T-shirt that said GOD and so I knew it was him.”

Dan said she taught him that ministry is creative and “isn’t about what I know or what I believe, but about how I love.”

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