Art Seen: Art every wear

Photos courtesy of Michele Conti. “Beloved” is a gown constructed with red roses.

Photos courtesy of Michele Conti. “Beloved” is a gown constructed with red roses.

By Natasha Ala, for the Redoubt Reporter

Fashion-minded individuals, with an appreciation for imagination, will want to take note of a rare opportunity to experience live performance art when artist Enzina Marrari will “activate” her dresses, now on display at the Gary L. Freeburg Gallery at Kenai Peninsula College’s Kenai River Campus, in an exhibit entitled “Della Terra.” The performance will be part of a closing event for the exhibit, from 4:30 to 6 p.m. April 5 at KPC.

The creation of each garment was inspired by the personality and unique qualities of the individuals modeling the garments. Marrari collected objects from the environment that she felt best embodied the character of her models. Most of the materials used in the construction of the garments were gathered from the Alaska landscape by the artists.

Marrari says that some of her models were close friends and others became so in the process of creating the garments.

There is a sophisticated feel of elegance and grace to her work. In “Beloved,” she has fashioned hundreds of red roses together into an evening gown that resembles a “Breakfast at Tiffanies” ensemble reminiscent of a gown Audrey Hepburn might have worn.

“Winter Birch” consists of reconstructed canvas with birch tree charcoal painting.

“Drift” is a ballet-inspired piece incorporating driftwood.

Constructed out of stripped tree bark gathered from the beach at Point Woronzof after the big storms that blew down hundreds of trees last fall, Marrari has constructed a chic-looking ballerina outfit she titled “Drift.” Turning bark into a sophisticated garment presents not only aesthetic challenges but construction challenges, as well. Marrari has successfully mastered both, creating a classy garment that is well fabricated.

These garments were not created to be archival objects, but rather to be wearable or provisional pieces of art.

“‘Della Terra’ translates to ‘of the Earth,’ which identifies the thread of this exhibit — the ephemeral nature of the materials. The various garments are either made from material directly harvested from the Alaska landscape or reference some natural material that is largely impermanent, and as such, contains an element of unpredictability. The interest and beauty lay in the transition of the materials. As the elements dry, die or decay, the pieces change. They become reliant on the natural process of decomposition. I am fascinated by the beauty that evolves as something decomposes, deteriorates or breaks down, and this fascination has been a theme consistent throughout my career as an artist,” Marrari said of her exhibit.

A wildflower-draped.

Wildflowers for floral sweetness.

During the activation April 5, models will initiate a performance based on the concept of each of the garments. This one-night-only performance will be as ephemeral as the gowns — miss it and it will be gone. And as the closing reception for “Della Terra,” this is an opportunity for the audiences to meet the artist and view her magnificent creations up close and in person.

Natasha Ala has a bachelor’s degree in art and serves on the board of the Kenai Peninsula Art Guild. Ala also is the executive director of a Kenai Peninsula nonprofit organization.

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