I have experienced the effects of dementia in my family; having faced the progression of cognitive decline and its impact on the preservation of the memories that form our lives.
The vulnerability of losing memories and its gradual progression in the mind are how I explore the concept of Memorials in this design. I chose to use the lids from disposable plastic cups as the material for this garment, with their capability of being manipulated by heat. For me, their consistent shape represents the idea of the compartmentalization of each of our memories.
Heat is an uncontrollable outside force that manipulates the plastic, similar to how we are unable to control the forces of nature as our memories become unprotected and fade in dementia. These shapes on the garment also represent the individual memories that make up our individual life stories and experiences through how they are layered and built onto one another. As the shapes progress downwards, their arrangement becomes obscure and disorderly, representing the initial confusion at the beginning stages of dementia that affect how we view our past and present sense of self. Aluminum foil and wire connect the shapes at the top of the garment, which conceptualizes the strong connection between neuron pathways that affect our memories. At the hem of the garment, these wire connections transition into thin pieces of silver wire that symbolize the weaker connections between neurons. The manipulation and distortion of these shapes gradually intensify, until they are left as just fragments at the hem, hanging precariously as if about to fall off and become forgotten. Exploring the lack of protection around our own memories denotes the fear associated with the loss of who we are and who we will become without the memories that prove essential to shaping our lives.
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.
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.