Art, not costumes

Art, not costumes

Wichita art duo take on MC duties at WSU Shift Space's annual wearable art fundraiser.

CLOTHING AS ART: "Tree" is a student entry from 2013 worn by Shelley Beasley. Courtesy photo

What: The 8th Annual Project RunAway
When: Friday, April 17, 7 to 10 p.m. (Doors open at 6)
Where: WSU Campus at the McKnight Art Center
How much: $20 general admission (standing room only), $30 floor seating, $10 student/faculty/staff, $50 Arts Advocates

The first time I saw a Linnebur and Miller performance, the two young women who make up the group fed me plate after plate of fried egg while squeaking around the Fisch Haus in vinyl egg suits (complete with protruding foam yolks).

The second time? They were old school hairdressers delicately bedazzling Wichita's art fans with snow themed beauty treatments. Each subsequent event continues to be an entirely different creation.

They are participatory artists in a landscape of one-sided artistic experience. Their art comes out of the worlds they create and, even more so, out of the characters they choose to play.

And they include the viewer in the experience — they feed you, they bedazzle you, they shower you with iridescent cellophane confetti.

So it came as no surprise to hear that they were hosting the 8th annual Project RunAway this year.

Project RunAway is a fundraiser for Wichita State's Shift Space gallery and it's all about wearable art. Wichita State students and local high school students can sign up to design and show wearable art on the RunAway runway. Students tend to team up, and this year will show upwards of 30 unique creations (often featuring performative aspects).

Hallie Linnebur and Meghan Miller are both graduates of Wichita State's Fine Arts program, and they can trace their relationship to Project RunAway back to their undergraduate days.

"We were involved from the very start," Linnebur said. "We both loved it and we just got more and more involved as the years went on and then we graduated and didn't want to let it go so we stayed involved even as alumni."

With seven years of event participation and volunteering under their belts, it's hard to imagine anyone else being more qualified than Linnebur and Miller to run the show.

"It's something we've wanted to do for a long time," Miller said. "Secretly, just to give it a shot, even though it's outside of our comfort zone."

Linnebur was quick to agree that it was definitely outside their normal realm.

"What we're doing [this year] is based mostly on our costumes," Miller said. "I think that's what gives us the courage to do it."

"We call it costume courage," Linnebur added. "We're shy people when we're not in costume but when we're doing a performance, we can get in the zone and entertain people in a way that I, personally, could never do if I was just being Hallie Linnebur."

"But when we're Linnebur and Miller I feel way better about being in front of people," Linnebur continued.

The unlikely transition from behind the scenes running to full-blown hosts came from Linnebur and Miller's passion for wearable art.

Various MCs have run the show before, including: CutterJ the Absurdist, Peter Pixie, current and former grad students, and WSU art history professor Royce Smith.

Why did these two self-professed shy women decide to step to the front? "For us, it's not that we can do it better, but that we're more willing to put in that amount of time for this thing," Linnebur said. "We wouldn't expect anyone else to put that amount of time in."

"Like an inordinate amount of time," Miller added.

That time commitment underlines what motivates them to stay with Project Runaway. "This is the eighth year and we want this tradition to continue," Miller said. "I want it to be the Hippodrome of the art department and go on for decades and decades."

That type of commitment should produce an event unlike any other, or as Linnebur and Miller nicely put: "It's a little bit fashion, a little bit costume, a little bit performance art, and a lot of visual art."

These are Wichita's future art graduates and they're preparing to put on a spectacle.

The three hour event tomorrow night will be punctuated by short performances by many local acts, including: Luna Copii Trio, comedian Jessica Kay, the Men's Scrapbooking Club and more.

Masks are encouraged, whether brought from home or purchased at the event. And most importantly, expect the unexpected from Linnebur & Miller and their progeny of young like-minded artists.