Award: Research & Development Grant

Discipline: Visual Arts

Project Collaborator(s): Kristen Dacey Iwai / KDI Photography, photographer 

City/Town: Flagstaff

Year: 2019

Artist Website:

I was taught to use a sewing machine when I was four years old, then
sewed garments for myself in high school and college, and later for my
husband and sons. Combining my printmaking skills, my burgeoning
surface pattern design skills, my dressmaking skills, and my research
and journalism skills with my passion for women’s rights is the
obvious next step for me.

Excerpt from Darcy Falk’s R&D Grant application

In Conversation Prints, Darcy Falk will design and screen-print fabrics which she will then use to sew custom garments, one for each of five model-participants. The printed fabrics will feature birth control motifs in vintage-inspired designs, while the garments will be fashioned from vintage sewing patterns. During intimate, collaborative fitting sessions, Falk will initiate and document conversations about her models’ reproductive histories and beliefs. Each person will then be photographed wearing their garment. The garments, photographs, and statements (developed from the conversations) will be exhibited in a variety of public settings to spark dialog about reproductive freedoms.

‘Conversation print’ is the fabric industry term for prints that feature motifs other than floral or geometric designs: wheelbarrows or golf clubs, for example. The double entendre of the title is intentional: with this project Falk aims to engage people who might otherwise shy away from controversy, enticing them to engage in conversation about topics related to reproductive healthcare.

Kevlar® Kimono, 2014

84″ h x 84″ w x 24″d
Silk, Kevlar, steel

The silk kimono was sewn from hand-dyed fabric, using an antique kimono for a pattern. The undergarment was created from bulletproof fabric purchased for this project in the late 1990s. Over 300 unique collages were stitched to the front and back of a hand-dyed
silk organza overpanel.

Kevlar® Kimono, detail

Image included to show detail of the postage-stamp sized photos and collages made for each of the over 300 people who affirmed their belief in reproductive choice. The shades of grey in each collage
represent the nuances of each person’s history, situation and beliefs about the topic.

Darcy Falk’s mastery of fabric and thread impels her to create artworks from textiles using a variety of techniques, including a full range of surface design processes. The primary focus of her artwork since 2012 has been on so-called women’s issues; the Kevlar Kimono, a 7-foot tall metaphorical safe space for navigating reproductive decision-making for both women and men was completed in 2014.

Since 1987, Falk’s work has been included in juried and invitational exhibits all over the U.S., internationally and extensively throughout the state of Arizona. Her visual work and writings are also informed by her study of journalism and political science. She holds B.A. degrees in both disciplines from Ball State University.

Her 2018 exhibit, Ultraviolet, textile artworks revealing women’s issues, featured artworks with messages about women’s voices and stories screen-printed with ultraviolet-light -sensitive paint. Her newest project, Conversation Prints/The Dress Project – an extension of that work – is a deeper exploration of how and why we make decisions about our reproductive lives, and is designed to stimulate discussion about reproductive freedom and healthcare.

Photo of artist by Fran Meneley

Banner Image: Photo of artist by Kristen Dacey Iwai / KDI Photography