Artist of the Week Amanda Roessler ʼ24 on Fashion and Field Hockey

In a culture that so often separates athletics and art, Amanda Roessler ʼ24 finds overlap not only in the functionality of these genres but also in their relationship to her identity and daily life. 

Amanda, a double major in art history and classical studies, explores painting as well as structural artistic mediums, with a focus on fashion concepts and wearable pieces with unconventional and innovative materials. Her creative use of items for clothing composition began in high school, where her finished products could be described as much as conceptual sculptures as they could clothing over mannequins. 

Amanda’s family was a constant supporter throughout her childhood and greatly influenced her decision to pursue art and fashion. The more she immersed herself in the field, the more courage she gained to try new techniques and teach herself different strategies. 

“I’ve always had an interest in fashion. And I guess when I first started, I was a little bit scared about sewing and the skills like that. So using hot glue and hand sewing was more familiar to me. And then, as I got more comfortable with designing fashion pieces, I was ready to take that challenge of learning how to sew with the sewing machine and more advanced techniques and moving on to fabrics, as opposed to more unconventional materials.”

At Swarthmore, Amanda has taken a drawing class and is currently in Painting I. She took a sculpture class over an online period, which added a complicated dimension because it was remote. Thus, in considering the COVID-era disconnection that happened during some of her artistic processes, Amanda also understands quarantine and distance as themes in her work. 

Amanda hopes to engage more closely with the art community as she continues her time at Swarthmore, now in person. One way in which she is doing this is through her List Gallery internship. 

“I feel that I’m able to connect a lot more deeply with the artists and really see all the behind the scenes that goes into the process of a gallery,” she shared.

Amanda is also a defender on the field hockey team, and this athletic context influences her art. Describing her reasoning for creating a dress from sporting equipment items, Amanda explained:

“I took a lot of inspiration from my own balance between my femininity and athletics and trying to find a balance through my own passion of being athletic, but also feminine and in a non-stereotypical way … and trying to be authentically myself and proud of that.”

Amanda explained that the deliberate shapes and materials of the pieces explored different components of her identity and endeavored to speak to audiences through her art, encouraging them to both reimagine their conceptions of femininity in athleticism and relate to women experiencing similar questions of balance.

“I tried to make an emphasis on line and shape and really crisp sections of the piece. So having a feminine flair, and yet also a very strong piece, using these sporting equipment to alter people’s expectations on what fashion can be and what female athletes can do … The first one I did was probably one of my favorites. The top was made out of softballs. And to me, it reminded me of armor in the way that it was constructed. And yet there’s still some flair to it. There are some red glittery threads hand woven into it to replicate the stitches; there’s a little bit of a cut out. So there’s some feminine pieces, and yet it’s still crafted almost like armor, and also like a bodice. So it’s going back and forth between that tension of a more feminine form, and this female empowerment as well.”

Amanda has also made pieces for Swarthmore’s spring student fashion show, BOUQUET. The 2022 theme was “Do Not Touch,” which Amanda interpreted separately in two pieces. Amanda explained that she loves the element of problem-solving that exists in fashion sculpture, feeling  a sense of joy in solving the puzzles and fitting pieces into this theme. One design focused on distance during the height of the pandemic using a fabric that her mom had made cloth masks out of. The other tackled physical separation and boundaries by using found plastic fencing material from the campus. 

“[The piece was] commenting on the construction and all the areas that you can or cannot go on Swarthmore campus now … That was also an interesting piece where you wouldn’t necessarily realize it’s that construction fencing when you first look at it.” 

Amanda discussed the differences between seeing her art on display versus in motion on a runway. Audience interaction also differs, and Amanda enjoys seeing people as they observe her designs. 

“I think that when it’s on a mannequin, or in a show, people are more likely to be quiet in their admiration. I think in museums, in particular, people tend to be relatively quiet, walking around gallery spaces, sort of seeing things in the static. So seeing things in movement, it was a lot more clear, when people were clapping or cheering or commenting on things. So that was nice to hear a more auditory response from the audience or other people viewing my art.”

Just as her art expresses the complications between balancing arts and athletics on both social and emotional levels, Amanda also experiences logistical difficulties with these different undertakings.

“The art classes at Swarthmore tend to be a little bit longer and in the afternoon, so I usually have to leave class right away for practices or even miss class for games. So that’s been a little bit tough being an in-season athlete … But it’s very nice out of season because with all the resources at Swarthmore, when I have the time, I feel like there’s a lot of things that can be done with the makerspace and the media center. So there are a lot of resources. But I do feel like the time conflict definitely interferes while I’m in season.”

Nonetheless, Amanda also finds commonalities between her response and relationship to fashion and field hockey.

“I do think they affect me in similar ways. I think it lets me sort of remove myself from everything else that’s going on in my life, whether it’s relationships, friendships, academic stress, anything else I’m sort of focused on — whether that’s a practice or a painting or a sculpture — being able to set aside time for myself to work on that activity and just be fully involved is really something that I enjoy. I see a connection between those things.”

Going forward, Amanda plans to continue her List Gallery internship and create new innovations in her fashion and sculpture at Swarthmore. As she finds peace and purpose in multidimensional facets of her life, Amanda shares this value and creative insight with her audience, be it the cheering spectators of BOUQUET or the pensive viewers of her personal and heartfelt pieces. 

1 Comment

  1. What a joy to hear from my granddaughter who is also my favorite artist
    She really is a well rounded person and and just special

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