Paper Gowns Garner Major Award for University of Arkansas Student
Emily Chase has been selected to receive the Windgate Fellowship Award, which recognizes the nation’s “best and brightest emerging makers in the field of craft.”
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Emily Chase, an art major in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences and an Honors College Fellow, won a Windgate Fellowship Award for exploring an unusual art form: exquisitely crafted, life-sized paper gowns. Chase is the first University of Arkansas student to be honored with this award, which provides $15,000 in support of her career.
The Windgate Fellowship is one of three national award programs funded by the Center for Craft, Creativity & Design. Each year the center invites more than 70 universities to nominate two graduating seniors with exemplary skill in craft to compete for the Windgate Fellowship; only 10 students are selected.
“This is the most prestigious and competitive undergraduate award in the nation for art students,” said Robin Roberts, dean of Fulbright College. “Emily Chase’s work embodies the art department’s commitment to creativity and originality. We are proud of her and the department.”
Chase has been folding, sewing and sculpting paper for several years. Her works in paper range from a flock of origami cranes that were installed in the Arkansas Union to the three elaborate paper gowns that comprise her honors thesis.
“Paper has a lot of expressive possibilities,” she said. “I love to take something so mundane and everyday and do something unexpected with it.”
Chase painted, cut, scraped, pricked and scorched various aspects of the paper garments, which lure and provoke the viewer with unexpected details. A quilted paper spine and ribs form the back of Hollow Bones, confining painted birds suspended within the bodice; in Husk, a delicate tracery of blue blood vessels painted within are revealed when the gown is illuminated.
Historical costume and the rich visual language of fairytales inspired these works, but with the encouragement of her faculty mentor, Kristin Musgnug, an associate professor of art, Chase explored the deeper themes embedded in the tales and her own emotional processes, as well.
“Professor Musgnug helped me to step back, look at what I was doing, and why I was doing it,” Chase said. “She’s amazing at pushing me to look at things in new ways.”
Chase will leave for Japan soon after graduating, where she looks forward to studying that country’s rich tradition in paper crafts and clothing design. She also plans to take a class in three-dimensional paper techniques at the Penland School of Crafts in Penland, N.C., and travel to New York City to visit the museums there.
Her work is included in Crafted Identities: Honors Thesis Work of Emily Chase, Melissa Love, and Jeanne Vockroth, currently on display at the East Square Plaza on the Fayetteville Square, 1 E. Center St., with a closing reception scheduled from 5-8 p.m. Friday, April 26. Her work also will be included in the BFA/BA Awards Exhibition taking place April 29-May 4 in the Fine Arts Center Gallery on campus.
Kendall Curlee, director of communications
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