Monthly Archives: April 2015

HOW MEMORIES BECAME FICTION FOR HELENA MARIA VIRAMONTES

FIT being a school of art and design, business and technology, some people don’t realize that high-caliber novelists often visit.

Mostly recently, FIT hosted Helena Maria Viramontes, author of The Moths and Other StoriesUnder the Feet of Jesus, and Their Dogs Came With Them, and chair of the creative writing MFA program at Cornell University. Her most famous story, The Moths, about a teenager’s relationship with her dying grandmother, has been anthologized hundreds of times.

The talk, sponsored by FIT Words, the college’s creative writing club, was called “Writing Your Truth in Fiction,” and Viramontes spoke about how her upbringing as a Chicana (the identity of many Mexican-Americans) in Los Angeles influenced her writing.

We were struck by some of her early inspirations, fragments of her childhood that she alchemized into literary gold.

New roads: “The freeways started in 1959 and finished in 1970. Much of my upbringing was about seeing the destruction of our community.”

The encyclopedia: “Growing up, we had a World Book encyclopedia, but we weren’t allowed to touch it. I’d pick up a volume and run to the bathroom to read it. Whenever I opened a book, it was with a sincere and profound faith that it would inform my life.”

The Bible: “I’d read the parables and stories and recite them to my younger brothers and sisters.”

James Joyce: “With The Moths, I wanted to do a Joycean Dubliners for East L.A.”

Her family: “My first short story began with my mother and my father. I wanted people to know us. I realized I was writing not about my family but a community.”

Hue Too readers, what traces of your childhood inspire you today?

WHERE DO YOUR CLOTHES COME FROM?

Hue has long been an advocate for caring about the afterlife of our possessions. But after an enlightening conference created by FIT’s Department of International Trade and Marketing for the Fashion Industries, we’re also learning to engage with where our clothes and other products come from.

The first Sustainable Global Sourcing Forum brought together more than 25 experts in the field to talk about topics ranging from sustainable sourcing in the cosmetics and fragrance industry to sustainability programs at workplaces to engage employees.

Hue was particularly excited to see a panel of International Trade and Marketing alumni addressing issues in the field.

Andrea Reyes, MPS ’12, BS ’09, cofounded A. Bernadette, a fashion company that contracts with women artisans in Uganda to make accessories out of plastic packing straps, discarded neckties, and other raw materials that might otherwise end up in landfills.

Joanne Krakowski '07; Sophie Miyashiro '14, U.S. customs broker; Christine Pomeranz, chair of International Trade and Marketing; Shireen Musa, assistant professor; Elizabeth Pulos '14; Sabrina Caruso '13, Henri Daussi Jewelry; and Andrea Reyes MPS '12, BS '09, A. Bernadette.

Joanne Krakowski ’07; Sophie Miyashiro ’14, U.S. customs broker; Christine Pomeranz, chair of International Trade and Marketing; Shireen Musa, assistant professor; Elizabeth Pulos ’14, Sheer & Co.; Sabrina Caruso ’13, Henri Daussi Jewelry; and Andrea Reyes MPS ’12, BS ’09, A. Bernadette.

“Americans have a negative view of outsourcing,” said Joanne Krakowski ’07, a textile and apparel consultant. “But many people in the world have nothing, and outsourcing is giving them a livelihood and a trade,” she said. “I want to change the world from a global standpoint, helping people in other countries too.”

Learning about sustainably sourced sweaters in between sessions.

Learning about sustainably sourced sweaters in between sessions.

Overall, the conference was a good reminder that sustainability should be at the center of business decisions, not just pulled up when it’s convenient.

“Historically, people lived this way until very recently,” said Elizabeth Pulos ’14, cofounder of Sheer, a social enterprise devoted to making transparent where our textiles and apparel come from. “The crazy thing is, people think sustainability is a new thing.”