BFA textile artist finds inspiration for her creations in science and science fiction

Indiana University BFA student Larrea Young isn’t your everyday textile artist.

Larrea Young

Larrea Young

Her coats are highlighted with twisting stitched patterns reminiscent of veins, or malevolent fingers scrabbling for the soul of a victim. Another is seamed so it appears a face is emerging from the dark gray wool, like something out of an eerie “Twilight Zone” episode. There are skulls with antlers and blank eyes that peer from behind tree limbs. And her large bean-bag-style chair that looks uncannily like a Wild Thing from Maurice Sendak’s classic children’s book actually unzips, allowing a child to wear it as a costume.

“My inspiration, for the most part, comes from science,” said Young, the daughter of two archaeologists who hails from Ann Arbor, Mich. “Growing up, I wanted to be a biologist. And I’ve always loved science fiction and fantasy. Tim Burton is one of my favorites, and Alexander McQueen and the Swiss surrealist, H.R. Giger, who did the concept art for the film ‘Alien.’ And, of course, Edgar Allan Poe.”

She likes to say she arrived at IU’s Henry Radford Hope School of Fine Arts “by accident,” visiting Bloomington on a whim with her father on their way to another campus.

“I loved the campus, and they have a really good program,” she said. “I said, ‘This just feels right,’ and so I came here.”

In addition to her studies, she’s worked in the Musical Arts Center’s opera costume shop and with a local seamstress. She’s also a design assistant for Pip and Bean, a Bloomington-based company that creates customized superhero capes for children.

Young's vein jacket design

Young’s vein jacket design.

She praised fine arts professor Rowland Ricketts and fashion design professor Deb Christiansen for helping develop her talents.

“Dr. Christiansen taught me the pattern drafting, construction and ideation skills necessary to successfully turn the garments in my imagination into wearable pieces,” she said. “Professor Ricketts has similarly given me critical tools to use in my art, and has pushed me to open my mind and think outside the box about the fiber arts. He’s also spent a great amount of time helping me break free of the constraints of fashion, to merge my garment construction and textile techniques seamlessly in a unique and more artistic way.”

And her work is already being recognized — Young recently received the 2013 Provost’s Award for Research and Creative Activity in the performing and creative arts category.

Among her upcoming projects? Spending time with her fiancé, whom she met at IU, another serendipitous result of her collegiate choice; taking classes; and beginning work for her final show as a student.

“It’s a whole new collection that no one’s seen,” she said. “That’s because it doesn’t exist yet, except in my head.”

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