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Exhibit in Sewickley to show art always is in fashion

| Wednesday, May 1, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Kristina Serafini | Sewickley Herald
Artist Kari Zuzack models a piece she designed for her upcoming exhibit at Sweetwater Center for the Arts, 'Lost and Found: Sustainable High Fashion' at Sweetwater in Sewickley Friday, April 26, 2013.

Kari Zuzack has “nailed” her submissions for the latest exhibit at Sweetwater Center for the Arts in Sewickley.

The outfits she designed and created, which include nails as one of the main features, will be included in the center's first “Lost and Found: Sustainable High Fashion” show, which is scheduled from Saturday through May 31.

The show, which will include a reception starting at 7 p.m. and fashion show at 8 p.m. on Saturday, focuses on repurposed and “upcycled” elements for high fashion.

The exhibit juror is LaMont Jones Jr., fashion editor, past judge for the Council of Fashion Designers of America Awards, co-creator of Pittsburgh Fashion Week and member of Pittsburgh Fashion Hall of Fame.

“We have decided to do the fashion show slightly different than usual,” said Elysia Cecchetti, Sweetwater artistic director.

During the reception, Sweetwater will host an informal modeling session, a type of fashion display in which the designer and/or model personally showcases the artwork the night of the exhibition.

“The artist and/or model will have the option to be a freeze model and pose on a pedestal or mingle with guests showcasing the designs and answering any questions one may have,” said Cecchetti, who hopes to make the show an annual or biannual event.

Zuzack of Slippery Rock, Sweetwater administrative and business assistant, said she has created two pieces for the show. The first features deconstructed lighting fixtures, a coffee-bean bag, a curtain, nails and a tealight holder in the design of a floor length skirt over a top with a necklace.

The second, which she said she still is working on, is another dress incorporating black, olive green and silver colors and made from a curtain in a material that's almost like plastic chicken wire. It also features a deconstructed candleholder, lighting fixture parts and coffee stirrers.

The skirt likely will be draped, with the metal and nails giving it a slightly punk/grunge feel.

She said she is working to incorporate a “feminine-with-an-edge feel” for both pieces.

“I love the mix of the feminine shape and the edginess of the nails, lighting fixture parts and moody colors of the skirt in the pieces.”

Her original idea for the designs, which she tried on herself instead of using a dress form every step of the way, came from the contrast of light and dark, which she thinks can be interpreted in several different ways.

“It could be literal light and darkness, or more abstract concepts, such as the rational versus emotional mind or public versus private self,” she said.

Zuzack, 25, who is in the process of moving to Bloomfield, said most of her practice for pieces like those included in the show came from her own Halloween costumes she had made the past few years — Ziggy Stardust, Poison Ivy and a Catrina, which is a traditional figure associated with the Mexican holiday Day of the Dead.

Zuzack said she always has loved art. She was encouraged by her parents to be creative from a young age.

She began studying fashion design at Kent State University. and ended up earning a bachelor's degree in communication and art from Slippery Rock University, where she wrote a fashion column for the university's student newspaper.

Mostly now, she said, her art is just a hobby.

“The majority of my artwork was done just because I have fun making art. The process can be frustrating and stressful sometimes, but ideas develop because of those feelings, especially in this case with the requirement of using repurposed material,” she said.

Joanne Barron is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-324-1406 or

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