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Designs by Katy Newton grace runways and the pages of magazines. Beautiful dresses with extraordinary texture and lavish suits of bold colors are just some of the looks Newton cranks out on a normal basis. Her work has even been nationally recognized by Project Runway. But one thing you may not realize upon first glance is that all of Newton’s designs are made of recycled, upcycled, and sustainable materials.
A black and blue dress she recently showed at Midwest Fashion Week was made partially from bicycle tire tubes. The headpiece she wore at her wedding was crafted with an old centrifuge. Part of the joy she finds from art and fashion comes from her ability to discover new ways to use diverse materials that others may consider trash.
“When you create one-of-a-kind, you don’t want to throw it away. You want to cherish and keep it forever,” she said. All of Newton’s pieces, whether art for a wall or for the body, are unique and bold. Each one proves that someone’s trash can be another person’s treasure. “I wish people knew how valuable things are that they throw away and the potential of what they toss. It’s shocking to see what people throw away.”
As an artist and fashion designer, Newton has always forged her own unique artistic identity and displayed her creativity through her clothing. But she’s adamant that it’s possible to do this without adding to waste in our country.
“You don’t have to create waste to show off your identity. If you like to represent who you are through your apparel, when you piece something together, it’s much more true to who you are. You can then come up with something that is genuinely one-of-a-kind to you,” she said.
Even Newton’s art space reflects her passion for reusing and repurposing items. Her studio resides at RUCKUS Makerspace, which provides inventors, designers, artisans, photographers, craftspeople, and engineers a place they can share equipment, technology, and ideas. “The concept of the place is all about sustainable practices and craftsmanship,” she shared.
Newton is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Art Therapy from the IUPUI Herron School of Art + Design. She hopes to take the “trash into treasure” metaphor directly into her art therapy work.
“It’s about when you have had struggle and low points and transform yourself into something better. Instead of scrapping something, look at it and find value,” she said. “Something broken or discarded can be made into something useful interesting and beautiful again.”
As Newton considers the future, she hopes that artists like herself can influence others and help minimize waste and overconsumption. She believes that humans are innately creative, and that we all have the power to reinvent, reuse, and repurpose anything.
Written by Lindsay McGuire