By Cheyenne Mathews
Editor In Chief
The 30th Annual Wearable Arts Show is gold. No really, with the theme of alchemy, many artists used this inspiration to transform wearable art into something golden. The Wearable Arts Show is an annual fundraiser for the Ketchikan Arts Council and it showcases artists all over Ketchikan and from within many of Ketchikan’s schools.
The show was opened by the Ketchikan Theatre Ballet jazz dancers. A majority of the dancers are Kayhi students. Senior Katie Powers is one of the jazz dancers, and she said the show is very fun because of the crowd atmosphere.
“We’ve been working on this dance since before Christmas break,” said Powers. “We’ve run it over and over again… The crowds are really awesome. They are always cheering and it’s really fun, especially the teachers.”
Bella Posey, Meagan Jorgensen, and Nina Lacroix are three Kayhi students modeling in the show. Lacroix is the French exchange student and she used Wearable as a way to a share a little french culture with Ketchikan. Posey is a junior and she has been performing in Wearable since first grade. This year she took the theme to an entirely new level.
“Well, alchemy is the combination of the mundane and putting it together to create something phantasmagorical and insane and mysterious right? So the inspiration from my piece came from two places, one from that explanation of alchemy and the silly things in life people don’t see as alchemy like baking a cake,” said Posey. “Or the auto mechanic transmission on your car. So my piece is all of Mr. Shelton’s car pieces that he gave to me last year… I brought all the stuff home and I created a, ‘it’s a steampunk bullet and transmission’ costume.”
Interpretations of alchemy varied from artist to artist. Some pieces focused on fire, others the tree of alchemy, transition, gambling as the western form of alchemy, and the phoenix. Posey said that each year artists add their own flare to the theme.
“It’s hard to tell how other people will interpret the theme,” said Posey. “There definitely seems to be a lot of the literal interpretation of alchemy as in precious metals. Last year, in world beat I was assuming that everyone would be doing tribal stuff and every other person was a bird. So just sometimes things get popped into people’s brains and just get taken and run with.”
Kayhi teachers Terri Whyte and Leigh Woodward also strutted down the runway. Whyte ran her piece with her sister and she was dressed as a dragon. Woodward modeled a piece that focused on the transition of a woman from old to young.
“Part of the creative process, I mean did the music for it, she had some ideas but I mixed it and did that,” said Woodward. “I kinda have get a feel of how I want to move. My piece has two… different songs. So I have to transition and change my movement a little bit.”
The Wearable Art Show was sold out for the gala performances on Friday and Saturday days before the actual performance. The large crowd is a very good sign for the Ketchikan Area Arts and Humanities Council. Executive Director Kathleen Light said that Wearable is the council’s largest fundraiser.
“We usually bring in, I think it’s $35,000,” said Light. “It’s our biggest fundraiser. It’s the best one.”
Light said the council raises money with ticket sales, but also with voting on next year’s theme.
“So we have three, we end up with three [possible themes] and then the audience and people online and everyone in Ketchikan can vote on those three suggestions,” said Light. “It’s a dollar a vote. So the one with the most votes is the next year’s theme.”
Light said that countless hours are invested into the show by artists and members of the council alike.
“Some of the artists start their piece immediately following Wearable,” said Light. “Some artists wait till January to start their piece… so the artists can take that long or that little time. In the summer we start working towards it, building the application, making sure we have, you know, all our ducks in a row. We’ve been doing it for 30 years so we do have a template that we can pretty much follow, but it is a lot of planning, it’s a lot of organizing.”
Modeling for the Wearable Art Show can be a terrifying endeavor, but First City Player’s Artistic Director, Elizabeth Nelson, advised models on how to work the runway during dress rehearsal.
“Always leave people wanting more,” said Nelson to one of the models. Nelson had other constructive criticism for the models like, “stay in your modeling persona all the way past the curtain” and “always make the way back faster than the way forward.”
Nelson is just one example of the large magnitude of people and time it takes to create Wearable. Light said that it took over 200 volunteers to make Wearable a reality.