Art Bra Features: Student Artists Shine!

In the six years of Art Bra® Austin’s run as BCRC’s signature fundraiser, local student artists have become an increasingly vital group of art bra contributors. Present and past Art Bra Artists have come out of the Avenue Five Institute, Austin School of Fashion Design, Austin’s Art Institute, and the University of Texas at Austin. Over the years, we have seen a marked increase in the quality of submissions for our show, and many of these students have been a driver of that success.

Today we’re focusing on the TEN art bras that have come out of the Textiles and Apparel Division at the University of Texas at Austin. We owe a HUGE thanks to one particular teacher, Luisa Gil Fandino, who took it upon herself to introduce the idea of designing an art bra as part of her class curriculum. For the past two years, BCRC has been invited by Luisa to present to her class of students about the opportunity to create and submit their Art Bra® designs to our juried competition. Thanks to Luisa’s commitment to community engagement and her dedication to connecting her students to the mission of BCRC and Art Bra® Austin, BCRC received over thirty submissions this year!! More than ever before!

The following students are giving our clients a moment to shine in the face of cancer – to feel vibrant and strong, perhaps for the first time in a long while. We are so grateful for their support and we’re delighted to share the stories behind their creative works of art.

Ahmed Beniaqbah
“The Illustrious”

Ahmed is 24 years old, originally from Iraq, and majors in Textiles and Apparel Design at UT Austin. He loves art, especially painting and photographer, loves to travel and learn new languages, and volunteers at Caritas of Austin helping refugees. When designing his art bra, Ahmed felt inspired by Middle Eastern culture and belly dance clothes, and the combination between Eastern and Western cultures. “The Illustrious” is completely hand-sewn and made from satin fabric, sequins, pearls, and gold chains. The final look without a doubt lives up to its name – distinguished and worth noting. noteworthy well known, respected, and admired for past achievements.

Alexandra (Lexi) Hill

Lexi is no stranger to Art Bra® Austin. This will be the third time she’s submitted an art bra for the show. Lexi is 22 years old and a fourth-year Textiles & Apparel Design student at UT Austin. She also currently works at LOFT and is a blogging intern for VOLUP2 magazine. When asked why she decided to participate in Art Bra Austin, Lexi said, “When I first decided to participate in Art Bra Austin in 2015, I did so because it seemed like the perfect way to use my talents and interests to help an amazing cause that is important to me. Now, having participated twice before, I’ve seen what a beautiful production Art Bra Austin is and want to continue to be a part of this celebration of strong women.”

“Thrive” is inspired by succulents – these beautiful plants grow, flourish, and thrive in the midst of the harshest weather conditions, and are symbolic of the strength and perseverance of breast cancer survivors. The succulents are all hand-cut from felt. Each color has a different shape, and each succulent has several folded layers. Lexi also painted the image of succulents on the band of the bra. “Thrive” was created in honor of Lexi’s grandmother and her boyfriend’s mother –both breast cancer survivors. “Their strength will never cease to amaze me and my art bra is created with them in mind.”

Carlie Roberson
“Blossom Basket”

Carlie is currently a sophomore at UT Austin studying Textile and Apparel Design. This is Carlie’s first time submitting an art bra to the show – we are thrilled to unveil it on the runway as part of our “Street Fashion” collection.

Donna Silverio

Originally from the Philippines, Donna moved to Texas when she was 10 years old. She is currently studying Textiles and Apparel at the University of Texas at Austin and says she is hungry for knowledge. Donna loves fashion – the texture of fabrics, the details, the design, and quite simply everything about fashion has captured her attention “It’s a big industry,” she says, and she wants to be a part of it. Donna was also extremely moved and inspired by the cause of Art Bra Austin and wanted to ensure she would create something beautiful for the event. And that she did.

Although the original inspiration for “Gypsy” was the night sky, Donna said that changed as she got further into her process…“The more I worked on my art bra, I saw an image of a gypsy – a free spirited woman. Thinking of gypsies, I was reminded of Esmeralda from Disney’s adaptation of The Hunchback of Notre-Dame. She became my muse because of how beautiful she was not only on the outside, but also on the inside for her kind heart. I understand breast cancer survivors have the struggle of reconstructive surgery, so I wanted to make this as beautiful as I could for the women out there who may be insecure after going through the battle of breast cancer.”

We believed Donna accomplished her goal and we were touched by her empathy. “Gypsy” is completely hand-sewn and made from blue satin fabric; purple, dark blue, and gold velvet trim; and a beautiful assortment of beads and diamond-shaped gems.

Fiona Mason; Marisa Garcia
“Blooming from the Dark”

These former students and close friends may no longer be studying at UT, but the skills they learned were definitely put to the test while designing “Blooming from the Dark.” Fiona grew up on the beaches of California. As a kid, she was enrolled in n local art studio, where she got her real first taste of all she could do as an artist. Marisa grew up in San Antonio and says art and sports were always her strengths growing up. After completing two years of pre-med studies at UT, she decided to follow her passions and change her major. She’s since graduated from UT with a Textiles and Apparel design degree, and learned to pick up skateboarding along the way.

“Blooming from the Dark” is a beautiful collaboration between the two friends – Fiona focused on constructing the flowers, while Maris worked on the fabric monster using skills in pattern making and sewing. Their inspiration behind their design is powerful and best explained by Fiona and Marisa – “There is a lot of dark sides of cancer and not all will be positive. So while it’s important to know that anyone who has (or had) cancer will carry that burden for the rest of their lives, it’s also important to help those people find the best parts of their life and to grow from their experience. The monster wrapping around your shoulders is that darkness or burden, while the flowers on the breast represent the beautiful life ahead overcoming the past darkness.” Well said, ladies.

Georgia Wahl
“Hands Off My Succulents!”

Georgia is a sophomore from Houston, Texas, and a Textiles and Apparel Design major at the UT Austin. After creating her art bra as part of her lab final for her textiles class, Georgia says she ended up being very proud of the outcome and extremely glad this was one of their assignments. “Hands Off My Succulents!” is a beautiful example of hand-embroidery at its finest, and was created in honor of Rose Schwartzel, a breast cancer survivor.

When asked what inspired her design, Georgia replied, “I was inspired by the embroidery examples we looked at in class and that I found on Pinterest, which are usually of flowers and or other nature. I wanted to choose a theme everyone could connect with, living in the southwest. Breast cancer survivors are beautiful women who refused to let cancer take them down. Likewise, cacti are beautiful and send a powerful message of not to be messed with, hence the title, “Hands Off my Succulents!” This is the message I wanted to get across on my bra – the idea of being beautiful, fierce survivors in the toughest conditions.”  Well, one thing is for sure: this art bra is FIERCELY beautiful!

Hanna Oliver
“Gently Falling”

Hanna is a student at UT Austin and was glad to have the chance to create an art bra during her textiles lab last semester – especially as the cause hit close to home. Hanna’s mother had breast cancer when Hanna was young, and this was an opportunity for her to give back through a medium that she has her mom to thank for loving. Hanna’s mom started teaching her how to sew when she was just eight years old, and she’s loved it ever since.
When designing “Gently Falling,” Hanna drew inspiration from the lace that her mother had left over after making a wedding dress. She deconstructed the base of the bra, and used satin, lace appliques, and ribbon to create a classically beautiful art bra.

Mia Barrera
“Gypsy Warrior”

Mia BarreraMia Barrera is a college sophomore at the University of Texas at Austin. She is a self-taught seamstress and has been doing costuming work for about five years. “It became a passion of mine in high school and I love to sew, but I am still learning the bells and whistles of it all.” New to Austin, this is her first submission to Art Bra. “I think the show is an incredible way to fundraise and bring awareness to breast cancer in a colorful and creative way. It also gives designers a chance to design for a good cause.” When Mia is not costuming, she likes to spend her time watching movies, musicals, and other theatre performances. She also enjoys writing fictional stories and scripts with her friends.

“Gypsy Warrior” is a vibrant piece, draped with a shibori dyed fabric and decorated with gold beading, decorative trim, and gold plated coins. The artist drew her inspiration from the free-spirited styles of a belly dancer, meshing colors of purple and blue, to make an art bra that is sure to shimmer and shake on Art Bra® Austin’s Floor Show. The art bra was created in honor of the artist’s mother. Mia tell us, “I created this in honor of my mom who is the strongest, smartest, and most hard working woman I know.”

Michell Kerbow
“Guerilla Gear”

Michell is currently a student at the University of Texas at Austin.

Rawan Al-qarqaz
“A Whole New World”

Rawan is a junior currently attending the UT at Austin, majoring in Textile and Apparel Design with a minor in Business Foundations. When she’s not busy with school, Rawan enjoys spending her days with fun, creative art projects or exploring the city and discovering new places.

“A Whole New World” is hand-embroidered and made from three different types of fabrics, sequins, gold trim, gold chains, and a jewel for the center piece. Rawan felt inspired to create an art bra that would be worthy of a princess – specifically, Princess Jasmine, in the Disney film, “Aladdin.” In her own words, Rawan explains, “”A Whole New World” represents a new found perspective on life after an emotionally riveting journey, similar to the one experienced by the courageous women that survived breast cancer. Breast reconstruction surgery can help restore faith and strength in women, opening their eyes to a new outlook on life after everything they have gone through, helping them see that it’s “A Whole New World”.”

Art Bra® Austin will take place on June 3, at the Austin Convention Center, 500 E Cesar Chavez St., Austin, Texas. Doors open at 6:00 p.m. for cocktails, food service and silent auction, followed by the runway show and live auction at 8:00 p.m. General Admission tickets are currently on sale for $200 and reserved-seating floor and runway tickets are available for $250. Tickets are available at


Art Bra® Austin, now in its sixth year, is BCRC’s signature fundraiser. Every year, Austin’s talented community of artists, designers, and jewelers submit their original works of wearable art to be showcased by a dynamic group of Art Bra Austin models, creating an enchanting evening where everyone involved from the artists to the models and stylists donates their time and services. Approximately 60 to 70 pieces are selected from over 100 submissions to be offered for auction the night of the event. Top submissions are auctioned live during the runway show with winning bids as high as $8,500. For more information about this event and how to get involved, please visit


Breast Cancer Resource Center (BCRC) is a nonprofit organization providing guidance, education, and assistance to thousands of local women whose lives have been disrupted by breast cancer. Staffed by breast cancer survivors, BCRC helps each woman find her footing and determine the solution

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