My name is Tara Halsted, and I am a first-year MBA student at UC San Diego. I recently graduated from UC Davis with an MFA in Design. I went to Stanford for undergraduate, where I majored in Art Practice and swam on the Stanford Women's swim team.
I grew up in Davis, California, and I have been swimming since age five. I love incorporating themes of swimming into my art and design projects. As an undergraduate, I focused on breadth and learned drawing, painting, sculpture, photography, and mixed media. Many of my projects included swimmers, water, and reflections. In graduate school, I focused on functional apparel design, but also took a range of classes including human-centered design, typography, and textile design.
Several of my recent projects address swimming-related issues that I have personally experienced. For my thesis project, I designed a swimming training garment for competitive swimmers that uses design features to address risk factors of common swimming-related injuries (patent pending). I went through several iterations and modified the garment many times based on in-water testing and feedback from swimmers.
Swimmers often have trouble finding clothing that fits properly due to their wide shoulders and muscular frame, so I designed "Breathing Room", a fashion collection made specifically to fit the body proportions of female swimmers. For the "Breathing Room" collection, I started by designing formal gowns for swimmers to model in a fashion show (show was cancelled due to COVID), then expanded the collection to include business apparel and casual, beach-inspired activewear. I drafted all original patterns based on measurements of female swimmers. My color palette consists of mainly blue fabrics inspired by the colors and reflective surface quality of water. I am continuing to expand my collection by adding new designs.
Swimmers try to stay warm and dry between races at swim meets, so I made multiple swimming parkas with novel features for keeping swimmers warm and dry. For example, one parka has an expandable section at the bottom that can be cinched to make a cozy cocoon while resting. Protected air spaces help keep the wearer warm, which is especially useful at a cold swim meet. Parkas can be annoying because warm fabrics such as fleece are often not absorbent, and they get very itchy when wet. I made a parka that has towels that can be snapped inside. The towels are 100% cotton and are very absorbent, so they are used to dry off the swimmer and can be removed once the swimmer is fully dry. This functional parka keeps the swimmer both warm and dry. Another parka has mesh drip pockets on the outside for wet accessories such as caps and goggles, and warm fleece pockets on the inside for keeping hands warm.
Swimsuits made from 100% polyester last for a long time, but the seams and elastic wear out much faster than the swimsuit material. I cut up the material from old suits with worn-out elastic, and reused it to sew suits with new elastic.
ARTIST STATEMENT (6/2017, B.A. Art Practice, Stanford):
Due to its physical nature, water has the ability to reflect its surroundings through distortions. Through my art, I reflect my environment through the lens of my perspective. Reflective surfaces such as water question the representation of spaces by blending the surface reflection with the environment below. I aim to depict the feeling of existing in an underwater environment, submerged in an underwater world. I use drawing as a camera, to record details of my surroundings and give permanence to a moment by immortalizing an image. Starting with photography, I translate images into drawings and paintings.