Englert Theatre to host fashion exhibit

The Threads and Powders: An Iowan Fashion & Textile Exhibit at The Englert Theatre, produced and directed by YAZZIEWONPHON, will feature seven textile artists.


Anaka Sanders, Arts Reporter

Olive Phan, or better known as YAZZIEWONPHON in the art world, comes from a printmaking background. Two years ago, she learned that soft fabrics can be manipulated to change their composition with threads and powders, and began integrating her knowledge of printmaking with textile design.

“I want to create an event that showcases that specifically,” Phan said. “I want a lot of people to interact with those basic elements: threads and powders.”

And so Threads and Powders: An Iowan Fashion & Textile Exhibit was born, a composition of the works from seven local textile artists, soon to be on display at The Englert Theatre in the Douglas and Linda Paul Gallery.

Many artists featured in this exhibit also come from printmaking backgrounds, as well as sculpture and ceramics. Christian Woodruff, who received his BFA in sculpture from the University of Iowa in 2019, will show a piece that combines all three of the exhibit’s central theme requirements: sustainability, transformability, and opulence.

“If we can push to have sustainable things be viewed as opulent, I think that would be incredible,” he said.

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Sustainability is key for artist Jager Palad, as well. Before attending graduate school for printmaking at the UI, Palad worked as a technician for multiple department stores. While working, he saw warehouse floors of material going out to the landfill. He started collecting clothing and material in large amounts. UI sculpture professor Isabel Barbuzza taught him how to stiffen material, he said, merging his printmaking background with sculpture.

“I’m taking something that was originally soft, sensual, and personal, and making it the exact opposite. I’m making it hard and scaly,” Palad said.

Artist Jamin Shepherd spends his time weaving. His wife is a seamstress and a knitter who owned an unused loom. When he saw it, he felt the need to create art. He described himself as someone who is always aiming to be creative in one way or another.

“As I learned to work the loom and learned a little bit about weaving, and started making them, I found them really therapeutic,” Shepherd said. “I also found them to be a really wonderful exploration of my interest in colors.”

Originally there was going to be a fashion show along with the exhibit. That portion of the event has been pushed because of time constraints and funding issues.

“It was just a variety of things where I wasn’t able to get enough funding and people weren’t able to answer the call,” Phan said. “But I do not give up on those kinds of things. I have always wanted a fashion show, and fashion show there will be next year.”

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Phan said she wants to continue her plans for Threads and Powders through more exhibits, but also through a magazine. Her goal is to spotlight working and emerging artists from across the country who work with these basic elements.

The artists all seem to agree on what they are most excited for at the exhibit.

“I’m really excited to look at the other artists’ work. I think they’re all great artists,” Shepherd said.

Palad and Phan agreed, and Phan added that she’s particularly excited to explore the themes of the exhibit with other artists through their work.

“What I’m most excited about is talking about these things with these people and having those conversations between these artists, because I think that’s where the purpose of threads and powders start merging, is where people start seeing the blend, the relationship of how these disciplines kind of become mingled,” Phan said.