Student of the Month: Jack Burns

by Stephanie Kraeutler, Fashion Publishing

jack 1Jack Burns enters Starbucks carrying a huge bolt of pricey merino wool felt.  I later learn it will be laser cut for his senior thesis with little to no waste.  His hands are stained from fabric dyeing in his textile class.  At  first glance, his clear dedication already justifies his nomination for the recognition of Parsons Student of the Month.  Yet, this honor isn’t Jack’s first.  In 2004, Jack won the Santa Fe Design Week Scholarship, setting him on his path to Parsons.  This past March, he was the costumer on the winning team of Reconstruction 3.0, which brought together designers from Parsons, musicians from the New School Jazz Department, and dancers from the Joffrey Ballet to honor Louis Vuitton’s travel traditions.  Most recently, Jack was nominated for the Windgate Fellowship, dedicated to celebrating innovation in craft by supporting non-institutional education.  Should he win, he will travel to Iceland, Morocco and India to study the processing of wool, tapestry weaving, and surface treatments, respectively.

Despite his individual accolades, Jack values the collaborative experience he’s grown to appreciate at Parsons.  “Everybody thinks differently, and if you have these multiple minds working on something, collaboration breeds one of the truest senses of originality.”  Approaching design from the goal of zero waste consistently informs his fashion philosophy, from textile design to his application for the Windgate Fellowship.  Jack believes that “design should be entered from a more holistic perspective.” What are we creating for our world beyond the clothing?  He proposes that “used” garments be returned to the manufacturer for recycling, the way computers are broken down for their parts when they become outdated.  Jack is now focused on the creation of textiles, where his background in metalwork and glass blowing add to his aesthetic.  He sees the need to “take a craft and augment it and make it current.”   For him, “textiles are where it begins.”

Jack would encourage us not to think of fashion superficially, or solely as a means of self-expression.  He is asking himself and others, “How do you create something?  What does it say to the world?  And, what are you contributing?”  He perfectly exemplifies the type of student Parsons is known worldwide for developing.  He makes me proud to be a student at Parsons.  Jack Burns is not only Student of the Month; he’s a name to remember.

Check out Jack’s new Kickstarter Campaign, which is supporting his BFA thesis. Click here.