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Edgar Heap of Birds Family Gallery, Lawrence KS, February 26-March 8 2024

Anne Rogers Thesis Groups 007.JPG

softline partial installation view.

Left to right: four arm wavers, 2024. Cotton yarn, plastic yarn, wood, shellac, paste wax, paracord, assorted hardware. 72”x35”x21”.

clothes rack coverlet, 2024. Cotton yarn, acrylic yarn, rayon yarn, wood, shellac, paste wax, assorted hardware. 71”x62”x35”.

spiral arm ascends, 2024. Cotton yarn, plastic yarn, wood, shellac, paste wax, paracord. 74”x40”x11”.

softline partial installation view.


When I walk into a clothing store, there’s bright lighting and peppy music playing, and aisles of brightly colored clothing organized by size, style, and type. On one side, the clothes are many colors and shapes: sometimes form-fitting, other times flowy. There are shiny and fluffy textures and frilly details. On the other, the clothes are more angular, and made up of muted colors. The fabrics are sturdier and there’s less variation in styles. I’m left in between, unsure if I will be able to find clothes that fit and feel right to me whichever direction I choose.


I have always had deep relationships with the clothes I wear, but these relationships are not always positive. For much of my life, I could not choose clothing that I really wanted to wear while maintaining relationships crucial to my wellbeing, due to the deeply gendered nature of clothing and my desire to explore styles outside of the gender assigned to me. Now, even when I find clothing that I like the style of, it often does not fit me, since my body is not the shape of body it was constructed for. Making my own clothes brings unwanted attention to aspects of my body that I did not choose and that do not feel like me. Clothing myself always ends in some sort of compromise.


Beneath all the clothing displayed in stores, the reflective, bony, machined forms of retail clothes racks hold it all up. As shoppers forever chase the next style, hoping it will provide them with a boost in status, comfort, happiness, and ease, the clothes racks voicelessly maintain the flow of consumption, all the while absorbing the colors and textures of the clothes around them so they fade into the background themselves.

I can use clothes to change the way I am perceived, but I am not always successful. But by exercising agency over what I wear, I can sometimes disrupt others’ perceptions of me. In much the same way, in my work I transform unwanted clothes into garments for retail clothes racks, reorienting the linear trajectory of clothing from factory to store to consumer to landfill. I salvage donated secondhand clothes that are unlikely to find a new wearer, whether because they are worn out, defective, or are simply an unpopular style. In clothing these sculptures, I experiment with clothing a form removed from human gender norms. I situate these clothed racks in installations that mimic fast fashion stores, but center the forms of the racks rather than concealing them.

Although each new day brings another opportunity to choose what I wear, the articles of clothing I own are not infinitely changeable: I only have a limited number. Being aware of the hours of labor and often non-renewable resources each garment requires to reach my closet, I do my best to take good care of my clothing and keep it for a long time. However, this is not the case for most people: On average, an article of clothing is only worn seven times in the United States before it is discarded (Maarit Saloleinen). This rapid turnover of clothing is perpetuated by stores that urge people to consume as much as possible.

Retail clothing stores that are ubiquitous today have not existed forever: Until the mid-20th century, most people in the United States could more affordably make clothing at home. Before new clothes were available for easy and inexpensive purchase, clothing was one of the most valuable assets that an American household owned: it was passed down through generations, and worn until it was unwearable. This is because the labor that was required to handspin, handweave and hand-sew garments (labor that was and still is mostly carried out by women, enslaved people, and low-wage workers) was so time intensive that each garment was precious. Even once it became unwearable, any still usable fabric was repurposed into quilts, rag rugs, and handmade paper. The invention of industrial textile devices in the late 19th and early 20th century such as the spinning jenny, the cotton gin, powerlooms, and the sewing machine vastly expedited the production of cloth and clothing. The first factory was a yarn spinning factory, which started the Industrial Revolution, forever changing the way all goods are produced (Sofi Thanhauser).

Before fast fashion, people had deep care and use relationships with each article of clothing they owned. They knew these garments and the labor that went into them well. Now, clothing is considered disposable and with the rise of mechanized textile production came the rapid decline in common knowledge of textile construction techniques. Beyond textile construction, there are also many layers of transit and presentation that bring an article of clothing to its eventual owner. The people and objects who carry out this labor remain anonymous to consumers today. By centering the form of the clothes rack in my work, I hope to help viewers direct their attention towards usually unseen parts of clothing production.

Textiles that are considered valuable antiques or still created as common hobbies such as quilts, coverlets, and rag rugs are still appreciated for their craftsmanship. In my work, I use these recognizable historical methods of transforming worn-out clothes alongside digital weaving and garment construction techniques. I fragment and reassemble articles of clothing, combining garments that would not typically be worn together. When clothing the racks, I consider the connotations and experiences garments I repurpose already hold, but am not obligated to them. Rather, I develop diverse ways for clothes to be worn. This renewal of discarded garments provides an alternative to where they would otherwise end up: in a landfill or the ocean, no longer useful but not going away either.


Falls, Susan, and Smith, Jessica R., author. Overshot: The Political Aesthetics of Woven Textiles from the Antebellum South and Beyond. 2020.

Salolainen, Maarit. Interwoven: Exploring Materials and Structures. Espoo, Finland, Aalto University Press, 2022.

Thanhauser, Sofi. Worn: A People’s History of Clothing. Pantheon, 2022.


This exhibition would not have been possible without the support of my thesis committee. Thank you Shawn Bitters, Poppy DeltaDawn, Rashawn Griffin, Steve Gurysh, and Mary Anne Jordan. Thank you Erick Morales-Scholz, Hadley Clark, HoYin Cho, and Cotter Mitchell for your technical support. Thank you to my textiles MFA cohort Becky Johnson, Karen Ondracek, and Sean Turner for your flexibility and support during the past few months. Thank you Sammie Jane Hardewig and Lisa Hamilton for your installation assistance.

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