Student develops personal empowerment through feminine-focused fashion

Agnès Lin’s artistic arsenal extends from canvas to fabric.

The third-year art and art history student said her projects spanning various mediums have allowed for deep explorations of her femininity and sense of self. Lin shares many of her works on social media, including sketches, paintings, and wearable pieces that often feature women as their primary focus. Although she considers painting and drawing her favorite art forms, Lin said multi-dimensional art offers a level of exhilaration through its interactive nature.

“I like texture and I like to touch and feel,” Lin said. “Art is about interacting with the senses, and with painting you engage with your eyes. With other more 3D arts you can interact with your touch and your depth (of) perception to some degree if you can get closer.

At a young age, Lin said she expressed her creativity through large amounts of drawing and watercolors, which led her mother to hide the drawing paper to prevent Lin from using it all. Beyond drawing and painting, Lin said her exploration of fashion — which began with a dress made from soda cans — led to a sense of personal empowerment.

“I found myself through fashion – it really helped me build my self-esteem,” Lin said. “I’ve always wanted to do clothes, modify them, etc., but it was only on this dress (made of pop tabs) that… I did (something) physics, not 2D .”

Lin is seated at a desk, framed by a fabric-draped mannequin on the left and notes taped to the wall above. For Lin, the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in more limited access to materials, leading to more cutting-edge designs. (Finn Chitwood/Daily Bruin)

[Related: Graduate student uses undervalued art forms to create meaningful art]

After reading “The Secret Lives of Color” by Kassia St. Clair, Lin said the book’s mention of a dress created by Spanish designer Paco Rabanne made out of bottle corks led her to imagine her own version. Before she finally wore her creation to prom, she said it took about three months to create the silver, full-length dress, during which she enlisted friends to help her amass pop tabs . Wyatt Clay, a friend and classmate of Lin’s, said he remembered the excitement of seeing the end product of Lin’s detailed creative process.

During the pandemic, Lin said she was able to further hone her fashion skills by pushing the boundaries of her designs with avant-garde designs. Lin was living in Chicago at the time and brought only a small portion of her art supplies, which she says forced her to be more inventive and detail-oriented in her use of materials. Lin said she found the ability to be transported by her own designs during this time by developing and wearing designs that didn’t fit the limits of everyday wear.

“(The work) that interested me the most during that time was putting myself in a different world and almost creating a character for myself,” Lin said. “I don’t necessarily feel like I’m myself there – maybe an extension of myself.”

One of Lin’s works during this period is an outfit set consisting mostly of teal, purple, and cream hues. While she said the eye motif, prominent in the top of the outfit and the jeweled headpiece, is inspired by an iconic eye design found in her friend Isabella Parenti’s sketches, the color palette has been strongly influenced by the availability of supplies. By saving beads and painting them to match the design aesthetic, Lin said she shaped the different materials to meet his needs for the piece.

Inspired by Spanish designer Paco Rabanne and his friend Isabella Parenti, Lin created a silver ballgown featuring soda can tabs (left) and a teal, purple and cream beaded ensemble (right), respectively .  (Courtesy of Agnès Lin)
Inspired by Spanish designer Paco Rabanne and his friend Isabella Parenti, Lin created a silver ballgown featuring soda can tabs (left) and a teal, purple and cream beaded ensemble (right), respectively . (Courtesy of Agnès Lin)

[Related: UCLA student’s diverse art portfolio champions sensitivity, reminisces on memories]

Similar to his translation of a sketch into a wearable eye-centric work, Lin said his pieces influence each other, with many of his sketches later inspiring paintings. Aesthetically, Lin said her art style was partly driven by her penchant for pigment and texture, but thematically she found femininity and the concept of the divine feminine to be her greatest muses. Anna Miller, a friend of Lin, said that in addition to examining female identity, Lin has the ability to artistically interpret her environment, conveying it in her designs.

“Everybody used to say in high school, ‘If (Lin) is watching you in class, it’s because she’s drawing you,'” Miller said. “I feel like his work is full of love for the people in his life. It’s almost like a love letter to the people around him.

Lin said finding strength and power through her identity led her to place women at the center of her early works. While many of Lin’s works still feature female figures, she said her development as an artist allowed her to focus on femininity in a non-personified way and infuse emotions related to personal experiences. with sexism in his work. Analyzing the expansive nature of female identity, Lin said she aims to create pieces that immerse the viewer, with recent paintings focusing on the interconnectedness of light, dark and hue.

For her next large-scale project, Lin is developing pieces for FAST at UCLA’s annual spring parade. She said her ongoing collection — which will debut in late May — plays with ocean curvatures and visuals and includes another pop tab creation. As she continues to develop her identity as an artist, Lin said she hopes to explore new themes and engage with unfamiliar art forms, pushing the boundaries of her signature style.

“I want to push how far my aesthetic goes, like (to) what limits, because I don’t think I’ll ever do anything that doesn’t look like mine – but how far can I push that?” Lin said. “How far can I go between rooms, between my work and just exploring?”

About Tracy G. Larimore

Check Also

Avery MacGuinness creates unique dresses from books

Avery MacGuinness. Photo by Angie Gray While studying fashion at school, 15-year-old Avery MacGuinness sewed …