Every year, the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council holds its Wearable Art Extravaganza. This is a fundraiser for council fine arts scholarships and grants to individual artists.
Like many other events in the pandemic era, most were virtual, but that didn’t stop the artists involved from having fun in 2021. This year, the show had a sci-fi theme and featured held out of this world. .
Amy Dressel and Nic DeHart dance and thumbs up in synchronized movements to the energetic rhythm of electronic music for this year’s Wearable Art Extravaganza. The theme this year was “Intergalactic” and their outfits were perfectly suited to the cosmic occasion.
Dressel and DeHart wear mango-colored spandex jumpsuits and rainbow wigs made from plastic straws. They have space packs with tubes that connect to their face masks.
Dressel says the story behind their outfits is that they are space travelers looking for a good party.
“Nic sewed jumpsuits and then we love, adorned him with all kinds of different things that have been recycled,” Dressel said.
That recycled stuff included discarded COVID-19 vaccine vials that adorn their headbands, wrists, and space packs.
Dressel is a pediatrician and has also volunteered to administer the COVID-19 vaccines. She says using the empty vials worked well with the outfit theme.
“It would probably be good for us to be vaccinated against whatever heavenly substance there is,” Dressel said. “It was kind of fun to be able to include that.”
DeHart says the concept of the outfits – titled “So Long and Thanks For All The Fish” – was inspired by a series of popular science fiction novels.
“We kind of gave Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy a little nod. And I just thought it was a fun idea, ”DeHart said.
The outfits won first place in the dress art competition, which was decided by judges and votes based on construction, innovation and presentation.
For Dressel, who participated in the annual Wearable Art Extravaganza for 19 years, it was a really special moment as it was the first time she won.
“It was really unexpected,” Dressel said. “It’s a little overwhelming to be like, wait, what, after all these years of looking at other people and being in awe of others and saying yes, it sure should have won. It was a great outfit, and then all of a sudden you’re like, “Whoa, we won? “
DeHart says he was shocked they won.
“I really didn’t think we were going to win, and I never do – so I never compete to win. It’s not really my goal. It’s just to have the experience, ”DeHart said.
And he says, now that they have the right to brag about the best of the show this year, they’re already planning the next one.
Editor’s Note: KTOO Public Media is a partner of the Wearable Art Extravaganza of the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council.