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RESEARCH

My research focuses broadly on textile technology. My work addresses processes, the maker perspective, as well as the impact that technology, global intervention + social change have on traditional modes of textile + apparel creation. Other areas of focus include textile science + novel material structure development, user-centered design + manufacturing futures to improve the textile + apparel industry. 

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Textile
FUTURES

Now more than ever, textile technologies are allowing us to understand our minds and bodies in ways that we never thought possible. Because of breakthroughs in revolutionary science at the intersection of design and engineering, we are now able to improve livelihoods through biometric data collection as part of the wearable systems that I design. These projects all connect to the critical and emergent field of wearable technology and smart textiles, and the role it can play in improving human health, safety.  and user centered design body anthropometryMy research focuses on developing textile and apparel product solutions using wearable technology, digital fabrication, functional devices, smart fibers, and performance textiles.  Developing wearable technology prototypes and smart textile materials for occupational health and safety applications is a critical growth area in the fashion design field.  My knowledge of textile design, construction, fit, and extensive knowledge of textile-based materials and new material constructions, nanofibers and nano-materials, soft sensors, digital design methods, rapid prototyping.

 

My current research activities in this area involve:

  • Development of biometric sensor-enabled seamless knit garments + fabrics

  • Carbon Nanotube textile composites for occupational health and safety applications

  • Variations of natural silk materials for high performance applications

  • Exoskeletal textiles

  • Textile filtration membrane systems

 

Maya Youth
Artisanship
initiative

Henequen is a plant native to the lands of the Mayan people in Yucatan, Mexico. They found its leaves filled with white fibers from which they created textiles and utilitarian objects. The rise and fall of henequen as a commodity is embedded in indigenous Maya craft heritage and local economy.  After commercial fiber production diminished the practice of manual processing, the decline of the henequen fiber industry stifled cottage production in rural Maya communities. Fiber cultivation and the craft of back-strap weaving with endemic plant fibers has nearly become a lost art in this region.  

 

But today a new landscape of value-added textiles has emerged as regional eco-tourism and the growth of global luxury handcraft markets has disrupted the waning henequen production system. Artisans are creating innovative, highly refined, handmade textile goods from henequen fibers that, through the help of local designer collaborations and global conservation efforts, are now being revived and brought to market. However, the transmission of this rare knowledge from aging elders to a reluctant new generation proves difficult as Mayan youth are dismayed by the vocation of fiber cultivation because indigenous marginalization and provinciality pales in comparison to Mexico’s connected urban societies.  The young generation find that this craft is repetitive, labor intensive and is seen in their view as low class, low wage work, and the tradition of weaving plant fibers is rapidly becoming a dying art.  

The MYAI project purpose is to reverse this sentiment among Mayan youth, and encourage and support young women in the pueblos to learn the practice of traditional crafts through the coordination of mentor/mentee strategies of teaching, exposure of artisans to global markets, training on small business management and entrepreneurship. This project will take place over the course of 18 months, wherein a research study of ethnographic observations and series of field studies in the form of apprenticeship workshops and trainings will contribute to the overall project goals.  While a more refined design approach and collaboration with a small group of artisans has helped to  redefine how henequen textiles are valued, women who are the keepers of these skills are elderly or aging. Therefore, it is critical that coordinated strategies for the transmission of the practice of weaving with henequen fiber to a younger generation is critical for the preservation of the technique in perpetuity. We also aim to change the way artisans see their work, young and elderly, from that of weaving for utility to opportunities of designing textiles, thereby earning much more for their skill and craft, helping to regenerate rural economies.  

 

By bridging a generational gap within communities, aiding the transmission of skills, and demystifying and de-stigmatizing this craft for the youth, we will be assisting in the establishment of a new generation of artisans who will take the art of weaving plant fibers to a new level, a new industry and new markets will emerge that elevate the value of work that is produced.  New designs may include new patterns, natural dyes, and incorporating new plant fibers, such as sansevieria, banana, coco or other local plant fibers to create avenues for design innovation and novel concepts that the mentees can leverage in their designs.  

 

This project will seek to recruit young Mayan women between the ages of 15-25 years of age to participate in craft making collaborations with existing artisans (mentors) who will teach them the traditional methods of their heritage handicrafts, including fiber cultivation and processing, thread spinning, and weaving using plant fibers on a back-strap loom. Students will participate in design and business management workshops led by design educators, students and special subject instructors will to encourage them to explore new design methods and expose them to the potential for employment in the revitalized luxury artisan handicraft market.  

 

TeJIENDO

QUIENES

SOMOS
(Weaving who we are)

The Tejiendo Quienes Somos exhibition, a celebration of the artwork, a showcase of artisan voices, and a recognition this special technique, and the significant role that each artisan participant has played in keeping this tradition alive.  Through this project, the team's aim was to better understand social phenomenon through investigating people, materials, culture, and crafts.  The project began in 2018, with the hope of better understanding why young Maya people were not learning the craft of backstrap loom weaving as commonly today as they had in the past.  

 

What we learned was that the dynamics of society, place, materials, processes, and culture, are constantly evolving over time, never static. The project allowed us to hear the first-hand perspectives, to learn and share the artisan's feelings on this issue.  We wanted to know if there were still young people interested in learning weaving, and if so, to make that learning possible by removing the barriers that stood in the way.

 

I was delighted that these talented artisans were willing to take this journey of discovery with us. Thank you, each one of you, for your participation. Now their new charge is to try to keep the tradition alive by practicing, building their skills, and teaching others younger than them keep this tradition alive.  The exhibition event was a true celebration of those who carry on this tradition.

 

Some of the artisans have been weaving for over 50 years. It is important that they are recognized purveyors of this heritage craft.  We thank them for acting as conservators of Maya culture, and continuing to weave, as not to forget. This exhibition was to celebrate their work and achievements.  

Your Maya ancestors have been weaving for 3000 years. It is incredible to think about how long this tradition has been passed down from generation to generation. We do not want this to ever end.  

I would like to present to you a gift that my students and I have made for you.  A gift of our appreciation. A useful tool that I hope will help you remember this project every time that you use it. Thank you for dedicating your time and effort, being open to learning, and sharing your skills and perspectives with us. 

For me, this day is especially important because it not only represents the completion of this project, but represents hope for the future. To see the happiness on each of your faces knowing that what you do is appreciated, not only to those of us in this room, but to people around the globe, fills my heart with joy. Hundreds, even thousands of people will see your work, and share in this feeling of celebration, honor, and distinction. Your contributions, your voices, will now be remembered and documented in history.

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NAJIL TU'uCHA COOPERATIVE 

Now more than ever, textile technologies are allowing us to understand our minds and bodies in ways that we never thought possible.

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