Beyond the Recycled Runway

By: Andrew McGivern, curator of exhibitions on May 8th, 2014

The Woodson Art Museum’s exhibition schedule is developed to provide visitors with rich visual arts experiences. As curator of exhibitions, I look for variety in building a diverse schedule to appeal to the broadest spectrum of visitors.

A couple of years ago, an exhibition of artist-designed clothes made of recycled materials caught my attention. Through research, I discovered a TED talk by the artist – and environmental advocate – Nancy Judd.  In it, Nancy wore a yellow dress that she’d made from strips of plastic caution tape. She explained how her fashionable clothing made from trash was the perfect way to encourage people to recycle. After seeing the talk, I knew it would be a special exhibition.

Volunteer models an upcycled garment.We added ReDress: Upcycled Style by Nancy Judd to the Museum’s spring 2014 schedule and arranged to bring Nancy to Wausau for an artist residency. As Catie Anderson described in her April 23 blog post, a Museum partnership with the UW-Madison design studies department led to a fashion show with a twist held here on Saturday, May 3.

It’s always difficult to gauge how an audience might respond to such an event. I’m happy to report that it was a great success! In fact, it was so popular we ran the show a second time to accommodate more than 300 people.

Nancy Judd emceed the event, and community volunteers did an outstanding job of modeling the clothes designed and created by UW-Madison students. Two instructors even drove up to attend the show. Chicago DJ Dave Badesch, Catie’s good friend, provided contemporary background music.

Nancy Judd behind the scenes.It was all hands on deck for Museum staff. In addition to the countless hours spent on the project by educator Catie Anderson and Shannon Pueschner, who staffs the Museum’s Visitor Services desk, Joe Ruelle, Dave Jones, Matt Foss, and I moved artwork from one of the galleries and installed a runway, lighting, and 120 chairs. A second gallery was used as a dressing area. Tables, chairs, mirrors, and platforms were arranged for volunteer seamstresses and dressing assistants.

Amy Beck and Diane Wendt drove models to and from Verve Salon & Spa for hair styling and makeup. Jayna Hintz, Jane Weinke, and Shari Schroeder helped in numerous ways, including the spread that fed 60 behind-the-scenes people and the models.

Matt Marshall and Katie Rowe of RebelMM volunteered to film the fashion show and photograph the models. Take a look at a short-clip video Matt created.

Models line up for the Recycled Runway.It takes a lot of people to pull off a fashion show that runs smoothly and seamlessly.  We extend our thanks to the volunteers and the audiences who helped make Recycled Runway a resounding success!





A volunteer models an upcycled garment.

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