Ashley Wernher-Collins '16

Watching a textile come to life on the body is extremely rewarding.
Describe a body of work that you are currently working on.
Currently, my work reflects themes of transformation as it relates to personal growth or natural experiences. In my machine knitting class I recently finished a garment that was inspired by a snake shedding its skin. In my Major’s Studio, I am working on a mini-collection of garments that are inspired by storm fronts and the physical reactions (i.e. change in barometric pressure) that one experiences with the passing of those fronts. Next semester, for my thesis work, I am considering a series of garments that reflect my experiences within life stages… i.e. becoming a wife or mother, the passing of a parent, etc.

What’s your background? 
In my 20’s I received a BA in Art History from Bowdoin College. At that time I was interested in how artists communicated culture and world experiences through art. I also studied many different forms of fine art but have been particularly drawn to textiles and craft since my teens. As an adult I practiced weaving, knitting, and felting. I applied to MECA with a desire to learn to speak conceptually through my work. I had planned to focus my studies on textile development but fell in love with garment making. Watching a textile come to life on the body is extremely rewarding. It is like viewing sculpture in motion.

How has your education at MECA shaped you as an artist? 
As I indicated above, my artistic practice prior to MECA felt dull. While executed well, my work lacked an intellectual and emotional component. I was making products without meaning. Through my education, I have learned to communicate both physical and emotional experiences through textile development, garment construction and design.

What inspires you?
Artistically, I am inspired by pattern, color, and structure in natural and architectural environments. Intellectually, I am inspired by human relationships and personal growth stages.

What do you hope to do after graduation? 
After graduation I would like to make consignment garments for individual clients. I hope to inspire the viewpoint that everyday garments can be well made, comfortable and truly reflect one’s personal character. I would like to help people understand the value of owning and interacting with finely made products. We have a choice in how we represent ourselves and how we connect with our world. I would like to see the relationship between artist, owner and product/art blossom.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Change is an inevitable fact of life. It should be embraced as an opportunity for growth. Wherever we are at any one time in our life is where we are meant to be. We are there because we are ready to handle the challenges and rewards of those experiences.