The “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge’s “Project Refuge: A Couture Fashion Show Using Trash” debuted in 2019 to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife on Sanibel and raise awareness for recycling. It spawned an encore show this year to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the DDWS. Now, two exhibitions will showcase the “best of the best” of the two runway shows.
The Shell Point Retirement Community’s Tribby Arts Center will open “Castoffs to Couture: Selections from Project Refuge of the ‘Ding’ Darling Wildlife Society” from May 7 through June 25. It will present 14 fashions, each fabricated with a minimum of 75 percent reclaimed or recycled non-perishable materials, such as used bags, soda-pop tabs, packing foam, paint chips, old towels and face masks.
“This exhibition is quirky and fun,” Shell Point Resident Curator Marge Lee said, “but the underlying message it conveys — that it is critical to reuse and recycle to save the environment — is serious.”
“We are delighted to partner with Tribby Arts Center in presenting this exhibition to share this amazingly creative wearable art and its important underlying message,” DDWS Executive Director Birgie Miller said.
Highlights will include “Spoonful of Lovin’,” a dress made with hundreds of plastic spoons collected from the trash at a frozen yogurt restaurant; and “Shady Lady,” made entirely from discarded cellular blinds. Sara Basehart, of Taos, New Mexico, made both ensembles. Others are “Rosie,” a dress that resembles a roseate spoonbill, made from packing materials by Kym Mason, of Sanibel; and “It’s in the Bag,” created by Constance Walker, of Naples, using plastic shopping bags from Target.
Junior division creations will also be on display upstairs, where the exhibition “REIMAGINED” by Shell Point artists runs concurrently. The latter displays items of apparel or accessories that residents — many retired or still-working professional artists – have transformed from discarded or found items.
“Castoffs to Couture” will be open and free to the public on Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information, call 239-415-5667 or 239-225-2916.
Following its exhibition at Shell Point, the “Best of the Best of Project Refuge” will come home for display at the “Ding” Darling Visitor & Education Center on July 5 through Aug. 30. The art exhibitions in the auditorium galleries are admission-free and open daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.