Long, flowing dresses, shorter eveningwear with protruding spikes and stylish trains curving around the backs of outfits were all on display at Anchorage Museum on Saturday, Nov. 9.
While there were a variety of garments — all created by high school students — each had one aspect in common.
Everything was made out of paper products.
KPB Architects put on the first “pupil + paper” contest as a way to raise funds for The Children’s Lunchbox, which provides meals to at-risk students.
Six years ago, KPB stopped throwing its annual Christmas party and instead decided to donate funds back to the community, said Jeff Koonce, one of the company’s founders.
“That’s just a waste of money,” he said of the office celebration.
This year was the first time KPB partnered with the Anchorage School District. Koonce said the firm wanted a unique competition and came up with using paper as a medium.
The art project was full of challenges, said Chugiak High senior Sierra Armstrong.
“I’ve never worked with paper,” she said. “We had to hand make every piece.”
Armstrong and fellow Chugiak senior Haley Shaw earned second prize and will share a $3,000 scholarship for their dress, which featured dozens of sharp triangles on the front and a long, feather-like train.
Both fiction fans, the armor-like front of the dress was inspired by a warrior and the back is representative of a fallen angel, Armstrong said.
Fitting every piece together was no easy task.
“It’s like a puzzle,” Armstrong said.
For the past two months, the duo worked on their project — all of it outside of school hours.
“Every spare moment we had went into it,” Shaw said.
Transporting their creation was another hurdle. The concern over the dress’ size and fragility was multiplied by Saturday’s slick road conditions.
Both girls secured their project in the back seat of a vehicle the whole drive to downtown Anchorage.
“We had to hold it the entire time,” Armstrong said.
“It was pretty nerve-racking,” Shaw added.
Eagle River High’s Katie McCloud needed a U-Haul to move her approximately 7-foot-tall project to the museum.
McCloud put in countless hours working solo on her Marie-Antoinette-inspired, full-length dress with a long train.
“I probably stayed up until two in the morning every night,” she said.
McCloud said she wanted her piece to reflect a costume that could have been worn in one of Shakespeare’s plays.
“I wanted to emphasize drama,” she said. “I love that style. It’s gorgeous and classy.”
Creating the head, complete with wig-like hair, was the most difficult part, McCloud said.
“The first time I made it, it broke,” she said.
The project was completely foreign for McCloud.
“I’ve never done anything like this,” she said. “Not even 3-D.”
But it’s one endeavor McCloud said she’s glad she undertook.
“It was just too cool to pass up,” she said.
Local high-schoolers accounted for six of the 17 pieces on display. The top three winners earned scholarships.
Aside from being restricted to using paper products, artists weren’t permitted to add any color to their designs. Chugiak’s Viola Armitstead and Joey Denney used magazines to create one of the few multicolored pieces.
The “pupil + paper” event was a success, Koonce said. KPB will most likely come up with a new fundraiser next year, he said, but bringing back the unusual contest is a real possibility.
As for the students’ artwork, “Absolutely fabulous,” he said. “I’m glad I’m not a judge.”
Contact Mike Nesper at 694-2727 or [email protected].