Wari: Meet Project Tunic Contestant Debbie Apple-Presser

Artist and designer Debbie Apple-Presser sees beauty and potential in objects that most people might consider discarding. For Project Tunic, she is creating a Wari-inspired garment of woven brown paper bags that will be dyed for a richer color and then stamped with a decorative pattern on the front and back. Her work is inspired by the weaving techniques, bright patterns and the distinctive face neck vessels found in the Wari exhibition. Project Tunic will be on January 4,  2013 as part of MIX: Runway at the museum.


Preliminary sketch for Apple-Presser’s design

Apple-Presser developed her penchant for unique materials as child growing up in Cleveland. Her first design was a cowgirl skirt that she made from old kitchen curtains. She also remembers dying old table cloths that her mother had given her and creating brightly-color outfits. She recalls, “I was quite proud of my creations and luckily my parents never made any comments about my wardrobe.”

In the late eighties and early nineties, Apple-Presser turned her childhood passion into a small business called Wear-It-Out. During her eight-year tenure as a designer and business owner, she created one of a kind coats made from vintage fabrics that she sold in fashion shows and to private clients. Apple-Presser, describing her relationship with clients, says, “The best ones let me be creative. The worst ones wanted me to copy a coat from off the rack.” Due to family obligations and a new position at the CMA, Apple-Presser didn’t have adequate time to continue the business. However, she never stopped sewing and designing new creations.

In recent years, Apple-Presser has opened her own studio and expanded her practice to include sculptural works made out of recycled materials. She says that she always knew that she wanted to be artist. As a young child, she remembered coming home from the beach with a collection of rocks that she had found on the shore and painting them the same colors and patterns of bathing suits that she saw people wearing on the beach.

This early fascination with nature, color and raw materials has continued to the present day and is evident in her outdoor sculpture installations that can be seen around Cleveland. She created a two-year installation entitled Fenciperation, a temporary embellishment of a construction fence at Cedar Center near the Cedar and Warrensville road intersection. Also, her depiction of a giant spider made of cork, wire, brooms bristles and broken jewelry is permanently installed at Horseshoe Lake in Shaker Heights. In addition, for the fourth winter in a row, one can see her
aluminum-can snowman sculpture in front of the restaurant Fire, Food and Drink on Shaker Square.

-    Courtney Ruffalo-Miller
Education Intern


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