the same 5 questions we always ask

Introduce yourself. How old are you and where are you from?

I'm Emily Wilkens. I'm 24, and I grew up in Spokane, WA.

How would you describe the work you do? And what inspires you to make this type or art?

I reconstruct clothing. I take used clothing from thrift stores and give them new life by cutting them up and incorporating new fabrics and colors. So many people and companies disregard perfectly good clothing all the time. I try to take a practical and resourceful approach to fashion.

What are your plans for the future and where do you hope your art will take you?

I have spent awhile in Chad, Africa working in the hospital, which has been a life changing experience for me. Making and selling my shirts online was the way I was able to fundraise for my plane ticket over there. Over the summer I began sewing, and last September, I put about 80 shirts online. I sold all of the shirts in a little over a week, and was able to raise about $3,000 for my ticket.

As far as the future of my art, although I would love to launch my own t-shirt company, I don't quite know if I could exactly make a full career out of it. But I do hope and plan on creating more shirts, and continuing this process in small sustainable ways.

Music goes hand in hand with current culture and the art scene. What are you listening to lately while you work?

Jon Foreman and Switchfoot. Jon is a powerful song writer, and so many of his songs got me through the hard parts of my experience in Africa.

Who or what are you influences? And what other artists on the scene are currently catching your eye?

My mom wouldn't always buy me new clothes when I was younger, but she did tell me she would always buy me whatever fabric I wanted, so I could make my own. So that got me sewing at a pretty young age.

Also, the style of my work is heavily influenced by the culture of Africa. Once, I got sent a bucket of bright yellow paint, and the family that I lived with loved it so much, they painted my front door with it. Africa's appreciation for color and vibrancy has definitely influenced my boldness and use of color.

For more on Emily Wilkens, visit http://liberationjoy.blogspot.com.