A moving gallery displays wearable art
By Erika Webb
The Museum of Art-DeLand is calling all artists, working in all forms of media, to register for "Wearable Art III: From the Wall to the Runway," a juried art fundraiser.
Museum Board Member and Wearable Art Committee Chairwoman Jewel Dickson said the wearable art show is not a new concept; it's a revived event.
"We did a show like this 10 or 15 years ago and it was very successful," Ms. Dickson said. "After that we got into just the usual women's fashion show."
But about four years ago, the museum guild opted to revisit the wearable art show because it appealed to a broader audience.
"It has been a good draw," she said. "We also wanted to make it an evening event centered around art and artists."
Jackets, vests, tops, coats, skirts, entire outfits and accessories including scarves, hats, bags and more are examples of "wearable art."
The deadline for entry is March 10 and prospective artists are asked to provide the signed entry form, artist bio/statement and a drawing/description of the proposed entry. Accepted entrants will be notified by email Tuesday, March 18, unless otherwise noted.
Drawings, descriptions and digital .jpg submissions must be the artist's original designs; once accepted designs may not be significantly altered, according to the museum.
A stipend of $75 is given to artists juried in the show. Shipped entries will not be accepted.
The revival started with Green With Envy, on Earth Day in 2012, which showcased recycled items fashioned into creative body coverings.
"It's amazing, recyclable art," Ms. Dickson said. "One dress was made out of water bottles."
That show's success led the guild to consider all forms of wearable art, opening the door to more artists, more media and still a wider spectrum of attendees.
So 2013 brought "From the Wall to the Runway" with 12 artists creating a total of 20 pieces.
"From the Wall to the Runway conveyed the idea the art on the wall inspires the artist to create wearable art," Ms. Dickson said. "Last year's Best in Show was a dress made of red balloons."
Artist Neva Durham of Lakeland came up with that one.
A dress made of balloons? Given Murphy's Law wasn't that sort of "asking for it"?
"They're not blown up balloons," Mrs. Durham said in a phone interview. "They're shredded."
True artists see things in other things.
"The balloons looked like rose petals ... almost like leaves," she said.
When she laid them out and moved them around they took on the appearance of feathers.
Attaching them to the "old skinny 1980s purple velvet prom dress," which Mrs. Durham said must have weighed 25 pounds, was tricky.
"Hot glue doesn't work on rubber," she said, "so I placed the balloons with pins and hand tacked everything. Sewing through rubber is not easy, either."
She also entered an Elizabethan ball gown adorned with 2,000 rolled playing cards -- "Queen of Hearts."
The artist attended Sueños de Dali (Dreams of Dali) last October at The Dali Museum in St. Petersburg. Because the fundraiser's theme was "Surreal Alice in Wonderland" she chose to wear the skirt from the two-piece "Queen of Hearts" costume.
"I didn't realize it was a costume contest and I won first place," she said.
Surprisingly the artist, who works with just about everything but canvas, didn't know she was one until several years ago.
With no formal art training, Mrs. Durham, now 46, was an accountant who volunteered, as a favor for a friend, to do the makeup on models in a fashion show.
"God showed me a gift I had, late in life," she said.
Now, she owns Diva Designs Makeup and she stays very busy on the weekends. She also has a full time weekday job.
Wearable art came into focus just over two years ago.
"I design from head to toe -- hair, makeup, everything. I want my models to fit a certain look," Mrs. Durham said. "I tell them to be actresses, become the design and make it come alive."
"Queen of Hearts" is modeled by a "plus size girl" who plays up the "off with your head" theme quite well.
"It's not just about the clothes," Mrs. Durhamsaid. "It's about each piece of the whole that has life."
Mrs. Durham talks and thinks like an artist. She knows her audience. Last year, in DeLand, that awareness paid off.
"Last year's dress played to them and their memories," she said softly. "They said ' came out and all I saw was Rita Hayworth.'"
Mrs. Durham is not revealing what she has planned this year, but said she will submit three to five pieces. One is called, "He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not."
One will be published in the Florida Bride magazine's March edition as part of a tribute to up and coming artists throughout the state.
Ms. Durham also created the ballerina ensemble displayed on the announcement for this year's show.
Silk flowers and body paint became a fluid mixture of lace-like bodice drifting into puffy skirt and neckpiece.
"Her stuff is out of this world," Ms. Dickson said.
Humbly, Mrs. Durham agreed.
"I give God all the glory for giving me this amazing talent ... and my husband for putting up with me," she said.
Imagination is encouraged.
"We're looking for really creative outfits. This isn't your regular fashion show," Ms. Dickson said promising something for everyone.
"The first year there were a couple of men who weren't too sure about it, but it wasn't what they expected. Last year we had a lot of men," She said. "It's really fun to see what can be done with clothes inspired by art."
The committee expects to choose 15 artists to display 30 pieces.
Judges look for creativity and originality, innovative design and use of materials and techniques, quality of workmanship and construction and overall presentation.
"Wearable Art III: From the Wall to the Runway" will be Saturday, May 17, in the Museum of Art's theater. Tickets are $40.
"We are grateful for the community support of the museum's special events, most recently Viva La Vida and now the upcoming Wearable Art III," said Museum of Art-DeLand Director of Development Pattie Pardee. "Their success ensures the continuation of our arts education programming which serves thousands of residents and visitors annually."
For complete submission guidelines, visit www.moartdeland.org.