Maegan Stracy - Permutations & Combinations

Maegan Stracy hails from Kansas city, Missouri. She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts from the Kansas City Art Institute, with a double major in Fiber and Art History. Maegan continued to work in the city, as part of a two-year residency program at the Charlotte Street Foundation. Soon after, she served as an adjunct professor for a year, in the fiber department at her previous college. Eventually, she moved to L.A. in 2015, in order to work as a production manager at 69—a clothing line. She is currently working as a freelance designer in L.A, and continues exploring her ideas through fashion shows, exhibitions, and an eponymous fashion label.

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Fashion is a multifaceted subject, related to different types of design, and aspects of fine art: one that is significant, and insightful against the background of culture, history, aesthetics, and technology. Maegan Stracy’s work lies at a juncture of fashion and art. She defines herself as a “multimedia artist and designer”, quite accurately, and uniquely so. In exploring the ways garments and art interact, she makes use of a variety of materials, with a focus on creating pieces that speak, perform, and make one respond to them in a visceral way. The designed pieces have an imposing materiality, and their striking presence lends them a performative quality. The element of tactility in her design raises questions: about the process of making it, the fibers used, the historical or cultural context behind it, and possibilities for the future of fashion. Thus, the tactility is not just a feature per se in her work; through the “tactile surfaces and structures”, the garments refer to the history of fashion, textile production, and the fiber.

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Experimenting with different materials, and production processes allows her to work across timelines, historical concepts, and other rigid boundaries in a way that reworks, recontextualizes, and remakes the traditional processes—instead of constructing a sterile mausoleum for the past. Stracy’s educational background in textiles, and art history explains her interest in the history of textiles, fibre designers, and how technical, industrial, and societal developments influence fashion. Stracy brings the primality of materials to her reflexive design work, which allows her to work out, and play with how all these elements constitute, inspire, and move the fashion world/industry.

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Stracy’s materially investigative work with different textiles, and other materials takes a lot of time, and labor. The first step involves sampling, and sketching. After that, starting with a piece consists of working “through a regimented system, a grid or a layout, as most textile structures have some form of pattern or repetition”. Permutations of different processes are worked out, and combinations of hand and machine processes are tried out . For Stracy, the main excitement lies in entering the stage of “cutting into, and breaking apart that structure to make it into garment”. The most notable feature of Stracy’s work process is her stress on craft, on “creating slow, handcrafted, one of a kind piece that can be cherished”. Part of the reason behind this approach is her introduction to fashion production in Los Angeles, which exposed her to the processes by which small, and large scale brands create clothes—from conception to delivery—, these were wasteful, and harmful to the environment. She wants her garments to last, to be unique, to be part of a conscious lifestyle, and to make one think about what is wearable. While she likes to keep track about the trends—their manifestations, historical origins, and movements among labels—in the fashion sphere, she tries to keep her operations outside the system of trends, their demands, and the limited sphere of the fashion world.

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Stracy has kept her work experience wide-ranging, and flexible. Aside from having done the expected, and exciting work around/in costumes and design, she has also exhibited her work at museums, curated others, served as a guest lecturer, held teaching positions, and most importantly, she has set up her own eponymous clothing line. Her design stresses the making of the cloth, the material the piece is made of, its functioning, and its innovativeness. Her creative work with materials, processes, and forms has resulted in an inimitable collection of clothes that demonstrate intelligent, and suggestive material explorations. The clothes are wearable, and they beautifully balance formal explorations, utility, and design.

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Maegan eagerly claims creativity as a natural space for her, one she has always gravitated towards, and where she will always belong. She acknowledges the privilege of having received the institutional support from a fine arts school, which offered her a good support system that fostered creativity, and the opportunity to immerse herself in a community of peers. Creativity is generally considered to be innate to a person, but its existence has important external factors; it depends on how it is developed, fostered, and valued—financially, and intellectually—in a culture/society. Stracy realises this, and thus, sees the necessity for art to be a democratised, safe space for everybody to “express their perspectives, anxieties, and solutions for a better future”. On a personal level, Stracy understands, and values her creative processes as a physical way of channelling, and working out her thoughts, ideas, and problems—conceptual or emotional. Art allows her to resolve her theories, by combining concepts and physical work, and is central to her life in this manner.