LOCAL By Local Girl explores what "made here" means

The conceptual, art-fashion project is stylish wherever it calls home.

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LOCAL by Local Girl designer Anita Joh sporting some of her wearable art. - TYLERPENGELLY
  • tylerpengelly
  • LOCAL by Local Girl designer Anita Joh sporting some of her wearable art.

LOCAL By Local Girl
To Feb 8
Anna Leonowens Gallery, 1891 Granville Street

W hat does "local" mean, anyway? NSCAD student Anita Joh's artistic persona (and "conceptual brand") LOCAL by Local Girl is an attempt to dig into that question through a series of pop-ups, installations and social-media engagements. The brand includes everyday functional objects, from wearable art pieces like t-shirts and bags to printed matter and book arts.

An institutional setting is new for Joh, however. That makes her grad exhibit, running until Saturday at the Anna Leonowens Gallery, a new experience: "I'm bringing it to the gallery space, which creates a different context," she says. "Everything else has been me popping up in an urban space that I found myself." (Explaining the streetwear vibes that permeate Joh's work.)

The exhibit involves taking gallery posters and invitations, turning them into art pieces themselves. The result? A deeply instagrammable aesthetic that's slick as lipgloss, with Joh sharing a micro-collection that carries an Off-White energy and features mini handbags that read like an edgier take on trendy French designer Jacquemus' micro-accessory.

It is, alongside being a breakdown on what local connections means, a reminder that high fashion and high art have always been RSVPing yes to the same party.

Originally from Vancouver, Joh has lived in Halifax for four years. She associates home with experience, people, community and connections. "You can be local to many places at once, it is okay to bend and adapt that definition to whatever works for you. We all want a sense of belonging and a home but that doesn't have to be geographical or physical, it can be found emotionally and mentally through people," she says.

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