Hands-On Haute Couture in the Junction

From beading to working with hide and hair, “Textile and fashion endeavours are followed by a huge number of locals,” says Heiko Hähnsen. He’s the director of the Junction Arts and Music, or JAM, an organization that “nurtures the arts”, according to its website, and is hosting Haines Junction’s first Hands-On Craft Weekend.

Given that traditional textile and fashion endeavours are followed by many people who live in and around Haines Junction, it’s not surprising that the JAM’s first artist-in-residence is a fashion designer. The motto of designer Jacquelyn van Kampen’s residency is, “Sewing Through a Landscape.”

The craft weekend could be a first step in linking traditional crafts with haute couture. “There are only five fashion-oriented artistic residencies in the world and haute couture fashion designer Brenda Asp already lives in our community,” Hähnsen points out. “It’s exciting to think we could put Haines Junction on a world map for something so unexpected like fashion.”

To give artists such as Asp and van Kampen an opportunity to interact with locals, JAM organizers came up with the festival format for the weekend.

Van Kampen will share techniques on pattern drafting and origami to create clothing with unique folds.

Her relation, local artist and scholar of Yukon First Nation fashions, Ukjese van Kampen, will present research in three workshops – early Yukon fashion, floral bead designs, and changes influenced by contact over the course of time. Ukjese took up the study of Yukon First Nation art styles in high school and continued his research through a master’s degree and doctorate. It brought him to the study of fashion “since the art was on the clothing,” he says.

The workshop Canvas as Fabric will be presented by Kuentina. She will show how to create everything from the hottest of high-tops to the hippest of hoodies. Kuentina is the owner of the clothing brand Qaqtis, which is based out of British Columbia, and is currently on display at Arts Underground.

Locally-renowned artist and storyteller Rhoda Merkel inherited from her mother and grandmother a lifelong passion for beading, regalia, and paint. She will pass on her knowledge in free workshops for children and youth. Merkel will tell tales of creation, and then help participants re-create images from the tales on to pillowcases.  They will create “their own dreamworld to take home,” says Merkel.

Jutta Holtkamp, owner of the Calgary-based École Holt Couture, a school of couture sewing and design, will be in attendance. Artists wishing to learn ways in which their art can progress will have the chance to speak with her.

The craft weekend is also a chance for vendors to set up tables in a marketplace. Trappers, geologists, and gatherers can buy a spot in the marketplace. It’s an opportunity for them to build new relationships with artists looking for suppliers. Vendor places are still available for jewellers and clothing makers.

The weekend will host free street art and entertainment, evening campfires, and a three dimensional costume photo booth. On interpretive nature walks with artists, participants will learn how the land and its traditional uses – such as foraging for medicinal plants – translates into creative inspiration.

The festival takes place in Haines Junction at the Da Kų Cultural Centre from August 12-14. Aside from knowledge, most workshops offer a take-home element and materials are included in session fees.

Visit http://www.junctionjam.ca/tickets-information/ or www.yukontickets.com to buy tickets or register online. Visit the Little Green Apple grocery store, or FasGas, in Haines Junction, and Arts Underground or the Yukon Arts Centre in Whitehorse for weekend passes.

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