The Fabric of Creativity
When it comes to cultivating creativity in the classroom, educator Jean Brendal knows how it’s done. Ms. Brendel, who teaches Apparel and Costume Design at Northwest School of the Arts in Charlotte, North Carolina, provides several opportunities for her classes to study the ins and outs of fashion, costume, and textile design.
“Students learn about textiles and how they are developed in Apparel I, “explains Ms. Brendel. “In Apparel II, they learn the different methods of producing a textile, specifically one with a print and they, in turn, design two different types of textiles using two different methods.” Student textiles are printed at Spoonflower, a North Carolina textile company, and are incorporated into a classroom project.
Ms. Brendel has taught Family and Consumer Sciences for the past eighteen years. She earned her Master's in the Art of Teaching from Eastern Carolina University. When asked about favorite projects she’s assigned over the years, she reveals that she has many. For one assignment, Ms. Brendel pairs up students and has them create the same picture, with one in cool colors and the other in warm. “This is a great visual on color and the illusions it gives the body,” she explains. One year, Ms. Brendel tasked her STEM Apparel I students to a grand challenge using unusual materials from a specific country they researched. Additionally, her students design and make the costumes for school productions, thus giving them hands-on, real-world experience in costume design.
When advising young people who are interested in pursuing a career in fashion, Ms. Brendel encourages them to take part in outside learning opportunities to supplement what they’re doing in the classroom. “I suggest they find a summer program at one of the fantastic colleges that offers them, such as FIDM, in order to gain a better understanding of the fashion and costume design world,” she explains.
Of course, educators understand that there will be those days in which students don’t feel creative. “I tell them to channel those feelings into their work and, at times, these have been their best artwork or garment because it allows them to express themselves in a way they may never have considered before,” says Ms. Brendel.
Over the years, Ms. Brendel has invited FIDM representatives to speak to her classes, offering details about FIDM majors as well as career paths into creative industries. This year, her students launched an official FIDM Fashion Club. She’s delighted that this opportunity can include those students who have a passion for fashion but are unable to take her courses due to scheduling conflicts.
When not in the classroom, Ms. Brendel enjoys playing tennis, sewing her own projects, and traveling with her family.