‘Art After Hours’ synthesizes sustainability and fashion in first event of yearlong series

A man sings into a microphone while a woman plays the drums behind him.
Student musicians performed at the Benton Museum of Art’s “Art After Hours” event. (Justin Sleppy • The Student Life)

On Thursday, Sept. 30, the Benton Museum of Art at Pomona College hosted its first 7C-wide “Art After Hours” event of the school year. Partnering with a number of student groups, including the Hive, Studio Art @ Pomona, KSPC, EcoReps from Pomona’s Sustainability Office, the Queer Resource Center and PZ Threads, the Benton aimed to create an evening “all about fashion.” 

Taking place in the Benton’s courtyard, the event included a range of demos and hands-on fabric arts, such as embroidery, sewing, bleach-dying, patch decorating, beading and reconstructing clothing. Multiple student music groups performed throughout the evening, playing original songs while dancing through the space and jamming to well-loved covers. 

With a solid turnout, each table let students try their hands at a skill. Some students sewed a purple tie-back top, secured rubber bands around a bleached tee and placed fabric into an embroidery hoop. The musicians rounded up participants, too, getting students to dance and sing along.

The first in a year-long series with these partners, this collaboration between the Benton and sustainable fashion groups has been in the works for quite some time. 

Nick Endicott PZ ’20, a post-baccalaureate associate at the Hive, wanted to meet the “surging demand for fashion curriculum at the 5Cs,” he said at the event’s welcome. In an effort to address this shortcoming, he emailed Justine Bae Bias, the Communications and Engagement Manager at the Benton, over the summer as the 7Cs prepared to reopen. He proposed creating a sustainable fashion series in partnership with other campus groups.

Upon receiving this email, Bae Bias said she “thought, as we come back to campus and things are just so different because of COVID, let’s come together and see what other partnerships can be produced in this because there are a lot of things going on. Students are going to be pulled in various directions, so why not have an all-encompassing event that’s interdisciplinary.” 

The pair worked together to bring in various partners –– first Studio Art, then the Sustainability Office, QRC, PZ Threads and Studio Arts, which is offering a fabric arts class this semester. 

“It became this whole ecosystem of fashion [and] sustainability,” Bae Bias said.

Working on both sides of the collaboration, Sabina Eastman PZ ’23 serves as the Senior Social Media Director of PZ Threads as well as the “Art After Hours” Intern and the Pitzer College Representative at the Benton. She headed the PZ Threads table throughout the event, informing attendees about the group and their projects while demonstrating a beading project. 

“We’ve been planning [the series] since early August, so it’s so exciting to see the student turn-out and the excitement about the event,” Eastman said. “Garnering more excitement and attention for this series will be so cool to see.”

Despite its grand opening having been put on hold due to COVID-19, the Benton welcomed a sizable crowd. 

“I think just having this space and being able to connect it with all forms of art and have all these artistic and creative minds come together in this shared space is really important for community building and artistic community building here.”— Sabina Eastman PZ ’23

“This [opening] has been delayed, so that makes it so much more appreciated by us,” Bae Bias said. 

From PZ Threads’ focus on sustainable fashion to reworking old t-shirts to bleach-dying clothes from Pomona College’s Free Room, the interconnection of environmentalism and style featured prominently throughout the evening. 

“Social justice is integral to identity and gender fluidity,” Bae Bias said. “Environmental analysis and sustainability have so much to do with fashion and materials and production and merchandising. When you look at anything, it doesn’t ever exist in a vacuum. So I think this event and this partnership is the manifestation of that.”

Continuing this theme of connection, the series also provided a place for the 7Cs’ many arts groups to come together and learn from each other. 

“I think just having this space and being able to connect it with all forms of art and have all these artistic and creative minds come together in this shared space is really important for community building and artistic community building here,” Eastman said. 

The event certainly built excitement for what this series has in store for the remainder of the school year: workshops, guest speakers and a culminating fashion show in Feb. 2022. Most of all, this Art After Hours event celebrated collaboration, artistic expression and meaningful connection among people and their creations.

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