Saturday, December 22, 2007

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Bird Flu

I can confidently state that all of my work is consistently a physical portrayal of a personal journey that I am experiencing at the time of its making. Being a young designer and being in a place in my life where I am in a constant state of transition, the content and structure of my work is drastically changing from one theme to the next, nonetheless always developing from the past. Through my passion of garment making, I am given the opportunity to challenge myself and share my thoughts and experiences through the world of fashion. Fashion and clothing are such tangible and accessible ways for people to converse on what is going on around them and within themselves. The essential role of the designer is to do simply that; to make aware through garment making, the journeys and happenings of what exists inside and outside of them. Whether that involves personal, social, or political interests, it is up to the designer to share.
The past few months, starting with the beginning of the summer, has been the start of a truly eye opening experience for me. I began confronting and discovering many facets of myself that have been pushed so far down, convincing myself almost completely of its unimportance. Due to fear and ignorance, my inner demons have remained fairly dormant, only deciding to come up sporadically and rapidly fermenting along the way. I began to address many personal discomforts and seeing distinct patterns within my family and myself and I had only touched the surface of before. What I had earnestly been starting to confront was this constant state of anxiety that is perpetually at my side. It likes to come forth more fervently at times, or is more subdued at others, but its existence remains with me always. There is not one single cause for its presence, as with most psychological characteristics, but the one thing that I have learned to accept is that it is and always will be a constituent of myself.
Every human mind is plagued with grief, guilt, penance, and mourning. When these natural reactions begin to dwell and prolong their stay of normalcy, they begin to consume and engross all thoughts. It is as though the body and mind become separate entities, anxiety level rises, there becomes a lack of control of the natural ability to communicate and sometimes cause one to reach the point of insanity. There is a repetitive act of giving and feeding to these contained emotions and what is around us, though it becomes entirely circuitously self-destructive. There becomes a point where there is nothing left to give and what remains in the self stripped to its most bare form, to its’ true core.
In my collection this year, I am directly addressing the fact that I am in this constant state of conflict. It is as though my mind and body are eternally at war with each other and with themselves. The best way that I have been able to communicate this kind of battle is through a series of masks that I have began to form. Arriving strictly from one continuous thread, the masks appear as lace like structures that share the quality and appearance of a mass of loose hair. Placed over and sometimes around the entire head, the identity of the wearer is obscured, with some irregular openings where the threads have allowed light to come through and the skin and features of the face are visible. Even in these somber, deconstructed forms, beauty can be seen.
Below are some studies of the masks that I created








Friday, December 14, 2007

Artist Statemet

The imagery in my drawings are influenced by my general interests and a subconscious reaction to the world around me at a certain point of time. Although these drawings are sporadic and intuitive I have developed a system of mark-making with line and shape that serves as a language which ties my imagery together. I begin drawing by using this system as a way to trigger my thoughts and create images. The sculpture is inspired by my drawings and the process of making them become these rituals that are very similar to each other. I begin this process by gathering materials such as the bright vinyl and the string that relate to the color palette and line quality in my drawings. Surrounded by these materials i look at them the same way that i would look at the mark-making in my drawings. There is something stimulating and satisfying in the challenge of collecting materials and arranging them in a way that compliment my drawings.

Petting Stole and Collared Sisters



Collared Sisters is a way for myself and my sister to connect over the loss of our Grandmother. Seeing my sister cry at the funeral made me feel a connection to my sister that I had never felt for her before. I wanted to make a garment that could reenact the feelings I've been feeling. My sister and I have never been close but I feel this garment has brought us a little closer.





Petting stole comes from a dream I had after the death of my Grandmother. In the dream there was a woman petting a taxidermied fox. I felt the dream was a communication from my Grandmother because foxes can symbolize the spiritual world as well as messengers. I made the stole so I may take the fox anywhere and find comfort in petting it. I photographed at my childhood home. I feel the stole is a way for myself to connect that spiritual world my Grandmother has now joined.

statement

Ever since I was a little girl, I have loved to sew. However, when I became interested in Art, dress-making was not a part of it. It wasn’t until coming to art school and being exposed to a wider variety of artists did I realize fiber to be as legitimate as painting or sculpture. Yet the question remained; why garments? After wrestling with this over the last few years, I’ve decided that I simply love to sew. The garments I make are meant to suggest narratives and emotions. Fabric creates a sense of intimacy: it is tactile and familiar.
            My current work is about uneasiness. To express this I have created a series of costumes that illustrate an indirectly autobiographical fairy tale. Various animals represent different parts of my life. The character of the hunter represents an indefinable ever present threat. Currently, I am using scale and gesture to cultivate the ethereal feeling of a dream. This reflects the way things are sometimes warped in retrospect. I also explore feelings of powerlessness and the desire for comfort, physically and emotionally. Fabric and garments have a tenderness which I feel emphasize my ideas.
            It is important to me that my current series functions as both wearable fashion and sculpture. I feel that fashion items should be appreciated as static objects as well as on the body. The detailed surface embellishment I am attempting to impart on each piece will make them more interesting when stationary. I am also creating forms on which to display the garments, which are specific to each one. This will allow me to add depth to the narrative as well as demonstrate both the aesthetic and functional nature of each piece.

Final Project: Natty Boh

(No longer in order.)









statement and link

My work explores themes of survival, need, and comfort—emotional and physical. In my life, I am a nomad. At times, the predators are bears, bobcats, poor weather and rough trails. At other times, the predators are human and sinister, their behaviors less predictible. In either case the problem remains, how do I as an individual engage with my environment and protect myself at the same time? What happens when a protective garment become an inhibition? In a world full of mass-produced objects, how can I enable others to assert their individual identity?
I create garments that are high-tech and high-touch. They are both engineered and crafted. The materials encompass those worn by time and use (old clothing and blankets woven into a rag rug) as well as high-tech textiles which can be used in risky situations (climbing harnesses and shoes, ropes, packable rain gear and tents).
It's also important to me that risky situations are not limited to the ones we choose to adventure on, but instead the daily venture which occurs the moment a person decides to interact with the outside world. Some people spend thousands on expensive high-test gear, plane tickets, guides. Other people use the waste and materials readily available to craft a home out of nothing in the urban environment.
My art is not about manufacturing a product, though there is a process that results in an object or garment. Making these one-of-a-kind garments that exist equally as items of utility and fashion for others is of little interest to me. Instead, I think about the collective knowledge, about blogs, hives, and Wikinomics. While I may make garments for myself, perhaps recipe cards or patterns are closer to my intention with the viewer. I want the viewer not to covet what I have made for myself, but to understand that they, too, have power over the objects in their life and the ability to create solutions.
Longing, too, is at the core of what I make. What are the unmet emotional, mental, and physial needs and wants of the intended user? As someone who experiences two dual roles which are very much opposite eachother, I long for a little city in my wilderness. I long, too, for some nature in the urban jungle of Baltimore. My art seeks to reconcile these two halves into one logical outcome.

and my images are blogged @ http://elleasinswell.blogspot.com

Project 3

FINAL- TRASHION AND CULTURE







I have always really liked hooded sweatshirts and cowboy shirts. Since middle school I have hunted vintage western shirts in thrift stores and recently made a few of my own. I had the idea to use the same pattern multiple times with vastly different fabric, allowing for some modifications along the lines of our uniform rules. I began researching the garments and found some bizarre facts online regarding the hoodie's place in contemporary British culture.
The United Kingdom suffers from vast differences between the "lower" and "upper" classes. In the 70's, malcontent youth from both ends of the income spectrum began reading Guy de Bord, rejected consumerism and tradition, and Punk was born. Today, however, American hip-hop culture has influenced disadvantaged British youth more than Situationist philosophy. Due to the glamorization of conspicuous consumption among low-income people, a major point of contention is fashion. Designer and knockoff hoodies are as ubiquitous in the poorer suburbs of London as skinny jeans are at MICA.
For the latter half of the twentieth century, and today, many urban planners have engineered class division and control of the masses (regardless of constitutional rights) by privitizing public space. Former civic places are neglected while tax benefits and eminent domain are used to turn huge chunks of the city into malls, atriums, parking garages, skywalks, hotels, etc... places where the right to assemble or the right to freedom of speech can be denied by whichever corporation owns the property. Today, many malls and privately owned public spaces in the UK are enforcing an anti-hoodie dress code to keep low class people from loitering outside of businesses hoping to attract a wealthier demographic. The London-based musician Lady Sovereign wrote the song "Hoodie" in defense of the garment and in protest of the blatantly elitist trend. The song has gone on to be remixed by Spankrock, a Baltimore/Philadelphia based Baltimore club dj and inspired the creation of savethehoodie.com. On this site, I uploaded images of my non-traditional hoodies to the community gallery to see if they would be approved or censored by the webmaster. This is both a test of whether or not the website adheres to its own message of protecting self-expression, and a way to subvert the garment's iconography by reaching its fanbase with images that question branding and the gender identity that hip-hop culture promotes.
Similarly, I posted an ad on Houston's Craigslist for western shirts (http://houston.craigslist.org/clo/508961124.html). When one follows the link in the listing, two videos play. One is a homoerotic music video from the 70's- "Life at the Outpost," whose lyrics are "give your love to a cowboy man, he's gonna love you as hard as he can." The other is of me dancing to the song in front of a webcam while changing between the cowboy shirts I made out of non-traditional materials- bedsheets and neon taffeta.
By subverting user-generated-content-based websites with my garments, I hope to comment on the subcultures that inspired them and their preoccupation with masculinity and the clothing that expresses it.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Extra Credit- Fashion Week

This year my good friend April Camlin and I had the idea to throw a Baltimore Fashion Week. There is a huge garment-making community here that has never really formally organized because everyone makes totally different clothing that often doesn't fit most people's conception of "fashion." With our friend Pam Hayner made a list of venues, possible sponsors, and different artists/designers we thought would want to participate. Eventually I realized I hadn't made any actual garments and had to redirect my energies towards actual garment making and stopped helping with the planning. I knew I wanted to design for the sustainable fashion show, whose inception I think of as my biggest contribution. I ordered organic hemp, bamboo, and cotton blends and dip-dyed them various shades of grey or black (my collection was titled "Grey is the New Green"). To add some variety I incorporated found materials such as bedsheets, a neon laundry bag, scraps, old t shirts, and Melanie Freebairn's old long underwear. Overall, I was really pleased with my finished project. I completed the majority of the 8 looks in under six weeks. Every night for a week there was a event. There were couture and t-shirt, respectively (obviously), shows at Metro Gallery, the sustainable show at 2640 (a former church, now event space), A ready-to-wear show and a show of clothes from local boutiques at Red Maple, and a lingerie show at flux gallery. My collection was really well received so I decided to show it again at the ready-to-wear show. I received good reviews from Gutter Magazine (http://www.guttermagazine.com/oct07/fash2Pg1.php) even though they mislabled their photos, and the Johns Hopkins Newsletter (http://media.www.jhunewsletter.com/media/storage/paper932/news/2007/09/20/ArtsEntertainment/Baltimore.Struts.Its.Stuff-2982324.shtml) even though they thought I was a Whamcity member. I was most excited about a photo of my work being used in the City Paper's Best of Baltimore Edition:

(even though they did not give me credit)


Backstage at the sustainability show.



A dress made of old t shirts with a shrug made from a found blanket. A cowboy shirt made from bedsheets and scrap fabric with jeans made from hemp.


The patchwork sweater is made from Melanie's old thermals. The leggings and bodysuit are a spandex/bamboo blend. The shirt I am wearing was made from a bedsheet. My jeans and the jeans in the back were made from hemp. His shirt was bamboo and the cardigan was hemp. My friend on the right was a last-minute replacement, so the dress doesn't really fit like it was supposed to. Her dress is hemp, as is the girl in the jumpsuit's hood/shawl.

My really proffessional documentation of the complete collection.

Video of the show: