Crouching in her laundry room, Flynn Bryan ’18 spent hours stitching a rainbow and mountains onto a skirt for her recent winter Art Exchange project. The moment when she completed the final stitches of her rainbow embroidery was a reaffirmation of her desire to create art, explained Bryan.
“It was an exercise in patience and self-love; allowing myself to take an inordinate amount of time doing something I love and find fulfilling, when I knew that I could be studying or college searching out of obligation. I’m at risk of sounding cheesy, but I do remember thinking about the metaphorical meaning of the rainbow when I saw it on the skirt, and how this whole experience was a sort of rainbow after the long, long storm of Upper Winter,” said Bryan.
According to Bryan, her passion for traditional painting and drawing has informed her interest in design.
“I’ve recently been getting a lot into folk art,” says Bryan, “like embroidering and quilting…some sort of simpler clothing design. [I] really enjoy that because of how solidly it manifests itself. After I put a ton of work into something, I get something back that is tangible and utilitarian but also beautiful and carries a lot of meaning specifically to me,” said Bryan.
One of Bryan’s key inspirations for embroidering and working more with clothing was a book given to her by her grandmother written in the 70s entitled “Native Funk and Flash.”
“[The book] was a documentation of this counterculture that was occurring in the early 70’s where people were trying to create very elaborate styles of clothing and embroidery in order to create a spiritual tie to their clothing, and it was a response to the increasing consumerism-fast fashion-that was approaching,” Bryan said. “I looked at that was incredibly inspired especially given that we live in a society that is very dominated by fast fashion, where trends come in and you don’t have to identify with them but you’re expected to buy into them,” she continued.
One of Bryan’s key motivations in creating art is based mainly on her style of clothing, particularly her homemade accessories, and her opposition to more “trendy” items that last for only short periods of time. This also reflects on her general art style, as she creates art in a specific style that she is drawn to and does not worry about art styles that is more trendy at any given moment.
“[There are clothes from certain brands that] might be very fashionable at the moment, and you can wash it 5 times, and it will fall apart, and that’s its design. It’s self-destructing. It’s supposed to fall apart so you’ll go back and buy another one,” said Bryan. “I think if you’re always trying to live like that and you’re always trying to update yourself according to whatever is in style at that moment, then you never have a secure identity in your fashion. You’re always trying to chase whatever is up next and disposing of whatever is outdated,” she continued.
Bryan thinks keeping her style up to interpretation adds to her authenticity as an artist.
“I think [my choice of clothing] does connect [with my art style] in that I try not to chase fleeting styles… I just sort of grab whatever comes to mind; whatever strikes me as beautiful or strange or ethereal and try to capture that.”