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Maia Denzler 

Lead Textile Designer

I am a textile and theater artist based in the Portland metro area. I am an Honors graduate of Portland State University in Theater Arts (BA) and Music Composition (BM) and was a member of the Season 14 Apprentice Company at Portland Playhouse.

As a theater costume artist, I spend a lot of time thinking about telling stories through clothing. Costumes give people a chance to step into someone else’s shoes, experience a life different from their own, and tell the story of that life. However, with typical theatrical costuming there is always an element of concealment. There’s a hiding of the actor’s true self behind the costume, only showing the audience a finely curated version of the person so that they fit into the constraints of the story. We often do the same thing in our everyday lives. We choose to wear things that show us in the best light, make us fit in with the group, with society, with expectations. We put on the clothes of who we want to be seen as and rarely do we show the world who we really are.


The Born Project pushes back against this convention. Participants were able to design their own clothes, I then adapted existing sewing patterns to fulfill those visions and make the design a reality. Throughout the project, I worked closely with participants to build them an outfit that would allow them to show the world a more authentic version of themselves.


While the finished project you see today is a glowing testament to the beauty of the unveiled spirits of the participants, for me the most precious moments in this project were the tiny ones that were not caught on camera. A joyous self-hug as they saw themselves in the mirror, the giddy tempo of a voice full of excitement, the lifting of the head in confidence. The evidence of comfort in clothing that reflects who they are inside.

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