What is it about being lost in an unfamiliar place that makes people so uncomfortable? What causes them to feel at ease in an environment that they are familiar with? For some reason, people seem to always feel the need for clarity in knowing where they are in relation to place and location, to know that they are not lost, but rather belong and fit in with their environment. There is something messy and confusing and daunting about being lost and out of place in unknown surroundings.
The inspiration behind my collection stems from my experiences of being lost in a new place, specifically in large urban environments, and utilizing maps as a way of getting around each city. Reflecting on experience from when I first moved to Chicago and had to learn my way around the city on the streets and with public transportation, I found myself consulting maps on a daily basis. This was the same case when I spent time in New York, as well as Europe, riding the underground transportation systems and going from one place to another. Somehow, knowing where I was, where I was going, and exactly how to get to my destination gave me a feeling of security and confidence.
Proficiency in getting around did not come immediately though. The beginning stages of learning my way around were frustrating. It took time and patience to become comfortable with understanding and knowing where I was. Often I felt out of place, out of touch, and lost. I could not fully enjoy my surroundings until I understood where I was in relation to everything else around me. The only thing that truly helped me were maps – maps of whichever city I was in and maps of its transportation lines. They were hugely important resources, but I found that over time, I relied on them less and less, and eventually more on my knowledge and experiences than anything else. Once I put the map down and actually looked up at the world around me, I was able to more fully appreciate where I was, to not just look at my surroundings but to see my surroundings, to not just notice the big things in front of me but to notice and appreciate small details that make each new city unique.
For this collection, I utilized maps again, but this time as prints and patterns in my work. In a progression, the garments start out as highly focused on map prints – blown up, enlarged versions of various maps, in some cases to the point where it is not immediately apparent what the print is. As the collection advances, these maps become smaller and less prominent, making way for garments with more emphasis on the small details of surface embellishments. As with my experiences in learning my way around a new city, the map prints and patterns, which are a significant part of my inspiration, gradually become less important to allow for attention to be directed towards the small details that make each progressing garment unique.