Student artists create fashionable accessories for inauguration of university president
When Dr. Gretchen M. Bataille is ceremonially installed as the 14th president of the University of North Texas, and the university's first female president, this week, she will be wearing a presidential regalia stole specially created by a student in UNT's School of Visual Arts. In addition, broaches created in her honor by other Visual Arts students will be on display in one of the university's galleries.
Jerilyn Fargo, a fibers major, dyed silk yarns for the regalia stole and used a weaving loom to thread them together. She also hand-embroidered an eagle and a Lamp of Knowledge on the stole.
Fargo says that by creating the stole, she wanted "to impart to others the pride and honor that I feel as a student of UNT."
"I am blessed and thankful to be able to show my gratitude and give back to my university, and I feel honored to participate, in this small way, in the inauguration of the first female president of UNT," she says.
Fargo designed the stole with an "Eagles in Flight" pattern, resembling simple line drawings of flying birds. The pattern, she says, represents UNT students soaring with their education supporting them.
After dyeing the individual silk yarns in various shades of green, she used a weaving loom from the School of Visual Arts to combine dark green shades with brighter greens, linking UNT's past, when the official color was a darker shade of green, with its future.
"The silk was chosen because of its strength and beauty, and it represents the strength that we have when united," Fargo says.
With the weaving completed, Fargo hand-embroidered UNT's mascot - the eagle - on one side of the stole. On the other side, she embroidered the Lamp of Knowledge, depicted on the UNT presidential seal. She lined the stole with green silk and hand-applied a border of gold braiding.
"To me, the regalia stole will always represent not only the knowledge and skills that I acquired at UNT, but it will also remind me of the excitement and anticipation for our future, the pride in our history and achievements, and the supportive community that I have found here," Fargo says. "I hope that the regalia stole will, in some small way, encourage my fellow students to make use of their knowledge, abilities, and talents to positively impact others and soar."
Bataille will wear the stole at her formal inauguration ceremony, which will include a procession of visiting dignitaries in full academic regalia.
On the day of the ceremony, the gallery in UNT's University Union will display broaches that might theoretically be worn by Bataille in an exhibition titled Brooching Bataille. All of the pieces were designed and made by students in an advanced undergraduate metalsmithing class taught by Ana Lopez, assistant professor of metalsmithing and jewelry in the School of Visual Arts.
Lopez got the idea for the exhibit after reading a 1997 Time magazine article about then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright wearing brooches to convey her attitude toward the matter at hand. The story in Time inspired an international art exhibition, organized by gallery owner Helen Drutt English, as a tribute to Albright.
Lopez asked her students to create brooches that reflect the responsibilities and diplomatic requirements of Bataille's job, in parallel with the Helen Drutt English exhibition. Bataille visited the class to answer students' questions and allow them to research their subject.
"Some of the students focused on President Bataille's background as an academic and her study of Native American literature," Lopez says. "Others gravitated toward the personal details of the president, such as her love of water and the sound of waves crashing on the shore. Several picked up on her comment to the class that being President was a little like being nibbled by goldfish at times."
Building on that goldfish theme, senior Kristin Freeman created a brooch resembling a fish net. Made of sterling silver, brass and copper, the brooch also features an inlay of a Native American fish motif - representing Bataille's work as a scholar of Native American literature.
Senior Loryn Brown seized inspiration from UNT's mascot, the eagle. She created a growing flower made of an eagle talon, with the world as its center, to illustrate the growing worldwide recognition of UNT.
Robby Winnek, another senior, captured the idea of Bataille's job to spread the image of UNT. He created eagle wings, with a jade stone in the middle, sitting atop a heraldic trumpet.
"She is a herald and messenger of things to come," Winnek says. "I chose jade because of UNT's colors - green and white - but also because jade is a symbol of wisdom and purity. It was an honor making a brooch for her in the first place."