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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Art comes alive under black light

    Rebecca Noble
    Rebecca Noble / The Daily Wildcat

Litzyeen Chomina, a local Tucson painter, applies fabric paint to a dress at The Studio on Thursday, Nov. 13 while helping to set up the Blackout Experience’s annual exhibition. The event takes place on Friday, Nov. 14 and all proceeds go to benefit local Tucson charity Youth on Their Own.

    When Kimberly Loyd discovers an art gallery displayed entirely under black light, the fashion designer is intrigued by the challenge of constructing garments that must glow in the dark.

    Loyd is among more than 20 artists who will be exhibiting vibrant, brightly-colored artwork at an annual event hosted by Blackout Experience, an event planning company specializing in black-light-themed galleries. In its third year, this year’s showcase is titled “Zeitgeist: Art and Fashion Show” and features two rooms of work produced by local artists. One room is presented under natural lighting, while the other will be entirely lit by black light.

    The process of designing costumes under black light forced Loyd to start backward. Instead of first drawing sketches as she would when designing an evening gown, Loyd went on a scavenger hunt to find the right materials that would glow under black light.

    “It’s been a lot of trial and error,” said Loyd, who teaches fashion design at Flowing Wells High School. After testing multiple types of material under black light in her home closet, Loyd found the pieces she needed to design the three outfits she will present on the runway.

    Consisting of a dress and two crop-top skirt ensembles, Loyd described her designs as being flirty and edgy, yet fairly basic. Stitched together with lace and ribbons dipped in black-light-reactive paint, Loyd said her designs are more about effect than appearance.

    “When the black light hits them,” Loyd said, “it’s like they’re electric.”

    The models flaunting Loyd’s designs will also sport black light lipstick to match the aesthetic.

    Blackout Experience began as passion project between founders Nina Corella and Ilene Serna. Wanting to find an innovative, fun way of displaying art by local artists, the psychedelic effect of black light art was partly inspired by the neon paintings of friend and fellow artist Litzyeen Chomina.

    A painter who infuses earthy, bodily themes onto her canvasses, Chomina said painting under black light changes her approach. When working with neon colors, Chomina said the process can be tiresome due to the extensive layering required to make the colors pop.

    “If you want the color to be bright,” Chomina said, “you have to put in the work.”

    Chomina will be displaying a number of new pieces at this year’s gallery, some of which represent her fascination with nature, science and geometry.

    As opposed to last year’s gallery, which focused on the Day of the Dead holiday, this year’s theme is purposefully broader, so the artists have greater freedom to explore their creativity. Corella added that “zeitgeist” implies the state of mind an artist is experiencing the world at specific a moment of time.

    For Elvira Morando, her state of mind is reminiscent of a Tim Burton movie. Drawing nightmarish figures with two sets of eyes, Morando’s artwork for this year’s gallery is Halloween-themed. While a student at the Art Institute of Tucson, Morando began collaborating with Corella on various projects and was approached to submit her artwork for the first Blackout Experience showcase in 2012.

    “It’s a unique, visual experience,” Morando said. “You get a closer look at how artists work.”

    To overcome the difficulty of creating art visible under black light, some artists resort to using invisible ink or black canvasses.

    Marv Roussan is another artist offering work for the gallery, illustrating ebullient, majestic paintings with eye-catching colors, Roussan’s portraits of wildlife are sure to complement the black light setting.

    Visitors of the gallery will be allowed to ask the artists questions about their work, as well as enjoy live music and complimentary cupcakes. All proceeds made from the showcase will be donated to Youth on Their Own, a local nonprofit that helps homeless teenagers finish high school.

    As an educator with students involved in the Youth on Their Own program, Loyd said submitting her fashion designs to Blackout Experience was the least she could do to help the organization. Blackout Experience selects a different local charity each year to donate profits made from the black light gallery.

    “As artists, we just like to share,” Chomina said, “so we’re as passionate as we can be for this gallery.”

    Blackout Experience’s gallery events have grown in popularity with each year, and Corella said she hopes the organization will begin branching out to host events in cities such as El Paso or Austin, Texas.

    Tucsonans should get their glow sticks ready by 7 p.m. on Friday, because this annual event is truly one of a kind.


    Follow Kevin C. Reagan on Twitter.

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