When: 7 p.m., Wednesday
Where: Weisman Art Museum, 333 E. River Road, Minneapolis
Cost: Free for University studentsstudents and WAM members; $5 general admission; reservation required
Collaboration between art and fashion is at the nucleus of “Threads,” a design event showcased at the Weisman Art Museum tomorrow evening. “Threads” is a design competition that will feature 10 original garments designed and executed by 10 selected individuals from the University of Minnesota’s apparel design sophomore class.
This event is the follow-up to 2012’s “No White” design competition, which insisted designers not use white materials during construction. 2013’s competition follows a similar formula, albeit a different restriction. The designers could not use traditional materials, i.e. fabric, buttons, zippers, etc.
The inspiration for this avant-garde approach to design comes from “The Greenheads Series,” which comprises 43 gouache paintings by artist Laylah Ali. The Greenheads are a group of ambiguously sexed, round-headed beings that pervade a dystopian world where eccentric and sinister exchanges are customary. The garments that will parade the runway are interpretations of Ali’s series.
Students used a number of unconventional objects to construct their projects: braided and frayed ropes, coffee filters and puzzle pieces that were dyed to mimic Ali’s color palette, among others. Sophomore Lauren Kacher used a piece of her everyday transportation for the base of her garment.
“I used bike tires to execute my interpretation and to communicate a message of being bound, oppressed and taken away from society and forced to watch while everyone else was free,” Kacher said.
The designers’ garments not only parody the physical construction and appearance of Ali’s paintings but also a selected piece of the rather ambiguous message her work signifies. Allise Prew, one of the presenting designers at “Threads,” communicates this idea not only in her nail-covered mini-dress but also in the ambiance of her runway presentation.
“I went a darker route with my music,” Prew said. “I drew inspiration from her [Ali’s] meanings, which are somewhat dark, so my song correlates with that. ‘Such Small Hands’ [by La Dispute] is a little bit scary, a little bit harsh.”
This design class project turned public fashion event definitively combines artistic thought with creative execution, which is something the Weisman Art Museum Collective — the student group behind the event — wanted to do. “Threads” is their brainchild.
“We were trying to connect two ideas: how Ali’s work is done through storytelling and how these students are expressing those stories through fabrics or threads in this case,” Emily Macy, campus relations manager of WAM Collective, said.
And those threads will parade the runway juried by five local art, fashion and design enthusiasts in hopes of being the best to wholly craft and execute “The Greenheads Series.” “Threads” attendees are urged to view the series, which is currently the featured exhibit at the Weisman, before attending the event.
“I would encourage people to look at her work because I think they’ll walk away with a deeper understanding of some of the themes she’s [Ali] talking about,” WAM representative Katie Covey said, “and also a deeper understanding of where the designers are getting their inspiration from.”