By: Alexis Dunn ’19
For the first time ever, the MakerLab is hosting an artist in residence for the summer. Sophie Zeman- Hale is a fiber artist who attends School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She is here for the summer to create pieces for the MakerLab, collaborate on projects, host workshops, and bring in something new. I sat down with her and asked a few questions about project plans and about what she does.
Q. What exactly are fiber arts?
A. “Fiber Arts are anything relating to textiles so knitting, sewing, screen printing , spinning, weaving, and things like that. I mainly focus on sewing, weaving, dyeing fabrics, and a little screen printing.”
Q. How did you find out about the Emergent Media Center and the MakerLab?
A. “Well, my mom works in administration at Champlain College and she told me about this place along with a few other people I know. I thought this space was really cool and I was looking for an internship so I interviewed with Ann and Adam and they basically offered me this artist in residence position as part of my internship and I took it. I think they were looking to try something new so I felt like we were good match.”
Q. What are you working on right now?
A. “ Right now I’m working on some example work to display in the MakerLab around the new sewing machine station. All of the other machines have example pieces representing what they can do so that’s what I’m doing right now. You can draw on fabric with string like embroidery with this machine so I’m going to make some pieces using that and I also like making soft sculptures that I could display as examples.
I’m also working on a project with (EMC Director of Operations & Communications and MFA student) Sarah Jerger for her collaborative project class. We’re going to somehow combine technology and textiles and make a display for the Heritage Winooski Mill Museum. We could use sensors, soft circuits or projections on fabric. It might focus on the history of the mill and tell that story.”
Q. What would you say your “brand” is? If you were to be known for something, what would it be?
A. “Wow, let me think about that… I’m really interested in the relationship between textiles and the body. Fiber art is so tactile and physical. It can be a physically laborious process to make this type of art like with weaving. I think it’s interesting to find the similarities between these processes which can be healing and so physical, and relate it to bodily functions and chronic illnesses that affect the body.
I’ve also always been very interested in the history behind fiber arts. In the past, it has been viewed as ‘women’s work’ and that has always caused it to be under appreciated. Its history crosses paths with the history of women’s labor.”
Q. So I heard that you might be planning some workshops?
A. “Yeah! I’ve actually been brainstorming what sorts of things fun things I could teach here. I was thinking maybe a basic sewing workshop to start and then maybe move into soft sculpting, sewing stuffed animals, a simple garment, or maybe some embroidery.
I’m learning about some ways to integrate technology into my art too so maybe I could teach people how to make a soft socket in a workshop too.”
Sophie will be here for the duration of the summer and will be in the MakerLab four days a week. Head down to the Emergent Media Center to say hi and maybe learn something new!