Textile design collection takes inspiration from imperfect objects

A dress form in a museum exhibitStory by Diane Sparks

Inspired by images of tarnished, rusty objects which sometimes are covered in peeling paint, Sarah Hillman Van Patter, graduate student in the Colorado State University Department of Design and Merchandising, has created a collection of art textiles for the home and for apparel.

A textile in a museum exhibit
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Each of the textile designs began as a photograph which was manipulated into repeat patterns, using state-of-the-art computer-aided design technology. Earlier this spring, Van Patter’s collection was the focus of a Gustafson Gallery exhibit entitled Products to Promote Internal Reflection: Digital Textile Designs Inspired by the Beauty of the Imperfect.

Finding abstract beauty in unexpected places

Rather than turning away from natural processes such as decomposition and aging, these designs are derived from nature’s life cycles to reveal creative opportunities in the overlooked. Brilliant color combinations exist in unlikely places such as the underbelly of an old boat, or other discarded and forgotten corroded metal objects from industrial equipment. Van Patter skillfully selects parts and pieces from the photographic images to create abstract combinations of color and shape.

Promoting internal reflection

Life in 2020 proceeds as a high-velocity activity, with precious little time for reflection or introspection. These textile designs are intrinsically thought-provoking, and can be used in environments to help humans slow down and appreciate quiet unassuming beauty. There is an expansive variety in color and texture in the designs which are printed on different textile fibers, with varying weights and weave structures.

Viewers will find colors and shapes used in spontaneous combinations, resulting in a joyous expression of creativity. The body of work shown in this exhibition represents a large part of the graduate research in design conducted by Van Patter in partial fulfillment of her master’s degree program requirements.

A dress form in a museum exhibit
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Exhibit photos

Although the exhibition has ended, you can see photos online in our Flickr album.

The Gustafson Gallery is located in room 318 of the Gifford Building at 502 West Lake Street. Hours are from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday-Friday. Admission is free. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the gallery will be closed until further notice.

The exhibition is sponsored by the Department of Design and Merchandising. The Gustafson Gallery is under the umbrella of the department’s Avenir Museum of Design and Merchandising, part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.