Student creations: From pop cans to the Queen of Hearts

Geometry class comes up with its own pieces for this year's Wearable Art show

Posted: Thursday, February 12, 2004

Editor's note: This is the third in a four-part series looking ahead to the wearable art show. The show, the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council's main fund-raiser, is open to artists of all media. Tickets are available at Hearthside Books, Rainy Day Books, the Observatory, or at the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council's offices. Tickets are expected to sell out. Call 586-ARTS or visit for more information.

For Juneau-Douglas High School geometry teacher Mary-Lou Gervais, the annual wearable art show is a rite of passage to spring.

"It gets me through January and February," she said.

For a team of students in each of her three classes, it's turned out to be a lesson in geometry. Gervais challenged each class to come up with a mathematically inspired idea for the show. She evaluated the ideas on content, feasibility and geometric application. Then she let the classes decide which projects to construct.

This year's show, "Rampaging Imagination: the Fourth Annual Wearable Art Extravaganza," will be at 6:30 and 9:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 20, at ANB Hall.

Here are the students' stories:

• AMERICAN WOMAN: Tess Staton, from Gervais' third-period class, came up with the idea of creating a pop-can dress in the colors of the American flag. As of Tuesday, the skirt was almost finished. It included 63 cans, chopped with scissors and flattened, in rows of red, white and blue: Coke, Diet Coke, Diet 7-Up, Dr. Pepper and Vanilla Pepsi.

"We started out stapling it together, but it didn't look good so we used duct tape on the back," senior Sandra Walker said.

The music during the presentation will be the Guess Who's version of "American Woman." The skirt will fit around the waist of model Anastasia Fatiy, a junior.

"We have to put a shape on top of a shape, because we have to make the dress fit (Anastasia) so she can move," junior Ashley Maki said.

Eventually, the top will include pieces of can tops. Those will be sewed or stapled together. The back will be bare skin, with wire to hold the dress together. The project had involved five to six hours of work as of Tuesday.

"I'm most concerned about insulation," Gervais said. "I hope they don't end up cutting themselves."

• THIS IS NOT THE WIZARD OF OZ: Danial Gypack and his sister were watching the film version of "The Wizard of Oz" one day, when Gypack had an idea for his second-period class Wearable Art project.

"I thought, 'Hey, a vortex is geometric,' so I went and drew it," said Gypack, a sophomore.

Gypack's idea of creating a vortex-based dress evolved into the current project: a blue-checkered Dorothy dress that will lift up on pulleys to reveal a tornado. The underside of the dress will be painted to resemble a storm system.

Freshman Bronson Cokeley will model. The presentation's music will segue from "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" to the Wicked Witch's theme.

"It's going to be a Dorothy dress," Gypack explained. "He'll have a white shirt underneath, and he'll be carrying a basket with a dog in it. When he gets to a certain point, he'll flip it up like a tornado. He'll have ruby slippers on and black and white socks like the Witch had. One of his legs will be a tornado, and there will be fences and pigs flying around. And he'll have cow boxers on."

Senior Sarah Elliott invented the pattern for the dress using a geometric equation.

"I took Bronson's measurements and calculated how wide you could spread your arms so the diameter of the bottom of the circle in the skirt has to be wider than however wide you can spread your arms," Elliott said.

"It's hard, at least for me, to realize that math can have a practical application in your life," she added.

• QUEEN OF HEARTS: Eli Wray from Gervais' sixth-period class thought of making a formal dress entirely out of playing cards.

The skirt will consist of cards, face up, in any suit, and end with a fringe of face-down red and black cards. A belt will be made out of red face-down cards, and the top is where it gets tricky. The base will be black cards face down, with a red heart (made out of red cards face down) superimposed over the top.

The cards will be sewn onto a slip and strung together through punched holes.

The model, sophomore Alycia Maryott, also will wear miniature playing-card earrings.

"It will probably take about nine decks for everything," Maryott said.

As of Tuesday, the group had done all of the planning, but little of the work.

"We're going to try and do it overlapping the half-point of each card, so that it looks even and it's all the same spacing," Maryott said.

"Stringing them together is probably going to take a few hours, so we'll have to get together two or three times this week," she said.

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