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Full Steam Ahead: Armstrong Merges Fashion and Technology in an Innovative New Program

(December 14, 2015) - Trending on the global wave of sustainable fashion, Armstrong’s FashTECH Project merges media with technology and inspires local high school students. Led by Fine Arts professors Rachel Green and Angela Horne, the project recently made a splash with an inaugural exhibition on campus.

The all-female group of participants, comprised of 20 area high school students, and led by five Armstrong female college-aged mentors and faculty, showcased upcycled, or refashioned, garments, toiled over during a seven-work workshop, which was funded by a Community Action Grant from the American Association for University Women (AAUW), Armstrong and Telfair Museums.

The tech fashion creations, landscaped with sensors, LEDS and 3D-printed plastic filaments that turn accessories and clothes into light-up wearable artworks that respond to movement and sound, are, according to Horne, valuable teaching tools.

“We believe it is important to be able to provide highly specialized educational experiences,” she says. “And in this case, with the generosity of the AAUW, we have been able to provide this female-centric workshop series utilizing technology.”

Primary program goals are to create awareness of, readiness for and confidence in the students’ ability to pursue STEAM academic areas, develop leadership skills for female college-aged mentors, provide a technology-based learning experience for young women in the Savannah region and generate a female-centered STEAM curriculum that will be widely disseminated.

Hannah San Juan, a junior at Johnson High School, is visibly excited about the skills she has harnessed designing and hand-sewing a tech bent, multi-layered dress, with nods to icon Lady Gaga.

“It’s really cool,” says a smiling San Juan, as her mentor, Armstrong Fine Arts graduating senior Richelle Redwood, pulls pieces of the LED-stitched fabric, which flashes green as she speaks. “I want to wear it to my senior prom!” Admittedly, most of the students experienced challenges, having never sewn or hand- dyed fabric or worked with 3D machinery, but as Victoria Torres, a sophomore at Windsor Forest High School, shares, it’s great to push outside standard art class boundaries.

“We’ve never had anything like this,” she notes, with nervous anticipation of a final rotation of the wearable designs in January at The Jepson Center, in conjunction with Telfair Museum's PULSE Festival 2016. “I’m really excited to see it there.”

Professor Horne hopes the FashTech project will increase awareness in STEAM areas and provide leadership opportunities for young women.

“We hope to grow a community where this type of development is anticipated and encouraged,” she says. “We’re already encouraged by the scope and interest of local talent.”

Jeff Bush

“The professors at Armstrong really expand your vision of what a degree field is all about. They push you to see how any major is applicable in the real world.”

Jeff Bush
Class of 2013
Economics