With the MECAmorphosis and Senior Thesis show drawing the school year to a close, we interviewed Assistant Professor and Program chair to MECA’s Textile and Fashion Design Department, Alysha Kupferer.
This relatively new program, established in 2013, attracts students from all over the country and the world with an overarching goal of imparting a deep understanding of the design and fabrication of textiles, incorporating extensive study of the field of apparel, and exploring creative expression through the medium of fashion.
Alysha Kupferer, Assistant Professor and Chair of the Textile and Fashion Design department asks, “What do we need in the world of textile and apparel and how do we understand those as engaged makers in the 21st century? What does it mean to understand this material and all of its aspects, not seeing it as something that’s disposable. The younger generation that’s coming into college now has a desire to see that. We want to make sure students graduating are completely engaged. We want to help them become engaged citizens within their medium.”
The program has been incorporating both new and old technologies, helping the students to understand not only the latest developments like digital drafting but apply older techniques when relevant to their aesthetic.
One of their latest developments has been an initiative to grow natural dye plants such as indigo. The plants are started from seed in the studio by the Introduction to Textiles course and then grown in MECA’s Green space on Casco St. throughout the summer. Says Alysha “We love this new program because it emphasizes the deep, connected nature of the work we do to both material and history. A typical spring day at MECA might see a student watering a generations-old dye plant, printing their own fabric using the same dye, and then quickly laser etching a new material in our fab lab. This juxtaposition of new and old alongside meaningful connections and social collaboration is what makes MECA a unique place to learn and teach and what allows our students to access their full potential while still staying true to the ideals of engagement and citizenship that have long been the tradition within textiles practice globally.”
MECA students who are apparel focused can choose to have a collection as their thesis, or they can choose to do a thing that involves a live audience and live models. More of a performance art type piece, than a traditional show. The show this year will look a little different than years past, because there will be participation from the sculpture department, metalsmithing and jewelry design department. Their work will be displayed on live models and on pedestals before the show starts, a live presentation of the work on the body and the body in action, in essence breaking away from the mold of the ridged perception of what makes a runway show. Instead, the fashion show can become the vessel that shows the best representation of their work, activated through movement or performance.