Personal Adornment Day 2008: Reflection Revisited II

What were you doing in the late afternoon of Thursday, April 10th? That evening, the fourthannual Personal Adornment Day and Makeup Extravaganza took over Haas. It was a bit like a carnival orparade, complete with music and applause. MixedMedia, Fabric Design, 3D Design, and Theatre students showcased their obviouslytime-consuming projects in a fun and music-filled environment that evening. Studentsand faculty set up a runway through the already art-filled gallery upstairs that stretched from the back of the gallery,where models prepared to walk near the elevators, winding around a pole nearthe entrance. When I arrived, the space around this taped-off runway was packedwith a fascinated audience. The models paraded and danced along the snake-likerunway, in manners consistent with the themes of their wearable art. The themesranged from social commentary about capitalism, to the personal experiences ofartists. Some models did more performance than others, such as offering candyor a persona to the audience. Not only were thecostumes original, handmade designs, but many were constructed from recycledmaterials. Witheach new model and theme, there was corresponding music. For example, a dress made from recycledumbrella panels, with paper cocktail umbrellas coating the skirt, wasaccompanied by Rihanna’s “Umbrella” song. How clever! One artist’s use of a recycled cardboard box with “found” clothing –meaning, clothing manufactured by someone other than the artist – was less thanimpressive, but the performance aspect of the work made up for that. Hisinvolvement with the audience was upbeat and joyous. Only a few of the worksmodeled on the runway were lacking in technical skill, but this is where theartists’ innovation came into play. The artists and models were innovative intheir choices of music, and use of performance interaction with the audience. Themost fascinating aspect of this show for me was the use of materials. The cover design for the program pamphletincludes the phrase, “material innovation,” which is exactly what thisextravaganza was about. Some of thematerials that were used automatically defined certain works as avant-garde,such as water balloons, metal, duct tape, or records. These were very exciting. I had never seen a dress made from mild steelbefore the experience of this show. Iwas also impressed with a cocktail dress constructed out of moldedmusical records. I am amazed that anytype of clothing can be made from steel, without being reminiscent of medievaltimes. I also suspect that records areas difficult to mold into a dress as steel. These are impressive skills! One ofmy favorite pieces was, at first glance, a well-constructed evening gown with astylishly low-cut back. As the lovely model wearing it walked away from me,though, I noticed fine strands of fiber trailing behind her. The lyrics to theaccompanying music, “She’s in the shower!” made even more sense when the runwaynarrator announced the work to be about a fear of shower drain lint! Notevery artist showed works made with non-traditional materials. There were a few gowns that were simplybeautiful, by at least two different artists. One of these artists drew herinspiration from the way the forest encouraged her imagination to runwild. Her series of dresses modeled down the runwaywere the closest to fine fashion of any at the show. Elegant and earthy, thisseries of slightly matching dresses was reminiscent of a wedding in theforest. This presentation of a varietyof work was the highlight of the evening. The students seemed rightfully happywith their efforts, especially when they all ran onto the runway for an encoredance to David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance.” Itwas such a treat! The icing on the cake was the cookout directly afterwards,with Chef Karl Beamer. Everyone who stayed continued to celebrate the students’work with vegetables, burgers, and drinks. There are so many students with an excess of creativity at Bloomsburg that an event like the Extravaganza is absolutely necessary.

Lisa Neese

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