Or as I fondly call it (out of ear shot of the students), Project High School
For the past 6 years Arcata Arts Institute has offered visual arts students a chance to develop skills in clothing design and construction, and showcase their work in a fashion show held at the end of the school year, named Flow. AAI is a school within Arcata High School that offers students in-depth art study through workshops held outside of the school day by artists from the community. For the fifth year in a row, I get the honor of mentoring these exceptionally creative and talented students! Here are some photos from our past show and photo shoot from April/May 2009... The first photo is a design by Maria Tonn incorporating all recycled materials. Corset made from duct tape. The group of three are Sophie, Tess and a design by Emily Martin. Tessa's group is shown last. Each model is wearing a dress that incorporates text that the model wrote. This 'text' is fabric using transfer paper made to look like newsprint. This past fall I taught a sewing workshop and boy did I learn a lot! Yes, I know, I was supposed to be the teacher but you know, just because you are good at something, doesn't mean you know how to teach it! more on that later....
Our new season of Flow has commenced and we met our designers for this season on Thursday. Our group is comprised mostly of first-timers as a lot of our designers last season were seniors and they have now moved on to bigger and better things.
I will be ably assisted by Renee Thompson, a local designer for Kokatat Water Sportswear and holder of a masters degree in costume design. I'm excited to work with her because you know all these teens want to make is revealing cocktail dresses and corsets! I think Renee is perfect for the latter task although I doubt she will thank me later.
I really love the program at AAI. It gives these students the opportunity to try things I was never exposed to in high school and they get to learn from some extremely talented folks in a very nurturing environment.
The atmosphere at the fashion show is like none other! There are almost 300 people in attendance and boy do they get in to it! The show is as professional as we can make it and we expect a lot from the students. During the months leading up to the show, they will also have a professional photo shoot with Robin Robin , get runway coaching by Sunni Scrivner, an experienced physical theater actor and graduate of Dell'Arte, hair and make-up prep for the show from local salons for all models, and of course they get Renee and I.
It is our job to help them through their design process, help them make good choices for success in fabric and pattern selection (we modify existing patterns for their designs and sometimes draft from scratch), sew and seam rip for them, and help them fit their garments. Most have no sewing experience and parts of this program can be brutal. But my goal is that they always feel supported, always get a solution to any issue, never feel like they are doing it alone, and in the end, I want them to feel like it was a positive experience no matter how grueling and that they were able to express themselves on the runway with their work. And the icing on the cake is that I hope they want to do it again!
I am extremely thankful to the Humboldt Area Foundation for awarding me a field of interest grant to pay for our stipends. They are an extremely supportive entity and share the vision of all who think arts for the young are important. I can't say enough about this program and in light of the current economic climate, the competition was fierce this year and I wasn't the only deserving applicant. I intend to make it count!
Coming soon: a trip to the fabric store with our designers, new products and fabrics for my Spring line, and ordering chicks for raising our annual meat chickens! Bye for now!