AFO project course showcases work in gallery

Hal Dockins
Contributing Writer

In this age of buying clothes, few people are able to mend their own clothes, let alone to create something              with a needle and thread. However, one course in the Art Foundation Program at VCU aims to change that.

On Feb. 15, the Puncture/Stitch class held an exhibit of the same name at gallery on the second floor of the Fine Arts Building. This exhibit gave students a chance to showcase to the public their work from the duration of the course.

“I always wanted to know how to sew,” said Aaron Bobb, an art foundations student. “I always loved playing with fiber and sewing things together. Fiber arts is a good place to go. It was sort of just a natural process.”

Bobb was one of 18 students who participated in Puncture/Stitch, a project course for the craft and materials major instructed by professor Katherine Hampel. Project courses last five weeks and offer AFO students a type of preview into their potential majors. Students take one project class per semester before applying for their majors during the spring semester.

The Puncture/Stitch class used fiber for projects such as sewing and embroidery.

“It’s about the idea of the thread connecting surfaces and spaces,” Hampel said. “It’s two-dimensional and three-dimensional at the same time.”

Hampel said that students take the class because of a need to use materials not normally seen in an AFO class.

“They want to pursue new materials. It’s quite open in terms of what you can create so they’re not limited at all,” Hampel said. “The class allows for a large amount freedom.  The class is not just an exercise. It’s about coming out with a finished product.”

The piece that Bobb created for the showcase was a dark green jacket with red embroidery and white lace, which resembled stitches. The jacket was slashed and cut to tell a story about  “abuse and healing,” Bobb said. “I just try to make it really natural.”

AFO student Lauren Terry was motivated to take the course because of her interest in the material. “It really interests me. I want to use craft materials and work with fibers,” Terry said. “It’s giving me an idea of whether I want to go into the major or not.”

The showcase at the end of the class gives students like Terry an objective to work toward.

“It’s awesome (and) it’s kind of nerve racking but it gives you an ultimate goal to work for,” Terry said. “It’s good motivation.”

Terry said she enjoyed her time in the class and would recommend it to other art students. “It’s been really fun,” Terry said. “I’ve rediscovered my love for fiber-based craft. I did it a lot when I was young so it’s nostalgic in that sense.”

Bobb was proud of the jacket he transformed but said he has even greater goals in mind.  “All of the techniques I learned is stuff I will be using (in the future),” Bobb said. “It’s a great course. It would be a valuable class for anyone looking to do the major or just to try something new.”

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