By Kathie Morris
This is the education issue. I liked math but I loved art. Learning to work with color, form and shapes, and to view things from different perspectives opened my eyes and my mind. In my teens, the arts programs were being considered for removal from the curriculum, as a means to balance the school budget. Thankfully that didn’t happen, but thinking about it helped me find this month’s subject: art as fashion… wearable art. I began to look for local artists who are turning their art in to fashion, it didn’t take long.
I met Kara Daviau a couple of years ago and was an immediate fan of her work. Her work with mixed media and texture and her use of abandoned areas and buildings as subject matter caught my eye instantly. I soon found out that she was also a teacher, which made her the first person I thought of for this article. Kara is an art teacher at Cicero-North Syracuse High School and North Syracuse Junior High School and part-owner of Wildflowers Armory. She has a BFA and Masters in Art Education, both from SU.
Kara has always loved art and fashion. She grew up in/around her mother’s vintage/consignment shop, and she even designed and sewed her own prom gown. She was inspired by her art teacher at North Syracuse Junior High, Mr. Sims. In ninth grade, Mr. Sims had Kara and other classmates paint a mural on the ceiling of their classroom. Amazingly, this is the same room that Kara teaches in today, and yes, the mural is still there! On a visit to her studio at the Delavan Center, I learned more about her process, and saw an assortment of her clothing and artwork. Kara makes images of her paintings, and has them screen printed on clothing. She then hand-paints each piece to make it unique. Currently, she is focusing on army jackets, jumpsuits, caps and sweatshirts, but she changes her garments as current fashion dictates.
Kara says she loves that her clothing makes it easy for kids to be able to access art on the cheap! Kara’s fashion can be purchased at Wildflowers Armory and seen on Instagram: @createdbykaradise and Facebook: Kara Daviau Studios.
Susan Mastine Fix is also an art teacher who has mixed her love of fashion and art into her craft. Susan went to private schools that didn’t have art programs, but loved to write. She soon discovered that illustrating her writings became a new passion. Encouraged by her father to “do what you love, the money will come later,” Susan went on to receive a BFA and Masters in Art Education from SUNY Oswego. Susan has taught art in the Syracuse and Liverpool school districts. She also worked with Hillbrook, Syracuse Hebrew Day School, Holy Cross and DeWitt Elementary School programs.
For the past six years Susan has been blending fashion and art. Clothing is her canvas, as she makes fabric paint embellishments in her own taste, on garments of all types. Pictured are two examples of Susan’s work. Contact Susan on Facebook: Susan Mastine Fix.
Margot Elizabeth Morse is another artist who has turned her talent into fashion. Since kindergarten, Margot loved to draw. She’s a self-taught artist who loves one-of-a-kind fashions. She lists designer Betsy Johnson as an inspiration, and considers Bob Ross’s “feel as you go idea” her motivation. She has had a lot of encouragement in her young life, and is especially thankful for the support she has received from the Syracuse community.
Margo uses only upcycled/thrift items for her fashion pieces and takes inspiration from things she sees in her daily life. For her clothing art pieces, she primarily paints with acrylics on leather, including the jacket shown here. Contact Margot on Instagram @unremorseful.art
All three of these artists do commissioned work and all have shown their fashions at Syracuse Fashion Week and Syracuse Style.
Consider adding a one-of-a-kind piece of wearable art to your wardrobe. Think how much fun you’ll have wearing it!
Kathie Morris owns The Changing Room, located at 425 South Warren St., Syracuse; (315) 299-4320. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Photos by Dennis Fernando; styling by Pastel Makeup and Style