International graduate student insists, explores the future of art – News
Alone in the normally busy but now eerily quiet downtown Porto Alegre, Brazil, Illinois State University graduate student Rochele Gloor hurried past closed storefronts carrying a fresh supply of surgical masks — and dazzling fabrics.
It was March 2021, and most businesses were shuttered amid a further spike in coronavirus (COVID-19) infections and deaths across Brazil. However, Gloor continued her work as art director and costume designer for a five-part television documentary entitled Tramas da Moda (FashionNet), about the colorful history of fashion in the state of Rio Grande do Sul.
Gloor’s trip downtown to get “necessities” included ducking under a partially open steel roller shutter door to retrieve fabric and sequins from a local shopkeeper; The materials would be used to create a blouse for an upcoming documentary series. Gloor also stopped at a nearby pharmacy to buy masks for herself and beauty products for the documentary’s models.
With no makeup artist or seamstress available, the documentary’s filmmaker turned to Gloor, one of three remaining members of the reduced technical crew.
“They counted on me because I have good taste and I know how to be flexible and think about how to solve problems quickly and with beauty,” Gloor joked. She adjusted the iridescent blouse with clothespins and applied makeup to the model wearing the makeshift garment.
Gloor shared her experience a week later via Zoom with classmates, most of whom were more than 5,000 miles away and enrolled in the state of Illinois Creative Technologies Graduate Program. Almost a year earlier, Gloor had been admitted to graduate school and accepted an assistantship at University Galleries after a video interview with Director and Chief Curator Kendra Paitz, MBA ’06, MA ’11.
“That was right at the beginning of the pandemic. It was the first interview I had to do via zoom,” Paitz recalls. “And it was the moment our first grocery delivery of the pandemic came and my phone kept lighting up.”
Technological distractions aside, Paitz realized Gloor was a strong candidate. Gloor had eight years of experience working with prominent designers in the New York fashion industry before returning to Brazil, where she founded a sustainable clothing line, RGLOOR, in 2016.
A fashion designer and digital artist, Gloor pursued a master’s degree in a related field. She was introduced to Illinois State’s Creative Technologies Program by her friend Guilherme Rodrigues, an aspiring music conducting masters student.
With classes scheduled to begin in fall 2020, Gloor packed her bags. But just days before her scheduled departure, Gloor received word she was unable to leave due to travel restrictions related to the pandemic.
Forced to delay her enrollment until spring, Gloor attempted to travel to campus again. but again their efforts were in vain. Frustrated but refusing to accept defeat, Gloor decided to start graduate courses online from Brazil.
“It took me getting started in the first place to show, ‘Yeah, I’m really interested in doing this,'” Gloor said. “As it turned out, I learned so many new things. And I met people, did group projects. It was wonderful. And all my professors have been so helpful.”
Gloor managed to balance her first semester at Illinois State’s online graduate school with work on the Brazilian fashion documentary series. Then, in July, Gloor finally boarded a plane to the United States
“When I arrived, it was a real relief,” Gloor recalls.
At Normal, Gloor began her residency with tasks including graphic design projects, event and exhibit set-up, assisting with the transition to a new digital database, helping create an interactive map of campus artworks, and interacting with visitors.
“She’s already become such a permanent member of the team,” Paitz said.
Paitz and Gloor hope to collaborate on a project to improve the virtual experiences related to the university galleries’ exhibitions and collections.
Additionally, through a grant from Friends of the Arts, Gloor is exploring zero-waste fashion in a virtual artistic environment using Clo3D, a software program that enables designers to create virtual, lifelike 3D clothing visualizations.
Compared to traditional apparel development, Gloor said that simulation technologies like Clo3D “can reduce lead times, reduce waste and lower costs.” In addition, Gloor sees artistic uses for clothing simulation software, such as digitally dressing social media influencers or designing outfits for video game characters.
“Digital creation knows no boundaries for artistic ideas,” said Gloor. “You can do what you have in mind.”
Gloor believes there is an intrinsic relationship between humans and nature and now technology. She plans to unite technology, humanity and art through an upcoming independent study with Associate Director of Creative Technologies Dr. Roy Magnuson ’05, which focuses on developing a virtual reality meditation space that includes graphics, color, and sound design.
“I want to expand the aesthetics of meditation,” Gloor said. “I want to create this amazing thing so people can dive in and try to really improve their lives.”
Gloor, who has shown perseverance in the face of unexpected challenges, also sees unprecedented opportunity in this moment – for herself and for humanity.
“It was difficult to live in a way, but at the same time we live in a very interesting era of many innovations. Being part of an academic field now – I feel lucky to be able to explore all these things that are happening now.”
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