Wearable Art Exhibition reveals a distinct artistic experience

K. S. McCUTCHEON

Corsets and codpieces was one of the art categories at SWAG.

Corsets and codpieces was one of the art categories at SWAG.

The Wearable Art Exhibition at the Saskatchewan Craft Council’s Affinity Gallery presents extraordinary works of art. Each piece captures the artist’s perspective on the participatory theme, with works ranging from dresses to capes and headpieces.

While the art pieces no longer grace the bodies of models and dancers, they are now displayed on mannequins. The exhibit is running at the Saskatchewan Craft Council from Feb. 23 to April 12.

Alexa Hainsworth, the artist who created the “Agave” andLycogala” pieces, recognizes that movement is an integral aspect of the wearable art. However, Hainsworth remains excited that the event did not end on the runway.

Hainsworth’s art is inspired by theatre, stage design, films, fashion and nature. Many months were dedicated to designing and sewing colourful synthetic textiles to create sculptural pieces.

Hainsworth began by drawing the potential pieces and then created armatures made of wire and woven by hand. Many elements were taken into consideration for Hainsworth’s work — including choosing all of the fabric based on its texture and feel. She often finds the right fabrics, ranging from repulsive to glamourous, in the bridal section.

The wearable art is not always flattering and Hainsworth’s work morphs and disfigures the body through her pieces.

“I aim to create a fantasy that is appealing, shocking and not an everyday occurrence,” Hainsworth said.

But the fantasy must also be balanced and Hainsworth is careful to not overload a piece to the point where it cannot be understood by the audience.

There are notable differences between wearable art and fashion. Fashion maintains an expectation of beauty, the aim to sell products to consumers and the importance of the designer’s name. In contrast, wearable art intends to make the model look strange and uses diverse materials to express a viewpoint.

The pieces were first displayed at the Saskatchewan Wearable Art Gala held in October 2013 as a fundraiser for the envisioned Jack Millikan Centre, which will be an eco-friendly building located in an area of forest in Ness Creek, Sask.

The multi-purpose centre aims to host musical events and art conferences outside of a city setting and will provide an environment for nature explorations as well as expressions of arts and culture.

Many interesting works of art were designed for the open category at SWAG.

Many interesting works of art were designed for the open category at SWAG.

The fundraiser in October was a successful event for artists, whose pieces were revealed by models and Alma Flamenca dancers. An element of competition was also included in the fundraiser, giving awards to artists for different categories.

The attentive audience was exposed to a range of works that fell into one of three categories — headpiece, corset/codpiece and an open category. Each piece was made with a variety of materials including seed pods, a recycled metal cage, vinyl records, cutlery, a bicycle seat, chicken wire fencing and photographs.

One of the event organizers, Arnfinn Prugger explained that the works were required to be both wearable and well constructed.

“The best pieces took common materials and used them in cool and innovative ways,” Prugger said.

Jolene Dusyk took home the Best-in-Show award for “Mabel’s Equity”, which was constructed with chicken wire and 195 glass pieces. The winner of the open category — “Photographic Memory” by Nisha Rocamora — was created using coffee filters and photographs.

The SWAG submission form states its purpose: “SWAG is not about fashion or clothing, it is about creating a new approach to what is worn on the body.”

Organized by Lindsay Embree, Arnfinn Prugger and Carlie Letts, SWAG also included artists from across the globe. For events in conjunction with the Wearable Art Exhibition, a number of the artists will speak at the Artists’ Talk on March 22. The wrap-up reception will also include the artists on April 12.

The organizers intend to host a second SWAG in the fall of 2015. Members of the community are invited to attend the events and to participate in the excitement SWAG brings to Saskatchewan.

“A wearable art show is different, funky and fun. We can do it right here and do a great job of it,” Prugger said.

Both SWAG and the Jack Millikan Centre compliment one another with their shared artistic emphasis. The exhibition and centre stress the importance of gathering people together and creating art that is unique in a supportive space.

The Wearable Art Exhibit will be on display at the Saskatchewan Craft Council’s Affinity Gallery located at 813 Broadway Avenue until April 12. Visit saskcraftcouncil.org for gallery viewing times and to see images from the Saskatchewan Wearable Art Gala.


Photo: Katherine Fedoroff