As the concluding piece of her Lilley Fellowship, senior Ashley Kim took the findings from her months-long research on sustainable fashion and brought it to life for students and faculty alike in her pop-up Crawford Campus Center Gallery show, Threads.
"It’s bittersweet knowing this is the last component of my [Lilley] Fellowship, but it feels full-circle knowing that the gallery is a tangible space where sustainable fashion is something you can see and feel (not just read or hear about!), right on EA’s campus," Ashley said.
In addition to select sustainable fashion pieces, Ashley's show featured a variety of photographs and mementos from her Fellowship research of environmental and humanitarian crises behind fast fashion.
"The mirrors throughout the gallery are symbolic of my hope for visitors to reflect on how, where, and by whom their clothing is made," she explained. "The mirrored eyes in particular add great dimension to the space by reflecting natural light from the opposite-facing window during the day. I placed them between images from eye-opening experiences I had during my Fellowship, and I love how they play on the eye motif on two of the sustainable Min & Mon bags featured in the exhibit. They’re my favorite part of the gallery!"
To end her two-week long pop-up exhibit, an artist's reception was held on her behalf on March 15. During the show, Ashley gave thanks for all those who helped her make her gallery experience a reality, as well as briefly recounted her sustainable fashion journey and takeaways.
"Seeing the show come together has been extremely rewarding, and I’m so grateful for the rare opportunity EA has given me to create a gallery exhibit as a high school student," she said. "I’ve been touched by the support of my teachers and peers and the genuine curiosity they’ve had for my research, and I feel lucky to have the continued support of the Lilley Committee and Mr. Sigel and Ms. Hutchison in carrying out this project. I’ve had so much fun curating a sustainable collection of clothing and accessories from brands I respect and individuals I deeply admire."
Katie Colyer, Upper School science teacher and Ashley's Lilley Fellowship advisor, said that she was so impressed with Ashley's exhibit and her work throughout the entire Lilley Fellowship. "I love that she was able to have this physical component to her project as her topic of researching sustainable practices in the fashion industry is such a visual topic," Dr. Colyer said. "By adding the exhibit, I think she was able to engage the community in a really impactful way. She had a vision for the exhibit, and it was beautifully executed—both in her artistic aesthetics and delivery of scientific information."
Visual Arts Chair David Sigel, Hon. agreed that the exhibit was an important final piece of Ashley's Fellowship. "The passion for Ashley's research was clearly heard during her Lilley Fellowship presentation, but the development of a gallery exhibition further clarified the importance of her research and call to action," he said. "Through this curation, Ashley shared her vision and desire to be more than a curator of a single show, but an educated participant in making our world a better place. Through art, fashion, the gallery, and Ashley's creative vision, she welcomed our community to immerse themselves in her research and asked visitors to approach and be welcomed into the space to see the research and engage on a more personal level."
While pursuing the Lilley Fellowship reinforced Ashley's academic interest in the interdisciplinary field of fashion and deepened her understanding of its role as a cultural force for both social and environmental sustainability, she admitted that the idea of using the Crawford Campus Center Gallery was both thrilling and daunting. "Prior to this experience, I’d communicated my research through writing and speaking for presentations and interviews, but I’d never approached storytelling through visual art—which was ironic because I first fell in love with fashion as an artistic medium," she explained. "Ultimately, it was incredibly empowering to reimagine, articulate, and share my research starting with a blank canvas."
"Ashley demonstrated that art is not just about being an artist, but about visual communication," Mr. Sigel said. "Dr. Colyer and I could not be more honored to have watched Ashley's journey as she took on this adventure that started with scientific research and ended with an impressive educational gallery exhibition."
Ashley's show will be in the Crawford Campus Gallery through Monday, March 20.