#BadassCreatives: Textile Artist Wylie Sofia Garcia (2015 Uncommon Thread Wearable Art Show Juror)
I’ve been following Culture Candy’s Uncommon Thread Wearable Art Show for a number of years, although I still have yet to make it to Baton Rouge to witness the artistry in person. (Let’s change that this year, shall we?)
Back when I was creating my own wearable art more frequently, I even considered entering myself. After all, it’s an amazing juried national competition showcasing the best in wearable art. Plus, there’s a $1000 cash prize on the line.
Uncommon Thread is a show unlike any other… a full team of professional choreographers, dancers, musicians, make up artists, stylists, set, sound, and lighting designers come will together to produce an epic evening of wearable art, this year on December 5, 2015 at 8 p.m. at the Main Library in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. But first, textile artists, fashion designers, skilled costumers and sculptors from across the country must submit their work.
The call for entries for the 2015 Uncommon Thread Wearable Art Show is now open. The deadline to apply is midnight on November 16, 2015. This year’s theme is Epilogue, with artists asked to “meditate on notable books, authors, or literary characters and use wearable art as means of opening up a conversation about these influences.”
I recently chatted with this year’s juror, artist Wylie Sofia Garcia, to learn more about the show, her experiences creating amazing works of wearable art, and what she’ll be looking to include in this year’s show:
How did you get started making wearable art?
Ever since I was a kid, I have been embellishing my clothes. I got started commercially designing wearable art in the summer of 2003. I was fresh out of undergrad from The University of Chicago and had just moved to Burlington, Vermont. I needed a way to make some money, so I started upcycling t-shirts under the guise of Y’s Design: Couture Wearable Art. My motto was “Fighting Cliché” and I embroidered that phrase on almost everything I made as my signature. Eventually, when the clothing business really crossed over to wearable art I was thinking about clothing more as a form sculpture than as functional everyday object.
What draws you to this medium versus other art forms?
It is ridiculously fun and brings me joy. At times there can be so many formal rules to sculpting depending upon the media one chooses. I love being able to have total freedom in this art form.
I saw that you’ve been involved with Uncommon Thread for a number of years. As an artist, how does this show differ from other art shows you’ve been involved with?
There are really good and dedicated people running this show. The models are amazing and easy to work with. The setting, where it takes place, is always fantastic. And it’s Baton Rouge, which, as a location, always pleasantly surprises me with its devotion to the arts, and always delivers a fantastic turnout of support for art/fashion events.
What will you be looking for when evaluating this year’s wearable art submissions for Uncommon Thread?
I will be looking for several things: quality of construction, connection to our theme Epilogue, and use of innovative material.
What can an artist do to set their work apart from the rest?
This is always a difficult question to answer. As a judge, I like to be surprised by thoughtfulness. I like it when an artist pays attention to detail.
Can you share with us a little more about your yearlong wearable performance art project, The Dress That Makes the Woman?
The premise of the project was: One Year. Twelve Dresses. One artist’s challenge to create and to wear a work of art for each month of the year.
The project took place from 2010-2011 and was invented partly as a birthday gift to a friend of mine. The intent was to embark upon a ritualized creative challenge: to wear and to work daily on a dress for one month at a time for an entire year; resulting in twelve wearable dresses.
What inspired it?
The inspiration came during a walk at a special place called Shelburne Farms in Shelburne, Vermont. The landscape was designed by Frederick Law Olmstead, who also designed Central Park amongst other wonderful landscapes. Most of my inspiration really gets in the zone while walking there and I have created some of my favorite projects while traversing that scenery.
How did you feel about the project through the course of the year?
This project became a wearable diary. It was very exciting in the beginning to feel the novelty of wearing a wearable sculpture every day and changing it according to my whim. The performance aspect of the project was an interesting experiment on private vs. public space with regards to the body and what we choose to wear.
Overall the project became a testament to letting go of image and becoming comfortable with the person within. It was really transformative and powerful. I like to say that with this project came a year of love, loss, struggle and couture –- the honest mess of one woman’s daily life.
Has there been any lasting impact of this project on your other work?
Yes, this project taught me the importance of perseverance and daily practice. One of the rules for this project was that I had to work on the dress every day for at least 10 minutes, whether I wanted to or not; even if that meant sewing in the same spot for 10 minutes. The daily “do-ing” of making art is an important lesson for anyone trying to succeed as an artist.
Think you’ve got what it takes to create an epic wearable work of art?
Learn more about this year’s theme Epilogue and download the prospectus and guidelines at uncommonthread.culturecandy.org. Remember, all entries are due by November 16, 2015 by midnight, so get to work!
Live nearby and want to see the show?
Witness 360 degrees of theater, dance, fashion, visual art, music, and, this year, books at the 2015 Uncommon Thread Wearable Art Show: Epilogue on December 5, at 8 p.m. at the Main Library in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Buy your tickets now: $20 early bird tickets are available until November 20! (P.S. Be sure to RSVP on Facebook and share with your friends!)