Cornel West Dress

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Who doesn’t need an article of clothing in their wardrobe with Cornel West on it?

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About a year ago, Arielle was at my apartment and pointed out the image I have of Cornel West on my wall and said, “Anna, if you took that image of Cornel West, turned it into a stencil, and put it on a dress, I’d wear it.” I stored her statement away in my memory and when her birthday rolled around, I got to making her Cornel West Dress a reality.

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I had originally simplified a picture of Cornel West in Photoshop during my senior year of college to be used for a community art project. That’s how I ended up with the blue image of Dr. West that now hangs on my wall.

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To make the stencil, I simply took the blue image I had hanging on my wall and took it down the road to Kinko’s where for 22 cents they made me a copy of it on a piece of thick paper. From there, I cut out the places where I wanted paint to be with an exacto knife. In no time I had a stencil!

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I also made a trip down to H&M and tried on a whole slew of dresses until I found the right one. Unfortunately, I did not bring my camera along for this part of the creation process, so you’re missing out on seeing me in a pink dress.

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The final step involved laying the stencil on the dress and dabbing white acrylic paint on the stencil with a sponge. I made my brother a stenciled t-shirt using this method when I was in high school, so I called him up to make sure the acrylic paint hadn’t washed out over the last 8 years and he said it still looked basically the same as the day I gave it to him. So there you have it, a simple process for making a stenciled image on an article of clothing! I was going to post an image of the stencil, but I couldn’t find it right away in my room. Hmmm… that’s a sign I need to better organize my art supplies.

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After making Arielle the dress, our friend Tsige gave us a call and asked if we wanted to see Cornel West and Tavis Smiley in Seattle FOR FREE. Arielle was unable to make it, but Tsige, her friend Nathan, and I headed to the KING 5 building to be part of the live studio audience for the filming of New Day Northwest. While we waited for Cornel West and Tavis Smiley to come on the show, we were also in the audience for segments about the Washington lacrosse team (which I didn’t know we had), met the winner of the Great American SPAM Championship (who handed out samples of his Mini Maple SPAM Donuts), and even learned the trick of how to clap effectively as live studio audience members (the key is clap really fast and loud … apparently it creates a nice sound for the home audience).

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At the very end of the filming, Cornel West and Tavis Smiley came on the show to talk about poverty in our country. You can watch that segment of the show by clicking here. And of course before heading home, we even got to document that we were there by snapping a picture on the couch were guests normally sit with New Day Northwest host Margaret Larson. The only thing we didn’t do was wear the dress to the filming!

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The Cornel West stencil is already on the back of a vest belonging to my friend Aysha, so I will post pictures of that creation soon. Plus, once I hunt down the stencil, I’ll post a picture of that too. I see more social justice fashion in my future!

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