As a fiber and performance artist, University of Maryland alum and art professor Charlotte Richardson-Deppe never uses new materials for her art — she creates pieces from thrifted and recycled textiles.   

“There is so much that exists in the world, and why would I make something new when I can reform what there already is,” Richardson-Deppe said. 

On Tuesday night, she brought her creative process to Student Entertainment Events’ sustainable fashion workshop, where Richardson-Deppe taught students to mend and reuse their current clothes and materials

Richardson-Deppe gave students a presentation on mending, showing how she finds ways to make her own mending creative. Afterward, students had the chance to sew on their own or learn from the professor as a beginner. 

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“I just want to empower people to care for what they already have and think creatively and sustainably about what they own,” Richardson-Deppe said. 

Last month, SEE had a similar event centered around zine making. Both workshops focused on creative ways to recycle and repurpose materials.

Richardson-Deppe’s work specifically focuses on visible mending, as she feels reusing and fixing what we own is something to celebrate. In her presentation, she showcased many different ways of sewing clothing.

SEE did not buy anything new in order to host either event, according to performing arts director Maggie Letvin.  Both workshops were meant to show students they can create using resources they already have before resorting to buying new materials.

Letvin said while planning the event, it was important for SEE to collaborate with people in the community, which is why working with Richardson-Deppe was important

Society focuses too much on buying new things, Richardson-Deppe said. In teaching workshops like these, she hopes to inspire more mutual care in our communities.

“I think there definitely does need to be a push in understanding that fast fashion, though it can be helpful at times, it ultimately does more harm than good,” freshman environmental science and policy major Jade Blackmoore said. 

Over the past few years, Blackmoore feels trends have come in and out of style much quicker than they used to.

She thinks events like the sustainability workshop are important on campus, but they need to be at a time reasonable to students. The workshop took place at 7 p.m. on Tuesday. Students may not always realize events like this are available to them, Blackmoore said.

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Teaching college students to mend their own clothing is a way Richardson-Deppe said she can start better habits within her own community. She believes there is a lot of power in taking responsibility for our own consumption patterns

Having hands-on experiences like workshops is more effective for students as well, Richardson-Deppe said. 

“The world needs more hands-on things, and I think physically practicing something is incredibly meaningful,” Richardson-Deppe said. “There’s something incredibly empowering about feeling like we can do something, especially in community.”

Letvin also believes starting small is an important aspect in creating change. Reaching out to people close to you, such as neighbors or friends, is super valuable, they said. 

“The biggest changes start from the smallest places,” Letvin said. 

CORRECTION: Due to an editing error, a previous version of this story used the incorrect pronouns for Jade Blackmoore. Blackmoore uses she/her pronouns. This story has been updated.