Representing the creative future

CSM MA FASHION IMAGE 2020: Meet this year’s graduates

We asked this year’s Fashion Image students about their experience on the course and their hopes for the future

We have explored in depth the consequences of COVID-19 on fashion education from the emotional implications on students to the worries around employability that are part of every current graduate’s nightmares. During the last months, some students have left fashion and art education, and others felt lost and angry about the courses that they stayed in. Surprisingly, this year’s MA Fashion Communication students at Central Saint Martin’s seem grateful for their time on the program and hopeful for their future, a possible result of the close-knitted nature of the course.

Due to the limited number of students and their direct connection to their tutors, the transition to online learning has been smooth and well-orchestrated. Divided into three pathways: Fashion Image, Fashion Journalism, and Fashion Critical Studies, the program has the notion of collaboration at its core. The students are constantly creating teams with other pathways as well as other courses, which might be what made creating in lockdown less lonely for them. With a multidisciplinary approach to the field of Fashion Communication, the Fashion Image pathway students did not get limited by contrived perceptions of what a fashion image should be. Producing work that is closer to fine art photography and concepts influenced more by sociopolitical phenomena rather than clothes, the class of 2020 provides us with a refreshing take in a field that is saturated by fashion images that reference previous fashion images.

In celebration of their graduation, the tutors and students created a limited edition publication named PORTFOLIO urging the readers to go through the work and get in touch with the young creatives directly. Here is the work of the five Fashion Image students.

 

Raminta Ceponyte

Can language affect the way we view the world? Influenced by familial relations, Raminta Ceponyte focused her final project on exploring the link between language and identity by attempting to speak more of her mother tongue (Lithuanian) at home during the lockdown with her sister. In a world where migration has become easy, Ceponyte’s work reflects on the feeling of loss when a language gets forgotten and attempts to replace the void, created by migration, with images.

Despite being a bit bitter for embarking on a one-year course in 2020, and weighted with the financial repercussions that come hand-in-hand with this point in time, Raminta is grateful for being part of such a small and close-knitted group where she could share her work freely. The MA helped Ceponyte to define her photographic language, and to realise that the greatest advice she could possibly give to anyone who aspires to pursue a postgraduate path is to plan ahead, “have a good idea of what you would want to produce as a major project, or at least have a plan of things that you would like to achieve,” Raminta concludes.

Geri Dempsey

Dublin born Geri Dempsey, has already founded her own magazine, Cove, and intended to use her time at CSM to expand on her digital skills. The working conditions during the pandemic became a fertile ground for this objective, as she translated her print design work into creative coding and web design. “We were far luckier than many that we could continue to work in some way,” she says, happy that she could go ahead with her academic goals during the lockdown. By building and curating a digital exhibition named “Beyond our Grasp,” she got the chance to collaborate with photographers and designers and developed an interest in the topic of modern faith and people’s emotional links to objects.

“An MA, and CSM itself, can open so many doors, but you have to be ready to make things happen for yourself!” Dempsey explains, reflecting on how a degree from CSM is definitely a plus but means nothing without hard work. Even if she hopes that her experimentation with interactive design will land her a job after graduation, she values personal growth as much: “I would be content if I could find a bit of balance and stability in 2021.”

 

Stephanie Francis-Shanahan

“[When the pandemic hit] I felt so grateful to be in education and didn’t want to waste time thinking about what might have been instead.” Stephanie Francis-Shanahan’s work is based on looking at the bright side of things, at collective experiences like going to a football match or dancing at a rave party. Stephanie’s visuals are a collage of references and mediums, from illustration and photography to video-making, an area that she wants to work more on in the future.

Wishing that her time on the course could last longer, she urges any current or future students to engage with their peers as much as possible, as peer-to-peer learning is an unending resource for feedback and knowledge. With a background in Fine Art, she looks at fashion image as an art form that does not have to live only on magazine pages, aiming to develop paintings and large scale pieces for gallery spaces. Just like her classmates, she aspires that her time post-graduation is defined by rest and optimism for the year to come.

 

Jessica Gianelli

“CSM made me feel like I could finally just be what  I am, without trying to fit into any sort of archetype or mould.” Jessica Gianelli wants to tackle any kind of societal box through her work. Her images, mainly comprising of portraits, use personal narratives to recontextualise depictions of black women as we know them. “I aim to offer a platform for the image to act as a catalyst for transcendence of the many boxes that society tries to fit us into,” she explains. Her fellow classmates, all young women, played an important role in the experience of pursuing an MA during the lockdown, encouraging her to meet her goals even in moments that these felt out of reach.

Jessica wants to continue her project even after her graduation and would like to explore the world of moving image and curation, excited for any opportunities that will come her way.

 

 

Silvana Trevale

Silvana Trevale’s work is a constant exploration of her roots, with her home country Venezuela being the protagonist of any project she undertakes. Photography is the medium she chose to dive into the hidden narratives of the people in her country. “The escalating crisis in my home country has motivated me to return to Venezuela every year since 2017 to document the lives of women, teenagers, and children in a time of economic, social, and political unrest,” she explains. Due to Covid-19 restrictions she started working remotely with her grandmother and her mother to research the women in her family, creating what she calls “a love letter to Latin American mothers.” The photographs act as a window to Trevale’s childhood and represent the stories of the women in her research.

Inspired heavily by her classmates during the course, she values networking as the most essential tool for a young photographer in the industry. Silvana will continue working on her project and hopes to be able to return to Venezuela in order to do her research “on the field” as she originally planned.

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