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History meets creativity in student design challenge

October 31, 2013

  • Historical Project Runway 2013 winning team of Caleb Diehl ’16, Caitlin Morris ’16, and Olivia Davis ’16.

With inspiration from the popular television show Project Runway, Lewis & Clark’s Department of History offered students an opportunity turn their historical knowledge into tangible entertainment.

The second annual Historical Project Runway event required teams of three students to assemble outfits in accordance with specific periods in history. Prior to the event, faculty and student coordinators developed options for the eras students could select. They also took a trip to Portland’s Goodwill outlet store, where they acquired a vast array of clothing and accessories for use by student designers.

The designers had less than an hour to develop creative visions, search for appropriate items, and dress their models. While permitted to cut, paste, and even sew, students felt the constraints of limited time. “Once you began to put your ideas into effect, it was hard to make changes,” said student coordinator and participant Tyler Wayne Patterson ’16.

Assistant Professor of History Reiko Hillyer developed the idea for Historical Project Runway with the help of students Daniela Jimenez ’14 and Fiona Murray ’13. They hoped that the event would foster community building within the department while also being of interest to students not taking history courses. Indeed, the event has been well attended, with participants hailing from many different academic departments.

Students must not only demonstrate creativity, but also translate abstract ideas into concrete creations. This year’s winning team of Caleb Diehl ’16, Caitlin Morris ’16, and Olivia Davis ’16 captured the birth of psychoanalysis in an ensemble that represented Freud’s philosophies.

“A team assigned ‘suburbia’ will not do well if all they do is create an outfit that a suburban housewife would wear,” Hillyer said. “Instead, they must dig deeper into the social, cultural, and economic implications of suburbia and find a way to convey those ideas aesthetically.”

Katrina Staaf ’16 contributed to this story.

See 2013 Photos Department of History

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