Satin, silk and dryer hose

Pieces in this year's wearable art show include an outfit made of duct tape and another titled 'Ouch'

Posted: Thursday, February 21, 2002

Artist Sara Lawson has two words for people delving into the world of wearable art.

Spray mount.

"3M. Buy stock. It's a very important factor in all this," she said.

Like many who make wearable art, the Ketchikan artist has become an expert in adhesives. Lawson, who doubles as a statuesque model as well as an artist, is bringing her latest creation to Juneau for Friday night's wearable art fashion show, "Going to Extremes: Wearable Art Extravaganza."

Models will make more than 40 trips down the runway, unveiling creations by more than 30 artists. The all-ages event at Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall includes a runway fashion show, a party and a dance. The show is a benefit for the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council's scholarship program.

Lawson has coordinated the Ketchikan Area Arts and Humanities Council's annual wearable art show for the past four years. Last year she helped Sybil Davis of the Juneau arts council organize the capital city's first show.

"It was a smashing debut," Lawson said. "There were some beauties last year."

Wearable art encompasses a range of media - fine art, costumes, crafting, sculpting and painting. A loosely defined genre, wearable art emerged in the 1960s when crocheted garments bordering on wearable fabric sculptures pushed the boundaries of fashion. Inspired by the idea of combining fashion with fine art, artists created incredible beaded hats, sculptural shoes and painted silk cloaks that doubled as wall hangings.

Although some wearable art pieces are museum-quality works of art, whimsy has consistently played a big role.

Lawson presented an original creation last year, a gown that featured a child's inflatable wading pool. She returns this year with an outfit called "Out of Reach." It's constructed of feathers, sequins, second-hand red satin sheets, dryer hose and lamp shades, united with spray adhesive.

"You definitely get in a mindset," she said. "You start looking at everything and thinking (about its potential) - ping pong balls, dryer hose, metal conduit, microphone pads."

Last year, Juneau artist Miah Lager modeled a latex garment she made herself, titled "Perception." She said she liked the atmosphere of the event.

"I thought it was great. It had a real, raw kind of feeling, not polished," she said. "I felt like I was in something that was happening, rather than something that was tired. I like that grunge, underground art feeling."

She said that aspect was inspiring.

"There were people there who don't necessarily consider themselves artists, but they definitely made art pieces," she said. "Some people might be intimidated by doing art, but they felt comfortable doing pieces for this art show."

This year Lager is working with painter and visual artist Heidi Reifenstein to create two outfits they will model together.

"We're dealing with issues of beauty," Lager said. "It's two pieces, but they work together. We're going to be a diptych," she said laughing. A diptych is a work made of two matching parts, usually displayed side by side.

Reifenstein said watching last year's show inspired her to participate this year.

"I think it's a good opportunity to be creative and let people see your creativity," she said. "When I have a show in a gallery, there's so much stress involved. This is fun."

Last year John Leo and Emily Windover modeled cloaks by Juneau artist and seamstress Bridget Milligan. The artist and models took wearable art a step beyond the fashion realm - Milligan painted Leo and Windover's bodies with Oriental designs. The final trip down the runway featured the models wearing more paint than fabric.

This year Leo and Windover are modeling their own creations. Leo took up crocheting to make his, which he described simply as, "Quite tall."

Davis said Juneau artists have used orange plastic newspaper bags, duct tape, hoochis and a host of found objects to build their art.

"We have the boy who made an entire duct tape outfit, and we have an entry by the medical community entitled, 'Ouch.'" Davis said. "We have an entry inspired by the (Middle Eastern) chador or burka, but with a Southeast twist."

The event this year will include performances by past recipients of the arts council's scholarship program. The Ursa Major chamber ensemble, a small string group, will play, and dancers Genevieve Carson and Dorian Smith will perform a hip hop number.

Anne Stokes, Deborah Marshall and Roblin Davis will emcee the runway show. Joel Bergsbaken will DJ the dance after the show and models will mingle to offer a closer look at the creations.

Admission is $15, $10 for students and seniors and $45 for a family pass, and tickets are available at Juneau bookstores. The show begins at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

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