Apocalypse Now!

By Byron Aspaas

Santa Fe, NM ”” The Student Success Center was filled with trash as the air blew scraps of paper through the building each time the door opened to visitors. Groups of students stood in circles grooming one another with tape and wire, attaching and reattaching articles of clothing, while pieces of their attire fell to the ground and were swept away by the opening doors. It was a dump-site of couture fashion.

“This is the 2nd Annual Trash Bash event,” Monica Gutierrez smiled proudly. “Our job, as members of Student Sustainability Leadership (SSL), is to brainstorm and find ways to get student involvement so our school will continue to recycle.”

Gutierrez is a student of Fine Arts at Institute of American Indian Arts where she specializes in sculpture and is a member of the SSL program. “Trash Bash is just an event with an apocalyptic theme since its 2012 and supposedly the end of the world,” she laughed.

In the fall of 2010 the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) introduced the SSL program to its curriculum. The program is coordinated by Annie McDonnell who has helped raise awareness of environmental studies on the IAIA campus “We started just wanting to do projects on campus that had to deal with sustainability and gardens,” McDonnell said. “There were a group of students and I who were interested in that [sustainability].”

Sasha LaPointe, a junior at the Institute of American Indian Arts studies creative writing. Both the students and McDonnell brainstormed about ideas to raise awareness. McDonnell recalls: “The Trash Bash is actually Sasha’s idea.”

“I have a background in burlesque shows and costume performances in Seattle,” Trash Bash’s coordinator, Sasha LaPointe says. “SSL wants to get students involved. Students are asked to participate by making jewelry, costumes, ensembles, art, etc.”

Both students agree that before SSL’s involvement with the student body “Recycle bins were just another trash bin,” Gutierrez recalled. “Since SSL has begun, the students have pushed towards more recycling and had more concerns about the usage of alternate fuels. We also created a compost garden.”

As the show was about to begin the auditorium was staged in red lighting. Trash filled the platform with ornaments reconstructed of old waste and recycled materials made by students. On the wall, scenes from the film The Road Warrior were flashed in silence while music played from the speakers. Images from the movie played in unison with each musical segments. The audience nestled into their seats and the music stopped. With a Thunderdome-era Tina Turner-like persona, Bonita Rickers walked out dressed in a white bouffant outfit made of plastic bags with earrings and necklace made of recycled tin made by student designer, Nicole Lovato. As Rickers stepped onto the podium as the woman in charge, the emcee ”” she became master of the show. With her hair placed perfectly and shaved on the side, she looked like a fierce warrior princess of fashion. As she announced the importance of SSL and its continuing success as a program at IAIA, the lights dimmed, and the first model appeared by the door.

The Post-Apocalyptic show began.

First introduced was Museum Studies student Tazbah Gaussoin’s work. Her creation was modeled by Kamella Bird-Romero, who was highlighted in gold paint. The well-designed gown harmonized the statuesque, goddess-like figure that was surrounded in fallen leaves encased with sheer fabric.

Along with Gaussoin’s creation, many student designers accomplished their works of art like student designer, Mildred Raphaelito. Her creation replicated elements of the earth which were modeled by fellow IAIA students McKeon Dempsey, Katrina Montoya, and Joanne Morales. Each person wore Raphaelito’s outfits made to represent the willow tree, the water/air elements, and a feathered gown.

Other student designers fashioned their aesthetic creativity like the raincoat made of bubble wrap, the refurbished/redesigned leather jacket infused and encrypted with artwork made by a wood burner. Elegant aprons were on display for the post-apocalyptic housewives, as well as, bluebird flour-sack regalia for toddlers. All the exotic gowns presented were made of recycled-material, clothing was made from vintage punk shirts and vintage material, and modern-day teen skirts were prepared with recycled-plastics.

One elegant fitted-skirt was finished with recycled-purses and accessorized with aluminum gold wings, complete with a hand-made clutch ”” a collaboration design by Gaussoin and Bird-Romero.

To end the show, Studio Arts student George Alexander strutted down the runway like a Victoria Secret’s model in a beautiful head-dress made of recycled Dr. Pepper cans by fellow student, Terence McDonald. The pieces worn by Alexander were complimented with a pink t-shirt-bikini-top and bottom made by Sasha LaPointe. Alexander ended the show, his nobility and confidence allowing him to leave the ring of designers like a fashionista not ashamed to wear recycled material.

As the show concluded, Pilar Agoyo, a fashion designer and graduate of IAIA in Fashion Design and Drawing said: “It’s great to see that IA is bringing back fashion and design. I amazed by the creativity of it all. It takes guts to put stuff together especially if you’re not a designer,” She continued. “We used to have fashion shows all the time. We were a family unit back then and it’s great to see its returning to IAIA. My friends and I remain close still to this day because of the shows.”

She concluded: “Everyone did great. This was my first time coming and I brought my little girl, Haleigh. She’s always amazed by the ties I have with IAIA.”

Gutierrez reflected on the show: “The post-apocalyptic look allows you to still look Fabulous in something recycled”” couture fashion!”

Be prepared for the annual Trash Bash in 2013.


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