Recycle Runway Blog

My Spring 2015 Trashion Show Grand-Slam Published: 05.28.2015 at 3:19 pm by Nancy Judd

Schack Art Center in  Everett, WA

Schack Art Center in Everett, WA

I was recently honored by being asked to emcee and show work in three trash-fashion shows across the great Pacific Northwest! Last summer I moved from Santa Fe, NM (my home for the last 20 years) to Portland, OR, where I grew up. It is great to be back in the climate that my body feels most comfortable in, and it’s exciting to discover new opportunities for my work in Oregon and Washington. Both states are renowned for their progressive sustainability efforts, and there is a lot of creative re-use, trash fashion, and innovative environmental education taking place here. Quite honestly, I did not know if there was room for another kid in the sand box, but I have been overwhelmed by the warm welcome I have received!

Upcycled Oregon in the State Capital

Upcycled Oregon in the State Capital

This spring started off with a bang at the Oregon State Capital in Salem where I emceed at a new event called Upcycle Oregon, created to raise awareness around resource use and waste reduction activities. The two day event began with a dynamic panel discussion featuring a diverse group of people that work with waste materials across Oregon. For example, Scott Hamlin is the co-founder/CEO of Loopworks which makes products and apparel out of industry scrap and waste materials such as old Southwest Airline seat covers. I really like this company because in addition to upcycling materials, they also design their products to be very durable and to be educational– as they state on their website: Only 1% of everything that’s purchased in the USA, is still in the USA after 6 months. That is an alarming statistic! Also on the panel was Mark Rumford with a company named Agilyx that is the first in the world to install commercial scale technology that turns waste plastics into refinery grade synthetic crude oil. That might not sound very exciting, but actually it’s a big deal because they can use the plastics that most recycling programs can’t take, which amounts to more than 75% of the plastics produced and usually landfilled. Their oil is recycled into plastic manufacturing feedstock or converted to transport fuels. I have grave concerns about the environmental and human health impacts of the huge amount of plastic we use and think we should focus on reducing our use of this material, especially single use items. However, like it or not our world is saturated with plastic and it is imperative to have a way to recycle it because not only does recycling keep it out of the landfills, but it also reduces the amount of oil we have to mine/refine.

This interesting panel was followed by an upcycled art exhibition, and then concluded with a trashion show the next day that showcased numerous new and seasoned designers. This was the first recycled fashion show that I have ever emceed in a state capital; it was a grand backdrop for the entire event and it felt significant to have our work honored in such an important historical and political location. I want to thank Carlee Wright from DIY Studio and and Jessica Ramey from Marion County who organized the upcycled art and fashion show, for inviting me to participate. DIY Studio is a neat organization that promotes creative, community and environmental awareness through teaching alternative approaches to creating art and diverting materials from the solid-waste stream.

Ruby Re-Usable  with her fantastic models Lana, Lova and Lena Landfill.

Ruby Re-Usable with her fantastic models Lana, Lova and Lena Landfill.

Three weeks later I emceed a second trashion show at the Schack (pronounced shack!) Art Center in Everett, WA held in conjunction with an impressive exhibition titled Saving the Environment: Sustainable Art. This was a fun event for me because I met several experienced designers from Washington who have also been working with waste materials for many years. One of these, Ruby Re-Usable,  is the colorful designer who organized the fashion show. Some of the other designers were Rebecca Maxim aka Alotta DeTritus, Jane Grafton aka Tinker’s Dam, and Kristie Maxim aka Elle Poubelle. I really enjoyed not only their creative names and impressive designs, but also the presentation and staging of their fashions. Susie Howell, an amazing photographer as well as designer of wearable upcycled fashions, hosted my spouse and me in her beautiful historic Marysville home!

One of the many high points of this experience was meeting artist Terra Holcomb. I recommend you take a moment to look at her work; she is very, very inspiring to me. Terra works exclusively with natural materials and makes ephemeral pieces that she wears for self portraits. In fact, the resulting piece of art is the photo because she leaves the garments to decompose back into nature. One of her few pieces that still exists, a magestic oceanic gown made from muscle shells, was one of the featured designs of the evening.


Washington State Recycling Association Conference

My Trashion Show Grand-Slam ended at the Washington State Recycling Association’s conference in Spokane, WA. Fashion show organizer, Abby Christensen invited me to join emcee Terra Heilman on stage at the elegant Davenport Hotel. I met yet another set of very talented designers and really enjoyed my time with the fun and dedicated group of Washington recyclers. As the previous executive director of the New Mexico Recycling Coalition, I was right at home with them and happy to have found my peeps.

Though I usually don’t participate in many trashion shows anymore, I had a great time at these events. (Most of my work these days revolves around creating new sculptures for my installation in the Atlanta Airport in 2017, and giving presentations and workshops to universities and various audiences.) It was like a door opened and I felt so welcomed this spring to Oregon and Washington by my colleagues in the upcycled art/fashion and waste reduction community, I’m so excited to become a part of these dynamic and warm-hearted groups!

I’m in the process of dreaming up some exciting new projects for my upcoming Atlanta exhibition with a number of local west coast groups including some the folks that I met at these events, so stay tuned for more details.

POST SCRIPT: I am writing this blog post while sitting on a train traveling back to Portland from Spokane, enjoying an absolutely beautiful ride along the Columbia River. As the train travels from the high desert climate of eastern Washington where Spokane is located, my heart swells at the site of the emerald green forests of the west side of this region. I longed for this land during the almost 30 years I lived outside of the Northwest, and find that, even now, after a short time away in a dryer area, I yearn for the moist climate my body was born to.


Dawn over the Columbia River, from the train to Portland


Emerald green views of the Pacific Northwest

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