editorial for "the waterer" in collaboration with SAIC's advanced fashion photography class:
With my collection, “The Gardenscape,” I was inspired by a recurring dream in which I would travel to a garden. At first, I thought nothing of this dream. As time carried on, I quickly became curious as it started to feel real and vivid. I began researching the meaning of having garden dreams. To my surprise, I found that garden dreams are a response to mental distress. Reading these articles quickly became a reality check for me. The details of my specific garden landscape revealed that I was neglecting relationships in my life. This was indeed true. As a fast-paced society, we often forget how important it is to “tend to the weeds” when we are going about our busy lives.
I found this dream to be meditative. I would long for it each time my head hit my pillow. Eventually, however, this unconscious therapy no longer occurred. My travels to the garden had reached their expiration without my consent. Where had the garden gone? And, why did I find this place so comforting? I began to long for this moment of nightly self-reflection. As a result, I decided to bring “The Gardenscape” to waking life as a physical reminder to take care of the seeds planted carefully, and deeply, in my mind.
I came to peace with myself through this mindful garden meditation. I wanted to bring this feeling of renewal to life once more. But this time, consciously. “The Gardenscape” felt right to deliver through fashion as I needed this experience to be one that others could truly interact with. My process went from dreaming to questioning, to evaluating and reimagining, and finally to growing this world into a new reality.
When choosing my color palette, I wanted to capture the haziness of waking up from a vivid dream, the softness of clouds, and the pastel hues of a misty spring morning. I included a bright saturated green to further signify that we are far from reality- a depiction of a perfect grassy landscape without any trace of soilage.
After developing the conceptual format of my collection, I wasn’t sure what my vision looked like in fabric. While grabbing a cold can of seltzer water from the garage refrigerator on a visit to my parents’ house, I found a torn piece of utility tarp in my dad’s lawn supplies. When the weave was ripped, it revealed a striped print of blue and white. This was due to the tarp being colored after it was woven. I quickly tore off some samples and found that when shredded, the material began to produce an abstracted gingham. A pattern often associated with gardening. I created this “tarp fringe” by carefully deconstructing the weaving. I tended to the tarp as one would tend to soil in a garden, finding therapy again in repetitive motion.
Additional fabrics I selected for The Gardenscape include dyed soil bags, cotton, linen, greenhouse screen, and silk. All of these materials can be found or grown in or around a garden. I embraced the physicality of making in this collection by shredding thousands of pieces of tarp and burlap, wrestling large garments under the presser foot of my sewing machine, drawing prints by hand, cutting and sewing individual appliqués, and carefully hand-sewing closures into my garments. This experience truly felt as if I were growing and tending to my own garden. Through these actions, I was able to transform utilitarian materials and birth them into a new life. I translate these materials to garments through protective yet vulnerable silhouettes. Exposing the chest or using transparent fabrics where the body is revealed beneath its large protective shell. The garments transform the wearer into a Gardener living inside The Gardenscape.
In a time of COVID-19 and stay-at-home orders, I find meditation crucial to my well-being. Creating the second half of my collection in isolation brought a whole new meaning to The Gardenscape. While alone in my apartment, shredding material slowly and carefully, I was able to rekindle relationships that I thought needed “watering” through phone calls with friends and family. While navigating and adjusting to life in a global pandemic, growing these garments truly became an outlet for reflection and rebuilding in my personal life- even more than previously expected. I hope to bring this self awareness into my career as a fashion designer. Reminding those around me that we are allowed to slow down and shift our focus to the present moment.
This collection is not merely about creating an escape. It represents a place of meditation, self-reflection, and self-care. The experience is rooted in hardship but healed by careful tending and finding color and positivity. It tells the story of traveling to a world of meditation and reflection, embracing and learning, and awakening to a feeling of renewal. I present my viewer with the opportunity to enter their own Gardenscape and grant themselves permission to pause and reflect in this new and comforting space.