Ten years old and still wearable

Hope Mayer models a dress made out of maps titled “Around the World” during the 10th annual Wearable Arts Show at the Centre for Creative Arts on Saturday, Sept. 20, 2019. Winning the runner-up people’s choice, the dress was designed by Mayer and Alaina Kunz with make-up by Chantal Wall. Peter Shokeir / Daily Herald-Tribune

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Models became the canvas as they strolled down the catwalk Saturday while donning pieces designed by regional artists.

The Centre for Creative Arts brought back its Wearable Arts Show for a tenth year with both a free and ticketed event as part of Alberta Culture Days.

“We don’t have a fashion week here in Grande Prairie and this is sort of our version of fashion week,” said Executive Director Candace Hook.

“It’s a little bit quirky but so is our community. It’s a really good chance for people to stretch their creative muscles and as an artist it’s a really fun opportunity to do something that you otherwise wouldn’t do.”

Along with Curator Kiren Niki Sangra, Hook first learned about the global phenomenon of wearable art while attending the Alberta University of the Arts.

“Wearable arts was a big thing there when we were going to school and we always thought it would be fun and a big hit here in Grande Prairie,” Hook said. “The first year we did it we thought it would be a one-shot deal but the response was amazing and every year we’ve had new artists joining in and every year both show have sold out so we just keep feeding it.”

“Grande Prairie is a creative community and it’s something really different for people to experience.”

The 2019 show featured 18 entries—one outfit was made out of over 800 CDs, while another was crafted from egg cartons and scent tester strips. The winners were “Radio Gaga” by Shirley Hayden for people’s choice, “Around the world” by Alaina Kunz and Hope Mayer for runner-up people’s choice and “Swan Dress” by Sandra Bogrfjord for artist’s choice.

Lilith Monk wears a dress created from children’s toys during the 10th annual Wearable Arts Show at the Centre for Creative Arts on Saturday, Sept. 20, 2019. Designed by Caroline Cousineau, the dress is titled “Favourite Things.” Peter Shokeir / Daily Herald-Tribune

“Every year, people ask me what is wearable art because it’s a little bit different from fashion,” Hook said.

“If you can wear it anywhere to anything, it’s not wearable art.”

Hook noted the quality of art had improved each year since the show’s inception.

“The first year was fantastic but it was a lot of people who maybe didn’t quite understand what was possible with wearable arts,” she said.

“We have artists now who were children who were in the audience when the first couple shows came around. We have people who’ve grown up on it and people who’ve enjoyed it every year so the bar just keeps getting raised every single year.”

In recognition of the show’s 10th year, the Centre for Creative Arts had a retrospective exhibit that featured the 170 pieces from the past nine shows. This year’s Wearable Arts Show brings the total up to 188 pieces.

“With loose math, I figure it’s about 15,000 hours that have been put in by local artists to create these fantastic pieces,” Hook said.

The South Peace Regional Archives will also archive the photos and programs from the last decade of the Wearable Arts Show.

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