Mad River Union
ARCATA HIGH – As the stress of school begins to subside for most high school overachievers, the hard-working artists of the Arcata Arts Institute (AAI) are gearing up for the most stressful event of their year. The ninth annual Flow fashion show, touted as the “premier fashion event of the year for Humboldt County,” takes the Arcata Theater Lounge stage this Saturday, May 24.
Flow is a final year-end showcase for AAI. It is organized, designed, advertised and modeled by students. “It’s all you. They let you design what you want and create what you want. It’s all your vision,” said designer Alex Harris.
Each designer in Flow creates their own line of four to six outfits with their own inspirations, theme and music. Designer Janessa Johnson chose the theme of fire. “It’s called ‘Inferno,’ and each piece is based on a different phase of fire,” she explained.
The music is picked by the designers to complement their line, and the constant switch from genre to genre is a captivating addition to the show. “A lot of the lines are actually inspired by the music. It gives an atmosphere and a mood for each line, which is very important to showcase the clothing,” said music director Carson McHaney.
The designers have been learning the artistic tools necessary in AAI for years, but the Flow experience forces them to grow far beyond artistic talent alone. They develop time- and resource-management skills characteristic of professional fashion designers, expand their leadership experience, and learn how to work and communicate with others in a way not many can. “Every aspect of it becomes a collaborative experience. And collaboration is kind of the heartbeat of AAI,” said AAI director and founder Anne Bown-Crawford.
Flow doesn’t only teach collaboration, it teaches how to work with people differing in passions, styles, talents, and interests. “The visual arts kids design the outfits, theater students model and stage manage, media students design the programs and take the pictures, and music students handle the music,” Bazard explained. “In a way, it showcases how multi-talented our group is because everyone can contribute by doing what they’re good at.”
Programs like AAI are few and far between. “The thing that I think people may not contextually understand is that this is a really rich program in a rural public school. We are recognized on a state and national level for our exemplary curriculum,” Bown-Crawford stated. Designer Vivian Harp agrees, “There isn’t really anything else like it in the school.”
Flow especially provides students with real world skills. “It’s a chance to use what you’ve been learning all year in an applicable way. It gives a taste of what using art skills in the real world or in a career is really like,” Bazard explained.
Programs like AAI and Flow shatter the stereotype of the apathetic, lazy teenager. “It enriches the whole creativity of our community,” said designer Olivia Houghton.
A program so beneficial to both students and community would not be possible without local involvement and support. This capstone event is a benefit for the Arcata Arts Institute. Tickets for Flow are available at Hot Knots, 898 G St. on the Arcata Plaza and at the door of the Arcata Theatre Lounge the evening of the event.
Doors open at 7:30 p.m., the runway show at 8 p.m. and the event will conclude with a reception allowing guests to meet the designers and other artists and see the garments up close.