“Doragon” by Beth Bolander, modeled by Dani Gross, at the Wearable Art Show at Centennial Hall on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018. Doragon placed third in the Juror’s Best in Show. It also drew criticism as cultural appropriation, which led to some guidelines for this year’s fashion show. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

“Doragon” by Beth Bolander, modeled by Dani Gross, at the Wearable Art Show at Centennial Hall on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018. Doragon placed third in the Juror’s Best in Show. It also drew criticism as cultural appropriation, which led to some guidelines for this year’s fashion show. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Controversy leads to changes for 2019 Wearable Art fashion show

Sensitivity guidelines and originality clause part of introductory presentation

Turbulence is shaping Wearable Arts 2019.

The word is the theme for the 19th annual celebration of creativity.

“When life get turbulent, we want to go out and take a stand,” said Wearable Art director Margeaux Ljunberg. “Art can also be a way to help the audience escape.”

The word also has a personal connection to Ljunberg, as stated in her vision statement for Wearable Art 2019. She has motion sickness but attempts to embrace the turbulance during air travel in an effort to avoid cultivating fearfulness in her daughter and to pass on coping skills.

A turbulent response to elements of last year’s event also inspired some changes for this year, said organizers during Wearable Art introductory meeting Tuesday evening at the Juneau Arts & Culture Center.

There were many who felt a piece last year inspired by Asian art and culture was an example of cultural appropriation. The criticism led to a statement from the Juneau Arts & Humanities Council Board of Trustees, public meetings and now rule changes and suggested guidelines.

[Cultural inspiration or cultural appropriation?]

There is a new originality clause that requires submitted work be at least 85 percent unique creation and guidance for pieces that may be inspired by ethnic, racial or cultural heritage different from that of the artist.

Recommendations for artists included researching the culture that inspired the piece, consulting or collaborating with members of the inspiring culture, considering how art reflects the culture and the artist’s relationship with it and determining steps that will be taken to make sure there is a respectful and responsible collaboration.

Ljunberg and producer Meghan Chambers also advised participants raise any concerns about their piece and how it might be received early in the process.

“If you’re worried your piece could be controversial, get those conversations started,” Chambers said.

Another change for this year is a 30-entry cap on participants.

“This is in response to last year’s show creeping up to three hours, which was too much for everybody” Chambers said.

Registration for Wearable Art 2019 is currently open, and applications can be found online at: https://jahc.org/wearable-art-2019/

Applications must be turned in by 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1.

“We’re going to be sticklers about the deadline this year,” Ljunberg said.

Tickets for the show will go on sale for Juneau Arts & Humanities Council members Dec. 1 and to the general public Jan. 15.

Performances will be 8 p.m. Saturday Feb. 16 and 3 p.m. Sunday Feb. 17 at Centennial Hall.


• Contact arts and culture reporter Ben Hohenstatt at 523-2243 or bhohenstatt@juneauempire.com.


Controversy leads to changes for 2019 Wearable Art fashion show

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