Junk to Funk focuses on interactive, wearable art with photo

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Pictured at last year’s Junk to Funk benefit for the TCA were (l-r) Adolfo Lim, Mary Feight, Isabella Porbe and Alex Porbe. Photo submitted.

Last year when a team of individuals brainstormed for a new fundraising activity to benefit the Tecumseh Center for the Arts (TCA), a little event known as “Junk to Funk” was born. The program featured an eco-friendly fashion show as models combined wearability, art and use of recycled materials. More than $3,000 was raised.

“We thought this would be a great way to not only raise funds, but it really has a little theatrical slant to it, which was very appropriate for here in the theater,” said Shelley Lim, Director of Cultural and Leisure Services, who said the event was actually an interactive art show. “Having an eco-fashion show is also something I think young people are very interested in, as well as many others.”

Junk to Funk also places considerable attention on the process of being creative and discovering what might be fashioned using a variety of materials. Artists submitted 20 garments for last year’s show, and Lim said the event was fun and successful.

“It also got some creative juices flowing, because several individuals said they wanted to create items for the next show,” Lim said. “What we ask is that folks submit garments that are wearable and created from items one would normally recycle or throw away.”

She said that the TCA’s technical director, Karen Bunch, and her crew turned the stage into a fashion runway, and some impressive items of clothing were modeled by either the artist or someone they designated to show off their artistic creations. A behind the scenes team included a stage manager and volunteers to coach the models on their sashaying technique as they displayed each unique creation.

Lim, once known as “the hat lady” in another incarnation when she owned a shop downtown, immediately thought of a hat that an artist created last year made of vinyl albums. “I thought that was really creative,” she said. “It turned out you could heat them or iron them to shape the hat.”

A father/daughter team created an ensemble using pieces of foam. “They went to the Scrap Shop in Ann Arbor,” Lim said, adding that the store is a popular recycling center where manufacturing companies and others can donate leftover materials. “I think a lot of art teachers take advantage of that,” she said. “The father/daughter team created a lovely, bright yellow foam ensemble from material left over from John Deere, so you can imagine the color.”

Another ensemble was created from the black material that’s put under landscaping, and one artist opened up silk ties and created an elegant and colorful smoking jacket.

“We had a very lovely evening gown created from drapery someone purchased from the Goodwill store, and two college students who came down from Lansing created an entire outfit made of plastic bags you would get from the grocery store,” Lim said.

A search on the Web gave Lim an idea of what eco-fashion means to people from all over the country and the world, and prompted even more ideas.

“One of the most colorful things I found looked like a prom dress or ball gown made of Skittles candy wrappers,” she said. “It was an explosion of color. It’s also hard to believe the number of eco-fashion dresses that have been crafted from newspapers.” The first Junk to Funk also featured one of those.

Lim said the sky is the limit as artists consider materials that might be recycled into an eco-fashion garment, and looks forward to the second annual event, which will take place on Thursday, April 18, from 6-8 p.m. Garments are also auctioned at the end of the show as an additional fundraiser.

The event includes a silent auction and refreshments prior to the fashion show. Nancy Prezioso of the Wild Iris and Holly DeWitt of Blush Boutique served as judges last year and have been asked if they’d like to take part this year, along with Amy Pelham of Classic Cabinetry.

“These ladies are fashion savvy,” said Lim. “Last year’s judges did an excellent job.”

To see details regarding this year’s Junk to Funk event, visit www.the.tca.org.

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