A former DAAP fashion design professor and current professor of fashion at Ryerson Univeristy in Toronto, Henry Navarro had an idea to make a public piece of art addressing the segregated nature of Cincinnati.
His vision has been transformed into a fashion show that addresses the problems of a separated city by envisioning what it can be in the future.
Navarro started thinking about the idea two years ago when he was still a professor at UC. He saw a lot of contrast around the city and began looking at maps and census data.
After studying the history of Cincinnati neighborhoods and correlating the information to the most recent census maps, Navarro saw a city that needed to be more integrated. The name of his project is Grey Cincinnati
, named after a middle ground between the black and white communities.
“The premise is to select a location and, in a month, design, develop and produce a fashion show related to the place,” says Navarro. “Participative public artworks like ‘Grey Cincinnati’ are only possible with the collaboration of the local community.”
Navarro chose fashion because after doing similar projects in Spain and Italy, he realized that contemporary art doesn't engage a community as well as fashion does.
"When you tell someone you are putting together a fashion show about the people and the city they live in, it creates interest, because it isn't something usual," Navarro says.
The fashion show will use "real-people," black and white models from various neighborhoods in Cincinnati. The outfits are designed to correspond to famous neighborhoods, iconic buildings and aerial views of the city.
"I want to show people what it can look like if everyone, no matter their background or ethnicity, came together," Navarro says. "We are trying to show what that would feel like through fashion."
Navarro says now is a perfect time for an event like this because of all the positive things that are going on around Cincinnati. From redevelopment to new development, Navarro sees the city moving forward, but wanted to return to Cincinnati to show that the future can be even better.
Grey Cincinnat will take place July 28 at Prairie Gallery in Northside. Navarro expects to fit an audience of 100 indoors, but will project the fashion show on the outside wall.
By Evan Wallis