Being An Artist & Designer

Posted by: Roy Wilbur

Click here to read and interview with Heather Ujiie

Heather Ujiie spent the past 15 years as a textile designer in the home furnishings industry. Born and raised in New York City, she attended three universities and received three degrees – a BS in Visual Art from SUNY-New Paltz, an Associate’s degree in Surface Print Design from the Fashion Institute of Technology and a Certificate in Art Education, K-12 from Brooklyn College.

She currently designs wallpaper and has a vibrant textile art-based practice. “My personal belief is that you can be an artist and a designer at the same time, and I do that,” she said. “I also create unique visions in my textile installation work, exhibited in galleries and museums. These days I am also designing ‘Art To Wear’ pieces, which are unique garments that integrate all my interests in both art, design and technology.”

In the past, Ujiie worked as a costume designer for off-off Broadway theatre in New York City and spent a year assisting in production of costumes for the Julliard School.

When she learned that Moore College of Art & Design had a Textiles program, she immediately wanted to work at the College. She said Moore is unique because it stresses both fine arts and commercial design application.

“I love working at an all girl’s college because I’m all about empowering women to be successful and independent entrepreneurs,” she said. “I also love the healthy, positive competition that exists within a small all-women’s college, where every student is committed to the highest caliber of work. It’s a wonderful synthesis of real-world job skills and unique creative outcomes.”

Ujiie, who was recently asked to develop a new elective around “innovative sustainable textiles” for interior designers, believes that it’s important to keep her finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the arts world, so she often takes her students to the opera, museums and galleries. This semester, she took students to the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) and the Brooklyn Museum in New York City.

“It’s really important for students to understand the responsibilities of being socially engaged with the community,” she said. “The most critical thing about teaching methodology is looking at a broad range of different types of art and design and not getting pigeon-holed into one area, so that they can be as innovative and engaged as possible.”

Ujiie exhibited her work in Erotic Alchemy at the Philadelphia Art Alliance, showcasing new surface imaging technologies, including laser cutting and digital printing. She used Moore’s “Fab Lab,” also known as a fabrication lab, to laser cut black acrylic sheets to make an “erotic warrior garment” from multiple triangular flat shapes. These were laser cut, hand linked and grommet together together to construct an armor inspired fashion piece.

“My motto is ‘Stay young, stay hip, stay current,’” Ujiie said. “Never get old, never become limited by your environment or your age and always have your finger on the pulse of what’s going on in society with technology, science and art. Be forward thinking and as well-rounded as possible to have the commercial skills to survive in the real world. The more educated and open you are, the more innovative your work will become.”

Click here to see more of Heather’s work on her website

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