Get inspired by Wearable Art theme and set designers

Kathy Kartchner models her piece, "Lady Blue," made with blue mussels collected from Southeast Alaskan beaches. Each shell was cleaned, dipped and drilled prior to being attached to the dress.

If you’ve been just as captivated by the themes and set design as the wearable art they showcase — you have Jeremy Bauer and Jason Clifton of Bauer Clifton Interiors to thank the past several years, along with Northwind Architects. This year’s theme is Organix — but don’t start picturing the inside of Rainbow Foods — think “organic + mechanics” the designers prompt.


“We both knew that we didn’t want a theme that was too literal. We decided that if we came up with the word itself then we could develop the meaning somewhat as well. The interesting thing is that the word and its meaning — organic + mechanics — really opened up the possibility for almost any design process to be within the meaning,” Clifton wrote in an email interview over the holidays. “Similar to the concept of organics, we wanted to incorporate basic and raw elements to create an atmosphere that truly highlights the artists’ creations and even provides insight into their own creative process in a nostalgic sort of way.”

Clifton and Bauer consider the set design to be their submission for the Wearable Art Extravaganza and Clifton wrote that “as we have improved … each year, it has naturally inspired the artists to improve and challenge themselves as well.”

While you may know the designers for their work on the set, you may also know them from their day job — interior design.

“(Wearable Art) allows us an escape from our current day-to-day design projects, with the freedom to experiment and push boundaries without the restrictions that are sometimes present in our other projects.  We also try to mix it up with a unique vibe and alternate focal points each year. We want people to walk away feeling inspired and amazed that a show and all of this talent is found right here in Juneau.”

Clifton listed a few ways that working on Wearable Art differs from their other projects, from how decisions are made to the constraints — or lack thereof — the designing duo face.

“The show allows for 100 percent freedom and combines it with really unique materials in interesting ways. Although our clients allow us all the freedom to suggest solutions for their projects, we are still restrained to providing a solution that is durable and will stand the test of time. Wearable arts can be completed … with only the expectation of lasting a few days.” Clifton said.

Other important elements to the Wearable Art ambience are the lighting and look of the MCs. Bauer and Clifton work with Dana Hernandez of Choco Boutique, who designs and constructs costumes consistent with the theme. Clifton also said the lighting, sound and video designers are “key to bringing the vision together” and they work with them all winter to develop the look.

“It is a huge effort with the talents of many people, who all volunteer their time to make this happen. We really enjoy working together and always look forward to that challenge.

Clifton has admitted that he and Bauer are already thinking about next year’s theme, but said, “It’s always important to fully focus on the current event at hand to ensure all runs well through to the end.”

He also offers a bit of advice to interested artists:

“Just do it! Don’t constrain your creative process and be as original as you possibly can. It’s also important to consider the performance aspect of the entry as well. While all forms of art are appreciated, the entries with an interesting background story, a surprise element or even a more theatrical statement often captivate the audience’s attention a bit more.”

Wearable Art applications are due Jan. 7. For more information, visit or email Kari Groven at  


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