Distraction by Isabel Atkinson
Isabel Atkinson is a second-year apparel design student at the University of Minnesota. She is inspired by avant-garde design, digital nighttime aesthetics featuring colored lights and dark cityscapes (think cyberpunk but less punk), and intriguing silhouettes. This is reflected in her apparel, through the repetition of large shapes across the body, and in her art through dark luminescent colors and drawings. In the future, shes hope to become a freelance illustrator, while designing avant-garde runway and art apparel.
I chose to go with the idea behind garments and shrouding in the forms of protection that are shown in Harriet Bart’s exhibition, Abracadabra and Other Forms of Protection. My interpretation is based on the ideas of self-preservation and the desire to create a facade for those around you, in a way protecting them as well. It ties into garments and shrouding by using ideas or items to cover up or distract from the traits of oneself that they don’t want to show.
The look I have created includes a pair of shorts made from chains laced together in a grid-like form. This is under several sheets of plexiglass with images of comforts and distractions drawn on and painted behind the sheets. I was inspired by the rigid shape of the plexiglass, objects, and actions that help distract and deflect what is on the inside, and the noise of the chains when the garment moves. The weight that both the metal and plexiglass contribute to the look adds to the overall concept of my garment by insinuating that one’s thoughts are a burden to not only themselves, but to others around them. The model’s hands, face, and feet are painted burnt orange to represent the colors that I correlate with the ideas of protection, garments, and shrouding.
The dark look and feel of the chain shorts represents inner thoughts that can be damaging, and heavy like the chains. The plexiglass sheets represent “shrouding” in the ideas of protection due to its masking of the shorts below, and the images that are represented on it. The way that the plexiglass is painted shows the outlining of everything, making the painting underneath seem clear, even when it is not. This results in an idea of shrouding but making it seem transparent. The model’s face specifically is covered as to not take away from the garment itself, representing the thoughts and actions that one has to take to essentially “blend in” so that they can protect both themselves and the people they surround themselves with.
About the Design Showcase: During the spring 2020 semester, 10 emerging student designers were tasked with creating a one-of-a-kind garment using non-traditional materials and technology inspired by the exhibition Harriet Bart: Abracadabra and Other Forms of Protection.
After eight weeks of material testing, sketching in the galleries, writing, and work-shopping their designs with local artisans Marina Shimelfarb, Charlie Wagner, and the artist herself, Harriet Bart, the final designs are nothing short of radical, innovative, and deeply personal.
The Seven Forms Student Design Showcase is presented in partnership with the UMN College of Design, Department of Theatre Arts and Dance and Juut Salon Spa.