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..Wearable Art with a Social Mission..

Emily Swietlik, Director + Designer 

My life has been defined by leaps of faith.

In high school I was fortunate to go on a service trip to Mali, West Africa, where we build a schoolhouse in a remote village. It was my first time leaving the United States, and the experience flipped my world upside down. Life in the village was pretty much the opposite of what I had expected, and it radically redefined my definitions of wealth and poverty. I fell in love with a poor village that was rich in community, dance, and culture. The experience sparked a lifelong drive to explore new environments, make my own opinions about the world, and work to break down cultural barriers.

That led me to New Orleans in 2008, three years after Katrina, to study Cultural Anthropology and International Development. My academic interest was always focused on art expressions around the world and how artisans could make a living. I went back to West Africa for an arts immersion study abroad program in Senegal where I studied textile art and how it can create jobs.

My job is to create. Create connections, create opportunities, create art.

While I was first an Anthropologist, New Orleans made me an artist. My connection to a local Mardi Gras Indian Chief reinvigorated my interest in hand-sewing and strengthened my passion for creating jobs in wearable art. I recognized the uniqueness of the NOLA/USA wearable art economies and how I could leverage this economic privilege for communities at home and abroad.

We create #artWORK. We call it #empowARTment.

My studio mission is to empower communities around the world through art. One of the ways we do so is by creating jobs that pay an empowering wage in communities that lack access.