We’re a week away from WAM Collective’s fourth annual design event: Eye Candy. This year, we will be hosting a showcase of outfits created by apparel design students from the College of Design. The garments this year are inspired by Feast: Radical Hospitality in Contemporary Art, the featured exhibition at the Museum. If you haven’t seen the exhibition yet, go see it! The collection contains pieces that explore different meanings and values that are found in the act of sharing a…
Over the course of the 2020 spring semester, ten students in University of Minnesota College of Design Apparel Design Program immersed themselves in the life and work of Minneapolis-based conceptual artist Harriet Bart, whose sprawling body of work is presented at WAM in the exhibition Harriet Bart: Abracadabra and Other Forms of Protection.
There are many influences to trace in Bart’s work—fiber art, feminism, conceptualism, minimalism, and Jewish mysticism, among them. But at its most essential, Bart’s practice extends from her deep engagement with the physical and conceptual dimensions of two materials: the book and cloth. The significance of both are rooted in the material and intellectual background of her childhood. While growing up in a first-generation Jewish immigrant family in San Francisco, in the wake of World War II, her mother taught her to sew, embroider, and knit, while her father instilled in her a reverence for words, reading, and books. Bart would go on to adapt both quiet practices to poetic and experimental ends in her work.
This study is exemplified in her 1978 installation, Processional.
These five empty garments hold the shape of a woman’s torso, while conjuring associations with a ceremonious ritual of transformation across five symbolic thresholds of a woman’s life.
The work was first exhibited at Bart’s 1978 debut solo exhibition at the WARM Gallery in Minneapolis and represents the culmination of her sculptural experimentation in fiber. In 1979, she shared her intentions for this body of work, “I want my weavings to have a quality of mystery and strength about them. . . to have some power of their own as they confront you.”
Using Bart’s body of work as source inspiration, the student designers were charged with utilizing non-traditional materials and technology (such as 3D printing and laser cutting) to create a ready-for-the-runway garment that explored both the conceptual and material dimensions 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 concept of protection often refers to keeping something or someone safe—and in light of our current crisis, how we protect, and what we protect, feels even more urgent. We hope you will find inspiration in these young designers final projects and short essays.
Meet the Designers
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, she hopes to become a freelance illustrator, while designing avant-garde runway and art apparel.
Olivia Bergerson is a sophomore studying apparel design at the University of Minnesota. She is largely inspired by nature, crisp clean aesthetics, pastel tones, psychological concepts, and the behaviors of those close to her. As a designer she is futuristic, valuing creativity and growth. In her work, her inspiration is evident through the double meaning her pieces tend to hold. In the future, she hopes to move out of Minnesota and pursue design in a more enriching urban environment.
Julianne Bur is a sophomore studying apparel design at the University of Minnesota. She is intrigued by representing technical design through the concept of minimalism in fashion. Julianne explores the minimalist approach by tailoring garments to the body and stripping down the look to the essential elements of design. She focuses on the constructional aspects of each of her garments. By applying various techniques of garment assembly, Julianne’s designs focus on the beauty of tailoring to the human form.
Emma Hughes is a sophomore studying apparel design at the University of Minnesota. She began designing at a very young age working with her grandma, who always supported her aspirations to become a designer. Her inspiration comes from everyday life and different patterns found in nature or ideas that come from her coursework. Her design style ranges from casual clothing to evening gowns. In the future, Emma hopes to create environmentally-friendly designs for the fashion-forward men and women of the world.
Sage James is a second-year apparel design student at the University of Minnesota. Most of her work is inspired by the unconventional mysteries in daily life and art. She loves exploring art museums and incorporating inspiration from the art directly into her design work. Specifically, looking at the movement, colors, and feeling that the art evokes. She is also inspired by her drive to explore new things and create brilliant experiences. Recently she learned how to skateboard which inspired new shapes and purpose to her work.
Anisha Joshi is a budding fashion designer and a sophomore at the University of Minnesota. She started designing when she was a freshman in high school. Anisha loves to explore different silhouettes and styles and is particularly inspired by men’s clothing. She feels that there is more room for creativity and innovation in menswear. She is especially drawn to the playful nature and flexible styling of streetwear. Anisha believes fashion is a form of self-expression and that everyone should feel empowered by what they wear.
Erin Pouba is an apparel design major at the University of Minnesota. As a designer, Erin appreciates the details. Her inspiration stems from personal experience, change, and the details around her. She loves the opportunity for expression of unlimited messages and the world of creativity. Thinking deeply into each of her projects, every aspect has a meaning and reasoning behind it, from the materials used to the color and the sound the garment makes as it is worn.
Sam Richman is a sophomore in the Apparel Design Program at the University of Minnesota. As a designer, he is very inspired by the intersections between fashion and music, as both of these art forms are very important aspects of his life. This inspiration translates into his work in many different ways. From playful looks to serious ones, Sam’s designs are unified through a unique sleek perspective developed from my upbringing with my grandfather, and his blueprint-oriented aerospace work.
Zoë Weinmann is a sophomore in the Apparel Design Program at the University of Minnesota. Zoë is inspired by diversity and minimalism and likes to design for or plus-sized individuals. Zoë is also interested in creating gender-neutral clothing. They use mostly neutral colors and construct silhouettes that are creative yet versatile. They hope to carry these aesthetics into their career, as their dream is to create a versatile, capsule collection-based company for plus-sized individuals.
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 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.