Valdosta Daily Times

October 28, 2012

Flaunt: Fashion from Trash to Class

Brittany D. McClure
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — Twenty-eight artists turned trash to class in the newest traveling art exhibit called “Flaunt” at the Annette Howell Turner Center for the Arts.

“Every dress is made of recycled and upcycled material from each of the artist’s sponsors,” said arts center Executive Director Cheryl Oliver.

The show — which opened Sept. 7 at the Thomasville Center for the Arts — was in partnership with Downtown Thomasville and Keep Thomas County Beautiful.

Hundreds applied to the juried competition that judged each artist’s work but also had a unique condition that called for each chosen artist to make a dress from 100 percent recycled material from an assigned sponsor.

“The call for artists was for those who used upcycled materials in their medium,” said development coordinator for the Center for the Arts and Flaunt artist Tracey Timmons. “The dress was just a condition of the show.”

Timmons is not a formally trained artist but makes jewelry from precious metal clay.

“It’s a fine silver dust with an organic binder and water,” said Timmons. “It’s moldable.”

Though she has never entered a juried competition, Timmons sent an application and pictures of five samples of her work hoping to be one of just 28 chosen to be a part of the exhibit.

“I found out in June that I was selected,” said Timmons.

Every artist was assigned to one of 28 merchant locations in Downtown Thomasville where their show pieces — Timmons created 13 pendants — would be displayed and was also assigned a sponsor who would provide the recycled materials.

Timmons was paired with The Gift Shop in Thomasville and the Thomasville National Bank. Thomasville National Bank chose the material of a million dollars worth of shredded currency, coin rolls and money boxes.

Each artist was given about a month but Timmons finished her dress in one weekend.

“Once the idea hit me, I just went for it,” said Timmons.

Timmons used paintable wallpaper as the base material for her creation.

“I needed something heavy enough to hold glue without warping it,” said Timmons.

She crafted the bodice using duct tape. After forming the shape, she painted glue onto the surface and packed on shredded currency in roughly six-inch strips.

The dress had to be worn by a model, so Timmons cut a strip straight down the back and used Velcro to hold it together.

She used a money box to make a purse and coin rolls to make bows which she placed on the model’s shoes.

The idea for Timmons’ creation came from the inspiration of every girl’s secret weapon: The little black dress.

“The Gift Shop is a really elegant, upscale store,” said Timmons. “I wanted my dress to fit the store.”

Timmons’ challenge was to not make the dress look crafty.

“I wanted it to look elegant,” said Timmons.

Elegant doesn’t even begin to describe the delectable piece of fashion.

Like Monet’s “A Sunday on La Grande Jatte,” from afar, the method is unnoticeable. As you walk closer, you begin to see the detail in each shredded bill.

At a distance, you see the creation, but up close, you witness the masterpiece that is the devotion of manipulating a million dollars worth of currency into an appealing yet functional piece of art.

Though Timmons works with upscaled material with her jewelry, she has never worked with recycled material to this extent, and neither had many of the artists.

“It made every artist step outside of the box,” said Timmons.

The exhibit’s recycled and fresh twist on fashion showcases a variety of artists whose mediums are subtly reflective in each of the dresses.

During the opening in Thomasville, each artist “flaunted” their pieces that were judged while models walked the green carpet and stood like mannequins on tree stumps to showcase that any trash could be turned to class in the right artist’s hands.

“We are just extremely proud that Tracey was selected as only one of 28 in this prestigious art event,” said Oliver. “We are proud to partner with the Thomasville Center for the Arts in presenting the opportunity to view these remarkable dresses.”

The Annette Howell Turner Center for the Arts will hold a reception 5-7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 5, that will introduce five new artists, the new children’s art exhibit, the annual snow village display, and the “Flaunt” exhibit.

“Flaunt” will remain in Valdosta until Nov. 13, when it will travel to Albany.