Ross School - Senior Project 2013


Student: Geige Silver

Mentor: Alexis Martino

Domains: Photography, Fine Arts

Faculty Grader: James Earle


Documentation of Product


Title: Wearing the World’s Burdens



I designed and created a collection of 12 garments from unusual objects such as food, shotgun shells, and papers that were inspired by three global issues: challenges facing developing countries, 21st century war, and famine. I further expressed my more conceptual ideas on these issues through photo-shoots. By using items that relate to the issues, i.e. condoms in the case of HIV/AIDs awareness, it would help relate the clothing back to their meaning. Ultimately my goal was to use fashion as not only an art form but as a means of promoting social change.



Artist’s Statement:

No life is without suffering, whether it be through indulgence, starvation, too much, or not enough. To cope, we seek escape through aesthetic forms. These dresses represent humanities attempt to make beautiful the burdens we wear individually and as a culture while the photographs add another dimension of thought. By addressing world issues conceptually, this installation strives to inspire the reconsideration of the issues and the role of fashion to inspire social change.



Some Images:

Description: Macintosh HD:Users:gsilver13:Desktop:Wrapped_Up.jpg Description: Macintosh HD:Users:gsilver13:Desktop:Childs_World.jpg Description: Macintosh HD:Users:gsilver13:Desktop:Malaria.jpg

Description: Macintosh HD:Users:gsilver13:Desktop:rice.jpg Description: Macintosh HD:Users:gsilver13:Desktop:condom.jpg


Exhibition & Presentation Summary



Overall, I love the way everything turned out. Gallery opening night was really rewarding, knowing that people appreciated the hard work I put in for seven months. Getting to talk about both the process and product to people viewing my work, and hearing their feedback was inspiring to continue working in these mediums.



Power Point

Though I was relieved that I had my final product finished, I soon became nervous about my presentation. It took me a while to find photographs that showed my process well, and organize my powerpoint slides in a coherent and easy way to follow. I t was difficult to condense all of this work into a fifteen minute presentation; there was so much I wanted to share. I presented first on Wednesday 30 January 2013, and was beyond happy when it was over. It was difficult to get started, but then talking about my project became easier. I feel that my work and all the stress paid off in the end.


Excerpts from presentation:

Last year while on the Fashion, Art, and Architecture M-Term to China, I was inspired by this artist Ai Wei Wei who takes clay pots from past dynasties, and turns them into contemporary art by dipping them into industrial paint. After learning about the evolution of Chinese trade, I decided to juxtapose the past confinement of China with the massive industry trade they are known for today by making a traditional Qi Pao, out of soda bottle labels since now, what’s more “internationally commercial” than Coca-Cola labels in Chinese? When it came time to write my proposal, a lot of ideas bounced around my head, and I had trouble committing to one. So in the end, I decided to combine two of my favorite hobbies, fashion design and photography, into one project. I decided to base them around world/cultural issues in order to bring more awareness through the form of art and give this project more depth. I also wanted to photograph them as a way to spark social change through media.


My goal for this project was a collection of 10-12 handmade dresses from unusual materials that represent various global issues. To enhance the meaning of the dresses, I wanted to photograph six of them in context with the given theme. There were three issues that inspired this project: 21st century war and conflict, famine, and developing countries


This is a page from my process book. It shows two articles that were relevant to the points I wanted to make under 21st century war and conflict. One quote from Hilary Clinton that stood out to me was that “violence like this is no way to honor religion or faith…and as long as there are those who would take innocent lives in the name of God, the world will never know a true and lasting peace.” The second article gave me two inspirations. First, it talked about young boys journey to a refugee camp in South Sudan without his parents and how now they have to grow up without knowing the true meaning of childhood. Also when talking about the hardships of living in areas like the South Sudan, it mentions that none of the camps have mosquito nets, even though “malaria is rampant and often deadly.” This led me to add malaria to the issues of developing countries.


This is the beginning of the American Flag shot gun hull dress. I didnt know what I was looking for online, so I called the customer service number on a hunting site and tried to explain what I wanted to a guy with the deepest southern accent I’ve ever heard. I’m pretty sure this was his first time hearing this type of intended use, and was thoroughly confused. These empty hulls only came in red and gray, so I had to spray paint some blue and some white and took longer than you’d think.


I also created a pattern for the style of dress I wanted. I used a heavy muslin as the base so that the weight of the hulls would not rip the fabric. Once they were painted and the dress was sewn, I began to glue each shell down. This took a really long time, as over 500 shells were used to complete the dress. Once I had the six shoots I was going to use photographs from, it was time to think about how I wanted to utilize my space so that I could further connect and highlight the meaning behind the dresses. I also had to think about how to create a simple, clean, but strong and coherent installation with both my pictures and dresses.


In a perfect world, I would’ve had all 12 dresses finished by the time school started, so that I could spend the time between September and January photographing. This of course didnt happen, I didnt even meet my goal of nine before school started. So I began shooting some of the six dresses I had completed by October. I wanted to the photographs to add another dimension of thought and emphasize the meaning behind that dress, while at the same time, showing it off as a fashion garment.


Like creating a dress, there were multiple steps in some photographs. For the food coupon apron, I originally wanted to shoot in a grocery store, with my model in the cereal aisle digging into an open box in her lap. However, I was not allowed to make a mess in King Kullen. Instead, my dad bought 60 boxes of cereal for me to make a wall with as a backdrop.


Once I had the six shoots I was going to use photographs from, it was time to think about how I wanted to utilize my space so that I could further connect and highlight the meaning behind the dresses. I also had to think about how to create a simple, clean, but strong and coherent installation with both my pictures and dresses.


There were many steps to the dresses and photographs, and installation was no different. I have to say, I procrastinated until the last minute on this because I had a ton of trouble deciding on what to do, so I didnt do anything. All the pre-existing paintings and art had to be removed, along with the carpet and tables, and the lights had to be adjusted to shine on the works. Matting, framing, and taping the frames took forever, especially when you’re as picky about every speck of dust as Lea and I are. I spent all day Wednesday and Thursday working on this installation, right up until the opening at 5.



Works Consulted

Inspirational Artists: David Lachapelle, Steven Klein, Alexander McQueen, and Annie Leibovitz