A model showcases a wearable art headpiece at a fashion show hosted by DePaul artists Collective in the atrium of the Lincoln Park Student Center on Friday evening. (Lily Lowndes)
A model showcases a wearable art headpiece at a fashion show hosted by DePaul artists Collective in the atrium of the Lincoln Park Student Center on Friday evening.

Lily Lowndes

Celebrating art at DePaul – DePaul Artists Collective presents Wearable Art Exhibition

October 23, 2022

Audrey Dwyer knows a lot of talented people. She wanted to use her presidency of DePaul Artists Collective (DAC) to create opportunities for the talented student artists at the university.

With that goal in mind, Dwyer and the other members of DAC created the inaugural Wearable Art Exhibition to celebrate the DePaul art community. Dozens of students participated in and watched the exhibition on Friday.

Dwyer was overcome with emotion after the event was finished. She was happy that the event came together with so many skillful artists, designers and their supporters.

“I did this out of love, which sounds so lame but I don’t know,” Dwyer said. “I’m friends with so many talented people and I just wanted to make something for them, throw a party for them.”

Sebastian Berrocal Ortega (left) and Andre Lopez (right) pose with their conceptual wearable art pieces. (Lily Lowndes)

Student performers, artists and models showcased wearable art including sparkly shirts, strappy pants, headgear, nature-inspired jewelry, Chucky dolls and lizard masks.

Dwyer organized the exhibition in the student center with other members of DAC to uplift the art created at DePaul. It is a part of DAC’s mission to explore different genres of art and foster an artistic community at DePaul.

“I was inspired by, well, two things,” Dwyer said. “The Art School here is amazing, and I feel like it’s really the underdog of DePaul. I feel like we don’t have as many opportunities even though students are so talented and the staff is so amazing.”

Dwyer wanted to make sure the exhibition was open to all types of art, including performances. Students sang original songs, performed in drag, danced and presented other art in between the wearable art showcases.

“I really wanted to make an interdisciplinary community,” Dwyer said. “I feel like all of us are so separate. There’s the Theatre School and the [School of Music], and then there’s the Art School, but I want us to collaborate, and so I wanted to bring these people together.”

Sebastian Berrocal Ortega, an exchange student from Peru, modeled his wearable art at the exhibition.

Audrey Dwyer’s shows off her hand- painted, Henri Matisse-inspired pants. (Lily Lowndes)

Berrocal Ortega designed a larger-than-life oblong headpiece inspired by the cages beekeepers use to separate the queen bee from the hive. He wore the wooden box over his head, a metal cage hanging over his face. The piece was a part of a larger project that he was working on back home in Peru.

“The theme was individualism, you know, the queen separating from the collective,” Berrocal Ortega said.

Andre Lopez used their wearable art to express how they feel as a nonbinary person. They created a bodysuit with metal ornaments that was tight and sharp to the touch.

“It’s meant to be about dysphoria and how it makes you kind of change your body, like dream things or want to hide things and sometimes adjust things,” Lopez said. “It’s just like trying to change the body, trying to find a body I feel comfortable with. I have a lot of stress and [anxiousness] because I don’t feel like I am me.”

Berrocal Ortega said he was thankful to the organizers of the event and wanted to see DePaul champion similar events in the future.

“It was a pretty cool event and I hope the university keeps supporting these kinds of events,” Berrocal Ortega said.

Dwyer hosted the event to emphasize the work of DePaul art students. (Lily Lowndes)

Lopez emphasized the importance of fostering a community of artists at DePaul.

“It’s really cool to see how the same students organized these kinds of activities for other students,” Lopez said. “I really love that. I think it’s really important, artists supporting other artists.”

Jax Fink, a senior and the treasurer of DAC, helped sell art at the exhibition’s vendor table. When artists signed up for the exhibition, they could also sign up to have wearable and non-wearable art sold at a booth near the runway.

Fink owns their own jewelry business and enjoyed selling their earrings along with other students’ art.

“I was at the vendor table and I found that really fun, watching people interact with other DePaul artists or get to wear other DePaul artists’ stuff,” Fink said. 

Other organizations may charge artists extra fees to sell their art at events, so DAC wanted to allow students to sell at a price point they want, with no extra fees. This ensured that the artists were paid what their art is worth.

After students priced their items, DAC added an additional 20% on top that would go back to the organization.

Dwyer said DAC would use the proceeds to create a workshop for students.

“We wanted to raise money tonight so that we could do a ceramics workshop or something working with clay,” Dwyer said.

Madeline Zawada, communications chair of DAC, said that anyone who is interested can take part in DAC. There is no official membership to the collective. People can come and go as they want, attending whichever events they are able or interested in.

“The best way to join is to just follow us and see what we’re up to,” Zawada said.

DAC posts about their events on Instagram, @depaulartistscollective, and on GroupMe, which students can join using the Linktree in their bio. The Wearable Art Exhibition is also available to rewatch on DAC’s Instagram page.

In addition to a potential ceramics workshop, the collective is planning a gallery exhibition for next year, group outings and more opportunities for vendor tables.

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