UNT alumnae, professors recognized by national group for outstanding fiber, textile and design work

Wednesday, July 3, 2013 - 14:43

DENTON, Texas (UNT) – College of Visual Arts and Design May graduate Liyun (Alice) Chang was recently named a recipient of the Surface Design Association’s 2013 Outstanding Student Award. She and four alumnae received a variety of recognitions by the association, along with two award-winning professors.

“The Surface Design Association is an international textile, fiber art and design group that offers a very competitive venue,” said Associate Professor Janie Stidham, who won third place in the association’s fashion show. “I feel that our performance at the event speaks loudly to the talented faculty and students at the College of Visual Arts and Design and at UNT.”

Chang’s award is a national honor based on artistic and technical merit, quality of design and professional presentation. Eleven students from prominent colleges and universities in the United States and Canada were recognized. Students who received this award were recommended by the chair of their departments and must have created a cohesive and professionally accomplished body of work that demonstrates innovative use of technique, materials or concepts.

Chang and the others were recognized in conjunction with the 2013 Surface Design Association Conference, held in San Antonio in June. Eight additional students, alumni and faculty members helped with workshops at the conference.

In addition to Chang, those who were recognized by the Surface Design Association include:

Julie Shipman, first place in the Linked Up Student Show

Originally from Rochester, Mass., Shipman claims Frisco as her Texas hometown. The May 2013 graduate said she laughed when she found out that she’d won first place in the student show.

“It was completely unexpected,” said Shipman, who graduated with a BFA in fibers. “My understanding is that we would find out who won by a certain date. That date came and went. A week later, I got a congratulatory text from a friend that really confused me until I checked my email and found out that I’d won. It feels good to know that others recognize the hard work I put into my art.”

“Dissection,” pictured above right, goes back to a recurring theme of Shipman’s work, which uses doors. She used an old door divided into three parts and removed sections to replace with stacked fabric from recycled projects. Her use of doors and other broken or forgotten materials is more than an aesthetic choice, however.

“Doors represent opportunities, challenges or even escape,” Shipman said. “They can be a passage to the future or a closing of the past. For me, it represented an understanding of the past and seeing growth during this place of transition. Understanding the doors in our own lives is imperative toward moving into the future.”

Shipman’s piece and other UNT student work can be viewed at the University of Texas at San Antonio’s Downtown Art Gallery in the Durango Building through July 28.

Associate Professor Anny Chang, second place in the Fabricate Fashion Show

In creating the design “Ring A Ding Ding,” shown at left, Chang wanted a dress that used cylindrical prisms – inspired by paper towel rolls – in conjunction with draping.

“The color golden yellow was chosen for its characteristics of optimism and vitality, and the color turquoise blue was chosen as contrast,” Chang said of the silk matka fabric.

Associate Professor Janie Stidham, third place in the Fabricate Fashion Show

Stidham has participated in the juried show before, but this was her first win. “Snow Day,” the piece at right, is made of white linen, hand-embroidered with black cotton embroidery floss and black glass seed beads. Stidham said her work was inspired by photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand’s image “Trees Amid the Waters.”

“In his image, he captures the abstract beauty in the reflections of the dormant winter trees against a body of water in France,” Stidham said, adding that she received additional inspiration during the making of the jacket. “I was even more influenced by the dormant trees against the white winter snow during the season while I was constructing the piece.”

Leisa Rich (MFA, 2007), SDA Award of Excellence in the Fabricate Fashion Show

The SDA Fashion Show typically includes “wearable” pieces, so when Rich’s three entries were accepted and the piece at left won, she said she was surprised, but very pleased. She classified her entries as more dramatic art to wear, costume-like and sculptural.

“I am an experimenter,” Rich said. “I use materials and techniques in ways they are not intended to be used, and with a strong and intentional emphasis on concept.”

This piece is about her mother’s struggle with dementia.

“It is virginal white for the innocence that is the disease as it progresses, rendering the person incapable of functioning independently, like a child again,” Rich said. “The birds are her thoughts fleeting. They have temporarily roosted, just as she does have moments of clarity. It is titled ‘Birds of a Feather’ because she is not the only one.”

Naomi Adams (MFA, 2012), Beyond the Boundaries Award in the Members Show

Adams, who taught a three-day workshop titled “Textile Bookmaking” at the University of the Incarnate Word during the association’s conference, won the first Beyond the Boundaries Award. The award, established this year by California Fibers, goes to a member who shows artistic innovation in fiber media.

Chesley Williams, Conference Presenter

Williams, a May graduate with an MFA in fiber arts, presented a talk about her artwork titled “Recycling: Up-Cycling.” Williams uses a variety of unexpected items, for example construction fencing, buttons and washers in the piece at right – but it’s not exactly recycling. Rather, up-cyling takes an item and instead of reusing it for a similar purpose, uses it differently – for example, as fashion.

“My main objective within the presentation was to open up dialogue about how consumer consumption can become a part of a continuous trend of creative reuse, while keeping the public conscious of ways to reuse,” Williams said.

Currently participating in the UNT Murphy Center for Entrepreneurship’s five-week boot camp, Williams plans to start her own business, Conscientious Couture, in a revamped mobile cargo trailer that specializes in sustainable wearable art accessories – and teach workshops in their homes.

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