China Ploblana Ofrenda by Jaelen Wylie
Jaelen Wylie is a second-year transfer student in the University of Minnesota Apparel Design Program. She gravitates toward simple silhouettes with interesting details. Overall, she is inspired by the “Big Idea” behind her work. Usually, this Big Idea focuses on the trials and tribulations of Black and Brown men and women and the expectations and stories imposed upon them by society.
The form of protection I chose in relation to Harriet Barts’ exhibition, Abracadabra and Other Forms of Protection, is Memorial. My inspiration from this form of protection derives from the ofrenda in Mexican culture.
With my garment, I want to reflect this celebration of memorial and respect through traditional Mexican China Poblana dress, color, movement, and culture. The category of protection, Memorial, directly relates to the tradition of the ofrenda; holding meaningful items previously owned by the dead family member each item holding a story.
When reflecting on Harriet Barts’s piece, Geniza—a mixed media containment piece exhibiting smaller artworks reminiscent of her personal history—I found myself thinking about what possessions I would hold in my memorial bookshelf, and what stories would they hold? With that in mind, I collected and transformed a few everyday items usually found around the house to express what my ofrenda may look like if it were transformed into a traditional China Poblana dress. I worked with paper bags as the skeleton of the garment, coffee filters and coupon magazines for the skirt, tissue papers create colorful carnations, and a mop head was used for the sweetheart neckline. Additionally, I added two personal touches: paper cranes and essential oils. The paper cranes were made from a college catalog sent to me when deciding where to go to college. The essential oils coat the tissue carnations to represent my motto of self-care when thinking of a calm mind, calm body, calm spirit ideology.
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.