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Fashion, Design, Biology Represented in Collaborative Exhibit

Fashion, Design, Biology Represented in Collaborative Exhibit

Posted: February 8, 2019

An exhibit currently on display in Buffalo State’s Czurles-Nelson Gallery illustrates the benefits of sharing talents across academic disciplines.

Interconnect: A Tri-Disciplinary Collaboration features dresses that fashion and textile technology (FTT) students made from fabric designed by art and design students. Specimens from the Biology Department’s Eckert Herbarium inspired the designs.

The resulting collection of 13 basic scuba-backed A-line garments compose the exhibit that runs through Thursday, February 14. A presentation about the collaboration and a reception will be held on Tuesday, February 12, at 12:15 p.m. in the Upton Hall lobby. It is free and open to the public.

“This triple collaboration was unique and extremely valuable to student learning,” said Carol Townsend, associate professor of art and design. “Students have experienced new avenues of inspiration, developed collaborative relationships with students from varying fields of study, and learned to visualize their designs in new and exciting ways.”

The genesis of the collaboration goes back a couple of years when Jim Battaglia, research associate in biology, sought new partners for the herbarium—a collection of more than 16,000 preserved plant and flora specimens.

Townsend saw the specimens as perfect subjects for her Design 101 and 103 students. They turned those drawings into a portfolio of symmetrical and asymmetrical patterns that could be made into fabric.

Townsend then contacted Lynn Boorady, FTT professor and former chair, to discuss further collaboration. Together, they wrote a Faculty-Student Association (FSA) Founder’s Fund grant to provide off-campus printing of yardage of the chosen designs.

“Brianna Plummer, who at that time was our Textile Design professor, accompanied me to see Carol and the student projects. We all were impressed by the work they had accomplished,” Boorady said. “Brianna also could see some great possibilities in turning this artwork into textile prints, which is often done in industry.”

A team of design faculty recommended the strongest of almost 60 student fabric designs, and Boorady and Plummer selected the final 13.

About four yards of fabric were printed of each—enough to make a dress and give one yard to Townsend’s students to keep, Boorady said. The resulting dresses were first showcased during last spring’s campus-produced fashion show, Runway 11. At the end of the semester, students from both departments brainstormed final outcomes for this collaboration.

Thus, Interconnect was born. It was accepted for inclusion in the 2018 International Textile and Apparel Association Conference held in Cleveland, Ohio, in November.  The students also wanted to share it with the campus.

Gerald Mead, lecturer of art and design. curated the exhibition; Battaglia and students Joseph Marino and Robert Wilson assisted with the installation.

“This long-lasting collaboration provided a terrific opportunity for students not only to create pieces they can exhibit and include in their portfolios, but also to understand the power of thinking differently and working together across disciplines,” Townsend said. “We hope that is can continue.”

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