With only two hours, Architect Lara Presber created a dress from tinfoil for a fashion show hosted at The Bay downtown. Photo by: Kelly Hofer Studios
When Lara Presber was a child, she spent afternoons in the garage building go-karts with her engineer dad, while sewing creations with her artist mom.
It’s no surprise, then, that she did not choose one career, but two.
The Boston-trained architect and Italian-trained fashion designer says, for her, the mixture of the two is simply a way of life — “I don’t think about the breakdown of art and science.”
The 40-year-old Calgarian, now with a studio in Victoria Park, is a clear example of what movement co-founders Jay Ingram and Mary Ann Moser were looking to highlight during the inaugural five-day Beakerhead event, which starts Wednesday.
Science journalist Ingram (a former host of CBC Radio’s Quirks and Quarks and Discovery Channel’s Daily Planet) says the pair had grown tired of all the talk about innovation and the melding of art, science and engineering.
“It was time for no more talk — show, don’t tell.”
Beakerhead, billed as “the most amazing convergence of art, science and engineering,” will do exactly that. While there will be a giant spider, graffiti-drawing robots, art cars, an engineering competition with teams from around the world, astronauts, i-Robot theatre, the Raygun gothic rocket, networking, an art walk — and more — there will also be people such as Presber, who live the creative mix of science and art every day.
“Architecture is simply art with rules. It is not a big shift to go into fashion design — especially when you realize there is a very technical side to creating clothing,” she says.
A building goes from a flat two-dimensional drawing into a three-dimensional creation. In sewing, there are scientific transfers of measurements onto paper and then to three-dimensional clothing pieces.
“Clothes are very much ‘engineered,’ ” said Presber, who will present Speakerhead on Building Fashion, Thursday at noon at the downtown public library as part of Beakerhead.
And just as buildings are all about structure, so, she says, is clothing — “That is what makes a woman look great in an outfit, no matter her size: the proper structure of the garment.”
Inaugural Beakerhead events start in Calgary on Wednesday (many are free), partly because both Ingram and Moser are based here, but also because the city is the centre of engineering in Canada, and could handle another top-notch event on its calendar.
And while any mention of science seems to scare some people off, Ingram emphasizes that Beakerhead is all about entertainment and “you don’t need third-year calculus” to enjoy it.
Events around Beakerhead are geared to every demographic: the Telus Spark Adult night (Thursday); a rock/opera performance featuring Chris Hadfield, the former commander of the International Space Station, who played his guitar in space, Ingram’s band The Famous Scientists, an opera singer/physicist and drummers all performing in the Tremendous and Curious World of Beakerhead (Friday night); and a catapult competition (Catharsis Catapults), which will see “love or hate” items hurtle through the air in a test of tension release (Sunday).
And there are opportunities to give young people an idea of what science, engineering and art can offer them as careers.
Native American and former NASA astronaut John Bennett Herrington will speak to Aboriginal youth in Calgary and at surrounding reserves about his time in space; engineering students from around the world will compete in the Shell International Engineering Competition; and students will be demonstrating their own art car and art bike designs.
By Christina Kuntz, Calgary Herald November 6, 2012
It began as a fun way to raise money for programs at The Art Gallery of Calgary.
Ten years later, Elizabeta Liguric says ARTwear has become one of the gallery’s biggest events.
“It really has grown,” says the manager of development at the gallery.
“We’ve had such great support from the community, and every year we try to do something different and stretch our limits by doing something creative that we haven’t done before.”
This year, Liguric says they plan to mark the 10-year-anniversary of their annual fashion fundraiser with a special celebration on Thursday night.
As with previous years, they’ll be showcasing the work of students from the Alberta College of Art and Design (ACAD), who have created wearable art designs around this year’s ARTwear theme – vintage Hollywood.
But Liguric says this is the first time those designs will be featured on the main runway at Hotel Arts.
“We’ve been collaborating with ACAD for six years,” says Liguric, “and we wanted to switch things up a bit and try to showcase the students more this year.
“Fashion is a form of expression and it’s definitely an art form, and these students use a lot of different materials and come up with some really innovative forms of art.”
As well as featuring those designs on the runway, the gallery also decided to bring in some top Calgary designers for this year’s ARTwear.
Paul Hardy and Lara Presber will be presenting their latest collections, along with styles from local boutiques including Mealan Women’s Finery, Leo Boutique, Coco + Violet and Henry Singer.
Presber, whose studio combines fashion, architecture and interior design, is a big supporter of the arts and says she was happy to take part in this year’s special show.
“I really believe in what the art gallery is doing, especially now,” says Presber.
“This year, there’s so much more awareness of the arts (with Calgary) being the cultural capital of Canada, and Calgary is really on the international radar, so I think it’s important to find ways to be on the map for cultural, educational, and art-based programs, as opposed to just our international notoriety for oil and gas.”
In addition to a sneak peek of her upcoming summer collection, Presber will be showing designs from her fall collection, which was inspired by The Bow building.
Featuring structured and asymmetrical styles and an emphasis on the colour navy, the collection has a classic, “1940s Paris” feel that Presber says fits in well with ARTwear’s vintage Hollywood theme.
“Classic is always in style,” she says. “It transcends different fashion movements or trends.”
Though the focus of the fundraiser is to celebrate the art of fashion, Liguric says there is more to ARTwear than beautiful designs and a fun night out.
The purpose of the event is to raise money for the gallery’s art education programs, and the night will also include a silent auction featuring prizes that range from sports items to an astronaut-training experience.
“This event allows us to expand our art education programs,” says Liguric.
“We have an in-house school where we can host children, and we have educators and teachers that come in for workshops. We also have an outreach program, which means that our teachers go to the schools and they do their art workshops there.
“Currently, we’re looking to find ways to provide transportation for schools that can’t afford to come to the gallery. So we’re hoping that with the money we raise from this year’s fundraiser, we can somehow sponsor those schools and get more kids into the gallery.”
ARTwear will be held on Thursday, Nov. 8, at Hotel Arts (119 12th Ave. S.W.).
Doors open at 7: 30 p.m. and tickets are available at artwear.zoobis.com. For more information on the event, go to artgallerycalgary.org.