Tanya Melendez Escalante
FASHION EDUCATION IN THE MUSEUM CONTEXT: THE MFIT CROSS-POLLINATION WORKSHOP
Tanya Melendez Escalante, Senior Curator of education and public programs, The Museum at FIT – USA
The Museum at FIT’s Cross-Pollination workshop: Masterpieces of the Collections was a collaborative project that brought together students from the State University of New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, with students from Atelier Romo in Mexico City, working in conjunction with Sala de Arte Publico Siqueiros (SAPS) in Mexico City, and The Museum at FIT (MFIT), in New York City. The collaboration took place during the 2011-12 academic year, and was rooted in the institutions’ common interest in creating learning experiences based on museum collections.
The goals of the Cross-Pollination workshop were to inspire students to research and create original fashion using museum collections, while partnering with students from other countries. The workshop provided a platform for students to establish contact, exchange information and ideas, while collaborating in the same manner as they would work in the creative industries, (ie. with colleagues from other disciplines, with different talents and interests). For this workshop, we approached design as a problem-solving discipline aimed at resolving complex problems with a minimum of resources in the most efficient manner. Cross-Pollination participants learned about the fashion industries in the United States and Mexico, as well as the arts and culture from each country, in order to gain a better understanding of the social environment and history that inspires fashion.
Students used the exhibition Fashion A-Z: Highlights from the Collection of The Museum at FIT, Part One, which was on view at MFIT November 12, 2011 – May 8, 2012, to analyze trends, production methods, and construction of historic and contemporary garments. Students also used the murals and archive of SAPS, the museum in charge of the estate of famed Mexican muralist David Alfaro Siqueiros, as a source of inspiration.
While the students never met in person, they were in contact weekly through the social media platform Skype. Sessions took place once a week for two months. Students in Mexico created a fashion collection, a video/art piece, and a mural. The students in the United States wrote an essay about the fashion collection designed by Atelier Romo students, conducted interviews with artists and curators, and styled a fashion photography session using the designs created by the students from Mexico City. To accompany and document the workshop, a book was published, which contained the work by the participating students described above.
Presentations for the students’ work in both Mexico City and New York City were the culmination of the workshop. In the summer of 2012, there was a one-day installation at SAPS with the garments and artwork produced at Atelier Romo. In 2013, the book was presented in New York at the Instituto Cervantes where there was another installation of the garments.
The mentors in this project were Sebastian Romo, a visual artist and director of Atelier Romo, and Tanya Melendez, Senior Curator of Education and Public Programs at The Museum at FIT. Together, they created a workshop where fashion could be better understood, by means of non-conventional creative venues.
She has organized over 90 public programs, including the Fashion Culture series, at MFIT.
Prior positions include arts manager at the British Council Mexico, development coordinator at design university CENTRO, and professor at Universidad Latinoamericana.
She has written about fashion in Mexican audiovisual culture, and fashion and art in the museum context. Tanya Meléndez was a Fulbright Scholar and holds an MA in Fashion and Textiles: History, Theory, and Museum Practices from the Fashion Institute of Technology.