Chen’s collection is on display at the George Fry Gallery as part of Re/Collection: the 2021 Fashion Design Studio Exhibition.
The New Brunswick College of Craft and Design has named emerging fashion designer Echo Jing Chen as the 2020 recipient of the NBCCD Acquisition Award. The news was announced at the opening of Re/Collection: the 2021 Fashion Design Studio Exhibition now on display at the George Fry Gallery.
“The award means a lot to me. I am far away from home and sometimes feel lonely, but NBCCD gave me a new home, opened up my artistic vision and the world of fashion design,” said Chen. “This award gave me great recognition and honour, and made me feel warm and loved. I am so proud to be a member of NBCCD.”
Chen’s collection, Forbidden City, includes six outfits inspired by the Imperial Palace of China and expresses the artist’s concern for the “undemocratic society and the environmental pollution that affects all members in China, regardless of gender, age, or status.”
Chen began working on this collection in February of 2020, just weeks before the province went into a complete lockdown. As it became apparent NBCCD, along with every other school in the province, would be transitioning to a distanced learning model that would involve working from home, students were given one day to collect the materials they needed before access to the school’s studios ended. As a result, much of the entire collection was crafted and completed at home on her dining room table.
“The main challenge during the lockdown was the lack of access to instructors or limited access via Zoom,” said Chen. “When we’re working in the studio, the instructors are always right there so you can ask questions anytime and they can see what you are doing and direct you.
“During the lockdown, I lived alone, and I hadn’t even adopted my cats,” she said. “I had to overcome some difficulties to complete my work, but the collection gave me a lot of motivation to start the day. Looking back, I want to say amazing things can happen in a dark time.”
The NBCCD Acquisition Award includes a $1000 prize and will see one of the artist’s pieces added to the school’s permanent collection.
Chen’s work will be on display at the George Fry Gallery along with work by eight other students until the end of the month. The complete collection can be viewed online.
All photos by Christophe Basque.