Public Lecture by visiting artist Lucy McRae

Lucy McRae

Lucy McRae

Jake Green

Electronic tattoos. Swallowable perfume. A dress that can sense and react to the wearer’s emotions. These different, and almost unbelievable, ideas have one thing in common: their creator, “body architect” Lucy McRae.

Over 100 people attended McRae’s public lecture, as part of the Thomas Schroth Visiting Artist Series, Thursday evening in the Rockwell Auditorium.

“We’re really pleased to be able to bring in folks like this as part of the lecture series,” said Fashion School director J.R. Campbell. “Lucy’s work has a very interesting dialogue that has a direct impact on fashion as a concept.”

To start her talk, McRae posed the question “How on earth did I become a ‘body architect’?” Throughout the lecture, she walked the audience through her life and career as a way of answering her inquiry.

McRae said she started her life with formal ballet training, eventually moved into interior design and finally landed as a “body architect.”

“By creating the term, which has no preconceptions or expectations, I’m able to do exactly what I want to do,” McRae said. “This label allows me to be flexible.”

McRae has produced music videos, performance art, sculpture and technology, but considers herself a hybrid.

“I am a jack of all trades,” she said. “I’ve acquired skills when I needed them. I’m definitely still learning.”

More recently, McRae said she has been using technology, art and the body to tell stories. She calls one such endeavor “Swallowable Perfume,” which is a literal pill that the user would swallow, changing his or her physiology, to sweat a new odor or color.

“I create these parallel universes by playing, and it makes me really happy,” she said. “By creating fantasy worlds and telling these stories, people really believe what you’re doing.”

Another recent project, “Make Your Maker,” which McRae showed the audience, is a short film where a woman consumes edible clones of her own body, examining the idea that “food and the body are inseparable.”

Junior fashion design major Michael Phillips said he could tell from “Make Your Maker” that he thinks like McRae.

“There were definitely links to fashion,” he said. “I saw comments about society and how we look at ourselves, fixating on our flaws.”

McRae, who has been working with art and fashion students during her week long stay in Kent, believes that human flaws can lead to great ideas.

“Projects that are failing are stepping stones to something you tripped over,” she said. “You didn’t really see that you were going to find that. It’s the whole idea of risk.”

McRae’s work has been featured in numerous famous ways including fashion design for Vogue, a concept for Robyn’s “Indestructible” music video, and her own TEDTalk. Check out her website for more:

Contact Jake Green at [email protected].