Worn: an examination of the threads between our clothing and the environment
Hampshire Art Gallery
My work examines the role of clothing in everyday life as well as its larger, cross-cultural impact on the global environment. I have had an ongoing fascination with the clothes that adorn our bodies, and for most of my life my focus has been on the aesthetic properties of clothing. The way they look, feel, and how they shape the way we interact in this world. While working toward a degree in fashion design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, I began to notice more and more the negative impact that clothing was having not only on our bodies, but on our environment as well. Wrapped up in a world of over consumption and materialism, I felt the need to pursue my love for clothing through a different lens.
I seek to explore dynamics of overconsumption and disposability that influence our relationship with what we wear both internally and externally. When I reflected on my own relationship with material possessions, I realized that much of my clothing functioned as more of a burden than an asset to my well-being. This was illustrated in my own wardrobe through a collection of six denim jeans, essentially the same except for variation in size that I was keeping for “just in case”. Conditioned by the fast fashion industry to think we need every style, size, color or trend, I questioned the way these items hold us down, and we refuse to let go. I simultaneously began to examine what these clothes were doing to the external environment around me. From their production to the end of their life cycle, much of our clothing takes more than it gives. Harsh synthetic dyes seeping into our waterways, yards of fabric scraps that don’t make it into a final piece, and man-made fabrics that sit in landfills after their time are only a few of the ways in which modern day clothing contributes to the degradation of our planet.
I began to play with textiles that have been deemed as trash. I rummaged through free piles and laundry rooms, and started collecting donations of various types of discarded cloth. In this process I found the potential to display my complex feelings with the world of fashion through textiles and painting. I ask the viewer to take a closer look at what these piles hold when the answer is not our bodies.