PORT TOWNSEND — “Extinction Rebellion.” “Crabby.” “Jellyfish.” T-shirts, giant jars and a red bodysuit. Such will be the sights at the Student Wearable Art Show, the annual event about to spill across the stage at the Key City Playhouse this coming Saturday.
“I just came from visiting a student who entered with a drawing of her piece that wasn’t very detailed,” artist and mentor Margie McDonald said last week.
She went in wondering how 18-year-old Natalie Grant’s show entry was progressing. Turns out “it’s practically built and it’s fantastic,” McDonald said.
“I couldn’t pick my jaw up off the floor fast enough.”
Grant’s piece is the aforementioned “Extinction Rebellion,” a full-length wearable sculpture she’s worked on for months. It’ll appear along with about a dozen other wearable art creations in two performances, at 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. at the playhouse, 419 Washington St. The 3 p.m. show will culminate in the awarding of cash prizes: $100 for first place, $50 for second and $25 for third.
Admission is $10 for adults and free for students, while advance tickets are available at www.keycitypublictheatre.org and 360-385-5278. Proceeds from the event — like its older sibling the Port Townsend Wearable Art Show on May 9 — benefit the Jefferson County Fund for Women and Girls. For information about the fund’s local work, see www.JCFGives.org, and for more about both wearable art shows, visit www.PTWearableArt.com.
The student show’s theme doesn’t shy away from reality: it’s “Salish Sea Meets Climate Destruction.” The young artists are constructing ocean creatures out of recycled materials and upcycled fabrics, ranging from curtains to bubble wrap.
“It’s controlled chaos. The kids just build stuff,” said Michele Soderstrom, art teacher at Port Townsend High School. Thanks to PT Artscape, a consortium funded by a Washington State Arts Commission grant, McDonald comes to her classroom to help students realize their artistic visions. On a recent morning Ephraim Lewis, 14, painted an umbrella-size pink hat inspired by those worn in the rice paddies of Asia while Rell Lennox, 15, supervised. She’ll model the yet-to-be-titled sculpture in Saturday’s show.
Nearby Aurora Faase, Claudia Wilcox, both 15, and Vicky Rincon, 14, fashioned the buoyant headdress of a walking “Jellyfish,” while Natalie Zavalza and Danielle Lukin, both 14, arranged the eyes on “Crabby.” McDonald talked with 14-year-old Mckaide Fowler about design elements and how he might make a three-dimensional cloth dolphin.
A creation for the Student Wearable Art Show “goes on your résumé. You’ve built something. It’s public performance. It’s collaborative,” said McDonald. She works with a team of artist mentors called SWATCH: Student Wearable Art Technical Creative Helpers, at Port Townsend High School and Quilcene School. Some of the young artists enter their pieces in the May show, and over its 10 years there have been students who, competing with professional artists, won its top prizes.
Grant’s wearable art piece is her senior project; after graduation she plans to go to the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding in Port Hadlock.
As for the unveiling of her work and that of her fellow students, “I already know it’s going to be absolutely amazing. You will be blown away by the creativity of a whole bunch of kids.”