VISUAL ARTS PREVIEW: Accessibility 2007: Green Revival Collection 

Green Road To Sumter: Charleston artists take part in the Green Revival

Accessibility 2007: Green Revival Collection
Sat. Oct. 20, 8-10 p.m.
Main Street Sumter, S.C.
Free
(803) 436-2260 or (803) 436-2616

Maintain a clip of 70 mph and you can make it to Sumter in less than two hours. After the interstate, it's a breezy trip of green fields and roaming streets that sliver through the scenic South Carolina midstate. Adrienne Antonson loves the drive. She's made it numerous times, including earlier this month, when she arrived for a residency as curator to Sumter's 10th annual Accessibility Project.

Upon graduating from the College of Charleston, Antonson founded Spinster Studio, a small business that incorporates environmental awareness into creating clothes, art, sculpture, and other accessories. So when Sumter's city planners decided sustainability would be this year's theme, Antonson was an ideal match. For months now she's been drumming up support for the big show in the little town, calling it the Green Revival Collection, corralling Charleston locals for what she's certain is a unique opportunity to display their work in a receptive, encouraging community.

The artists arrived last week and have taken up residence in a downtown studio. Their common goal is to use a variety of found materials and turn them into sculptural garments. They will work here through Oct. 20, when the completion of their efforts culminates in a grand finale. Until then, however, they are subject to an interesting circumstance, one that pitches them, and all their artistic tendencies, smack in the center of Sumter's curious gaze.

The idea is to remove art from its normal marketplace as finished product and showcase the creative process. Downtown foot traffic can now take a peek at what it means to make, say, a skirt from old lace and dried tea.

"I got all this lace from a woman in Charleston," Antonson explains. "She had boxes of it in her attic."

After cutting and sewing the lace together, Antonson fills areas of the skirt with dried tea.

"I've worked with tea in the past," she says, "and the concept seemed to work well with this piece, too."

The idea is to focus on sustainability, to transform an old product into something new, and to challenge the normal ideas of fashion and design.

"This lace is so beautiful, and it's impacted so many lives. The person who made it, the person who bought it, the person who wore it, and now here it is again, new."

And that's what this year's Green Revival Collection is about. Pulling people together, working in an environment that supports a common cause, and creating an interesting, thought-provoking body of work for all to enjoy. Artists from Louisiana, New York, and Charleston are participating. Locals will recognize Leigh Magar from Magar Hats as well as music by the indie rock band, A Decent Animal.

From Sumter's standpoint, the goal of this experiment is to foster fresh perspectives concerning art, to use new perspectives to challenge people about their environmental responsibilities, and to identify opportunities where collaboration and partnership can facilitate a stronger framework between creative arts programs and the community.

For the artists, it's a venue that combines the intimacy of a small town with the broad scope of an ambitious project. The result is a refreshing exchange of ideas and community, of eclectic art driven by the difficult and easily overlooked concern of wasteful consumerism.

But they're still having fun while doing it, as the grand finale will surely attest. A portion of Main Street will be closed this Saturday, giving space to the Wearable Art Show, planned to include a catwalk, music by Hope For A Golden Summer and A Decent Animal, runway performances, puppet shows, and food from local restaurants. The artists and the city planners are hoping for an excited crowd, bolstered by Charleston area support.

So if you want to enjoy some of the area's best artists working together in a vibrant community all for the good cause of environmental awareness, head up to Sumter this weekend. It's a green road all the way.


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