Persona Workings

In college I was introduced to idea of persona work by a very interesting performance art teacher.  Performance art is an entirely different thing from performing arts. The latter includes ballet, theater, dance, acting, etc.  The former term encompasses any time-based, 4th dimensional art project.

One of my early performance pieces was about fresh starts, on one level of analysis.  I was in the process of learning pattern drafting from a book.  Pattern drafting is a rather geometric pursuit-  it’s a pure and theoretical approach to creating  clothing patterns.  One starts with a series of measurements (some body circumferences and lengths) and then uses some best practices for ease. From there, on paper with rulers, you draft a basic pattern of the simplest types of garment possible.

The idea is to create an accurate, well-fitting, and extremely simple pattern from which all other basic patterns can be developed.  They will fit, because the original fits.  It’s groundtruthed.

Thus, there are a few simple basics to start with- a shift dress with long sleeves (fitted, darts) and a pant (fitted, darts.)

By assuring that the garment fits very well at all the critical points (armhole, waist, seat, etc.) one has developed a pure form from which more complicated and interesting garments can be drafted.

Back to the performance piece:  at that time I had very red hair, which was long and I typically wore in a bun.  I had made one of these very simple muslin shift dresses from a newly drafted pattern, and was wearing it in front of an ironing board.  On the ironing board, rather than using an iron, I was carefully applying gesso to some pieces of cinnamon raisin bread.  Thus, I was wearing a white muslin draft of a dress.  The ironing board was covered in white fabric as well.  And the gesso, typically the first layer of any painting, was in the process of covering up the cinnamon colored bread.


Persona work can be a tactic for working towards and understanding goals.  Persona development is much like trying on a wardrobe of some future version of yourself, or some alternate version of yourself. It is a way to slip in and out of perspective.

Because wardrobe is one of my favored art mediums, when I think about developing new trajectories in life, I like to think about it in terms of what to wear. What is it that that future hypothetical version of myself would wear?

Then, making or acquiring some tactile, material, grounded, real objects that represent that future trajectory, and using them as wayfinders.

How have you used persona development in your creative process?




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