To Sonya Darrow, fashion and art are inseparable.
The thrift artist-in-residence at Goodwill of the Heartland who works under the name LADYFITS has created modern interpretations of traditional Czech folk costumes.
Her work will be featured with a lecture, films and question-and-answer session on Saturday as part of the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library’s reopening festivities.
“The Czech and Slovak culture really inspires a lot of what I do with textiles and with my personal style and with my mindset of sustainability. I think the Czechs and Slovaks with their folk art always believed in taking something that might be falling apart (and) making it beautiful again,” she says.
Her work will be on display throughout the Czech Village. But these aren’t just museum pieces. She wears elements of each outfit — many of which come from area Goodwill stores — on an everyday basis. Her creations are walking oral history pieces.
“A lot of the materials I use were donated to me by people who have Czech backgrounds or are from the Czech Village area,” she says.
“I see a doily on the table and I instantly think of a May Day headdress,” she says.
Using everyday materials, like old dish towels, is a theme throughout her folk dress exhibition.
“I like to take things you just wouldn’t expect putting on yourself or connect even to a folk dress,” says Darrow, who created a skirt from a mop without altering it.
In fact, Darrow uses origami-like folds so she won’t damage a garment and it can be donated back to Goodwill.
“Instead of just thinking of what I am going to do with it now, I always think to the next steps of that textile’s life,” she says.
- What: “Resourceful Expressions through Folk Dress” by Sonya Darrow
- When: Noon Saturday
- Where: National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library, Cedar Rapids
- Details: Darrow will discuss the influences of Cedar Rapids’ Czech and Slovak heritage and her own cultural identity on her designs along with showing films of her process in creating the clothes followed by a question and answer session.
- Extra: Following the lecture Darrow will have an open studio at P.J.’s Czech Shop, 76 16th Ave. SW, and her interpretations of Czech and Slovak folk clothes will be on display Saturday and Sunday in an installation in storefronts along 16th Avenue.
- Cliff Jette