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Wood Shop to Runway

Dave Walker

Update: Walker receives creative excellence award for his creation "wood, wire and fire" at the 22nd annual international world of wearable arts competition in Wellington, New Zealand on September  24, 2010, read the Soundings article for more information.

On campus you may know him as UAS’s Facility carpenter, sporting a ponytail and Carharts. If you are a regular to the Juneau’s Annual Wearable Art Show, you may recognize him as a regular design participant, and likely victor. These days, Dave Walker has distinguished himself in the international wearable art scene as "the talented wood designer from Alaska".

In May of ’07, Dave submitted his Prehistoric Princess costume in hopes of being selected to the 19th Montana World of WearableArt ™ Awards Show in Wellington, New Zealand. This international extravaganza, known for it bazaar and magical mix of drama, music, and costumes, is a 10-day event with over 30,000 people in total attendance.

Out of 300 designer entries submitted, only 155 were chosen for this world renowned event. Dave was one of the 55 international designers selected to showcase his artwork. With curiosity and anticipation, Dave and his wife, Rene, flew 30 hours on five different planes to get to New Zealand.

As the week progressed, excitement built, and the Oh my gosh, can you believe we’re here type of statements passed between Dave and Rene as they sipped tea with the US Ambassador’s wife. They made New Zealand’s national news, and were escorted through the tightly guarded Weta Workshop known for its Academy-award winning costumes and special effects from the Lord of the Rings series. “It was a whirlwind,” Dave said. Yet our humble, kind hearted colleague undoubtedly held it together perfectly and shined in the spotlight, catching the eye of professional artists from around the worlds of fashion, film, craft, and design.

Richard Taylor, the Director and Head of Effects and Creatures at Weta Workshop chose Dave’s stegosaur gown as the “garment that best crosses the boundaries of film and wearable art” and complimented Dave on his amazing craftsmanship. This prestigious Weta Award gave Dave a cash prize of $5000 NZ. Dave also won second place in the Avant-Garde Division, pocketing another $2000 NZ, and third place in the People’s Choice Award. (WOW!)

Dave’s spiky cherry veneer creation will not return to Juneau to be stored in the backroom with his past wearable arts garments, but instead will be displayed at the WOW Museum, in Nelson, New Zealand. What an honor to have Dave’s creative talent among us, and his creation in New Zealand. How admirable for him to follow a passion and have such great success. I am thrilled to know that there’s still room for the Carharts and more creative woodwork to come from Dave in the future. Right on, mate!

Students are encouraged to submit their work.  For more information about how you and UAS students can become involved visit the WOW Web site.

Article was provided by Marsha Squires of UAS Exchanges and Study Abroad.