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Behind the Scenes in Conservation: Meet Phoenix Brown

by Conservation


behind the scenes , conservation , textile conservation , Sowell Internship , Fashion Arts & Textiles

Phoenix Brown working on shoes


My name is Phoenix Brown, and I’m a rising fine arts junior at the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design. I’m an intern in the paper and textiles conservation labs, and the 2017 Sowell Internship recipient. This summer, I’ve been working in the textiles lab where I assist in the museum’s ongoing commitment to house and preserve its fashion acquisitions.

Lately, I’ve been creating custom storage mounts for shoes and antique hats. The purpose of the mounts are to protect the pieces from excessive handling and to organize the collection. It’s fun to be able to make my own artistic decisions when sculpting one-of-a-kind mounts for individual pieces; no two mounts are alike. It’s also exciting to handle and examine all of the pieces on an intimate level.

My favorite pieces to work with are recent shoe acquisitions from the Japanese fashion label Comme des Garçons. The designs I’m mounting are colorful, daring, and very bold. They would make a wonderful addition to any fashionista’s collection, including myself!

My summer at CAM is a valuable experience that I will carry with me for the rest of my creative career. Even if I’m just passing through the museum’s storage levels in the building, it’s a special experience to witness fashion and textiles in a resting state before being shown on the museum floor.

Knowing that my efforts are contributing towards a greater cause, as large as the museum’s, is extraordinary.


Image Credit: Blouse, Skirt, Shoes, and Socks, Rei Kawakubo (Japanese, b. 1942) designer; Comme des Garçons (Japanese, estab. 1969) label, polyester, leather, metal, Museum Purchase: Lawrence Archer Wachs Trust Fund, 2016.232c-d.