Each year, the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council hosts its Wearable Art Extravaganza. It’s a fundraiser for the council’s fine arts scholarships and individual artist grants.
Like many other events in the pandemic era, most of it was virtual, but that didn’t keep the artists involved from having fun in 2021. This year, the show had a sci-fi theme and featured outfits that were out of this world.
Amy Dressel and Nic DeHart dance and wave their thumbs up in synchronized movements to the energetic beat of electronic music for this year’s Wearable Art Extravaganza. The theme this year was “Intergalactic” and their outfits were a perfect fit for the cosmic occasion.
Dressel and DeHart sport mango-colored spandex jumpsuits and rainbow wigs made out of plastic straws. They have space packs with tubes that connect to their facemasks.
Dressel says the story behind their outfits is that they’re space travelers looking for a good party.
“Nic sewed some jumpsuits and then we like, adorned it with all kinds of different stuff that was recycled,” Dressel said.
That recycled stuff included discarded COVID-19 vaccine vials that decorate their headbands, wrists and space packs.
Dressel is a pediatrician and has also volunteered to administer COVID-19 vaccines. She says using the empty vials worked well with the outfit’s theme.
“That would probably be good for us to be vaccinated against whatever celestial stuff is out there,” Dressel said. “It kind of was fun to be able to include that.”
DeHart says the concept for the outfits — titled “So Long and Thanks For All The Fish” — was inspired by a popular sci-fi novel series.
“We kind of did a little nod to Douglas Adams’ ‘Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.’ And I just thought it was kind of a fun idea,” DeHart said.
The outfits won first place in the wearable art competition, which was decided by judges and votes based on construction, innovation and presentation.
For Dressel, who’s taken part in the annual Wearable Art Extravaganza for 19 years, it was a truly special moment because it was her first time winning.
“It was definitely unexpected,” Dressel said. “It’s kind of a little bit overwhelming to be like, wait, what, after all these years of watching other people and being impressed by other people and saying yeah, that definitely should have won. That was a great outfit, and then all of a sudden be like, ‘Whoa, we won?’”
DeHart says he was shocked they won.
“I really didn’t think that we’re gonna win, and I never do it — so I never participate to win. That’s not really my goal. It’s just to have the experience,” DeHart said.
And he says, now that they have bragging rights for best of show this year, they’re already planning for the next one.
Editor’s note: KTOO Public Media is a partner for the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council’s Wearable Art Extravaganza.