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Elaine M. Polvinen, M.F.A. Professor, Technology
An art gallery, a factory floor, and the front of a classroom are all second homes to Elaine Polvinen.
Polvinen, professor of technology in the fashion and textile technology program, showcased her artistic work last summer at the Museum of Arts & Crafts Itami gallery in Itami-shi, Hyogo, Japan. With silk as her canvas and Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator as her tools, she used flowers —hydrangeas, violets, birds of paradise—as the subject of her work and the focal point of her fabric designs.
However, don’t limit Polvinen to the gallery. The skills she imparts to her students include developing a commercial, market-savvy approach to fabric design. “One current trend,” she explained, “is creating a look that’s inspired by traditional ethnic designs. But the final product has to be done in colors that sell in the targeted marketplace.”
She encourages her students to think of themselves in relationship to the marketplace, too. She sends them to employers’ Web sites to see what jobs are available, and what skills are necessary to get them. “Then,” she tells her students, “match your skills to your dreams.”
That first job is, of course, just the beginning. Polvinen believes that it’s important to mentor students from learners to professionals—that is, to the kind of people who, once hired, can move forward quickly in their careers. “I want to help my students leave the nest,” she said, “without going ‘plop.’ I want them to be able to fly.”