Seton Hill Students Show Art As Fashion at Westmoreland Museum Event

Art was transformed into fashion by a group of 21 Seton Hill students in May at the Art as Fashion event held by The Westmoreland Museum of American Art in Greensburg.

Seton Hill theatre instructor and costume designer Sue O’Neill challenged the students in her two Spring 2019 costume design classes to a semester-long project that culminated at the Westmoreland event. 

There, they got to meet keynote speaker Clyde B. Jones III, Senior Vice President for Institutional Advancement at The Metropolitan Museum in New York, who is responsible for planning the famous Met Gala each year. 

O’Neill and her students visited the Museum early in the spring semester to gather inspiration for their project. Each student was assigned a different piece in The Westmoreland’s Collection that they had to bring to life as fashion. Students working at sewing machines

Each were to design and produce a garment and a hat that they then had the opportunity to model for Clyde Jones and the guests at the museum’s event. 

“They learned along the way the basics of sewing and creating the garment,” O’Neill said. “Some of them were wilder than others and some of them I had to push because they were being too conservative.”

O’Neill said the invitation from the Museum for her students to participate brings the real world into the classroom. 

“So much of what I get to teach them is theoretical,” she said. “For this to be a realized design it was as if we were doing our own fashion show. The students were able to see how they would take what they learn in my classroom as if they were doing it for a job.”

She added, “The Museum is a wonderful partner to have in our community. They come up with ideas and I say yes. There are so many possibilities in working with The Westmoreland and having them in Greensburg is invaluable as a teaching tool.” 

Seton Hill alumna Sally Anne Novak ’81, who served as co-chair of the event, said, “I love having the opportunity to showcase the work of Seton Hill students. To see their enthusiasm and excitement to be a part of this event was very exciting for all of us at The Westmoreland.” 

Photo, top: Seton Hill students gather with Clyde B. Jones III, Senior Vice President for Institutional Advancement at The Metropolitan Museum in New York, at the Art as Fashion event. 

Photo, right: Seton Hill dance student Angela Emanuele and other students sew their pieces for the Art as Fashion event. 

This article originally appeared in the Fall/Winter 2019 issue of Forward magazine.