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Goodwill Avant Garde

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Designers succeed in challenging the viewer to consider the potential of repurposed materials.
Underwriting support from:

"Upcycling" cast-off materials in the interest of art

Eight West coverage

Information on the Goodwill website

by Melodee Jackson, Hope College student

Goodwill Avant Garde is an exhibit of dresses featured in the vitrines of the Goodwill Store on Division Avenue. Seen from the sidewalk near a bus stop, you are obliged to dodged pedestrians and position yourself at an angle to discern the works past the window reflection. The unconventional venue makes sense when you learn that the dresses are made of repurposed fabrics found in Goodwill.

The most impressive of the group is a festive jumble of colors, textures and styles by Kellyanne Wank; a charmingly bizarre hybrid of a sweater and a ballroom gown with a long shawl hanging over the shoulders.

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The two-piece outfit by Evelyn Sagbay is the most wearable outside of a runway setting. It consists of a teal pencil skirt and denim top. While elegant in its simplicity, the uneven hem of the top could have been repeated elsewhere in the ensemble in the interest of balance.

Kathy Christensen’s dress is a lacy black and gold confection that lay elegantly against the body. One of my favorites, this dress in particular seems like a doll’s costume, certain to steal the limelight from its wearer. This makes sense when one realizes that Christensen previously worked as designer and product developer for porcelain dolls. Christensen’s experience is evident because though it is the most extravagant of the five dresses, it forms a cohesive whole.

Tara Ellis contributed an interesting black and teal dress featuring feather embellishments, and a long bustle and train. The plunging neckline seems extreme, almost tacky, and the train ungainly--falling as it does several inches past the feet. Nonetheless it was undeniably eye-catching, attracting the attention of several passersby.

Melania Plasko’s single-strapped black dress covered in ropey olive green braid and tetrahedrons reminiscent of Lady Gaga’s crystalline costumes. While the snake-like quality of the braids was intriguing, the craftsmanship is distracting. The tetrahedrons are peeling-off, exposing the glue underneath.

Overall this was a very enjoyable exhibit. It succeeds in challenging the viewer to consider the potential repurposed materials as well as unconventional venues, and it has left me inspired to try my own hand at recycling second-hand fabrics.

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