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In New Zealand, the World of Wearable Art (WOW) competition is an enormous art spectacle that challenges artists, designers, and makers of all types to explore the boundary between fashion and art – and to “get art off the walls and onto the body.” The design competition is internationally recognized and attracts hundreds of entries from around the world, culminating in a live runway show in front of an audience of more than 50,000. This stage performance is breathtaking – and its impressive energy and display of creative brilliance have made it the sensation that it is today.

“Wearable art (or The World of Wearable Art) is the spectacular intersection of art, fashion and theater,” explained Frances Nelson McSherry, Teaching Professor in CAMD’s Department of Theatre and professional costume designer. “The artists use a variety of unconventional materials in unusual ways to create expressionistic sculptural forms to be worn on the human body. These elaborate creations go beyond the definitions of costume and couture – they are three dimensional art forms conceived and constructed by artists, designers, engineers, artisans, and visionaries.”

Recently, the wonder of WOW became a whole lot more local for students at Northeastern, when they brought an exhibition of their work to the Peabody Essex Museum. The special exhibit, on display through June 11, presents 32 ensembles of the competition’s most unique, spectacular and outlandish wearable artworks. Even closer to home, while here in Eastern Massachusetts, WOW representatives visited campus to meet people across CAMD. Since WOW applies to many disciplines and areas related to the College – from 3D design to the maker space to theatre, costume design, and more – the meeting allowed them to introduce their program and the opportunities to compete to a range of CAMD students. The visit gave these students from various programs and majors a chance to be engaged in a unique event that may have previously been viewed as out of reach.

As a result of this on-campus meeting, and in an effort to strengthen WOW’s local connections, a group of CAMD students and faculty had the chance to take a group field trip to the exhibit and explore the amazing sights first-hand.

A few student takeaways from the adventure:

“Being able to see the pieces from WOW in person was a thrilling experience. Most costume work is based on a show, or a particular fashion era, and that work is great and rewarding in its own way, but there is something unique about WOW because it is simply art for art’s sake using the human body as a canvas. To see the incredible technique, the stunning inspiration, and the dedication behind each piece was awe-inspiring. I hope to compete in WOW myself someday soon.” – Kelley Shephard, CAMD student

“The most interesting part of the exhibit to me was that it flipped my expectations of what it means for a piece of artwork to be wearable. I always thought wearable meant clothes but at the exhibit there was an outfit made from one sheet of aluminum folded around several that only rested on the wearer’s shoulders and others that were just as amazing.” – Raven Guenneguez, CAMD student

As you can see, the trip was exhilarating – and it inspired further on-campus involvement surrounding WOW to occur, as the group builds up its Boston presence. With that said, if you would like to get more involved with this movement, now is your chance! Come to the meeting on April 20, in the Ryder Hall Theatre Lab (Room 334) at 1:30 p.m. to discuss opportunities and next steps.

Need more reason to get involved? Just check out these photos: