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Grand Valley student focuses on fashion and environment for senior thesis

Grand Valley senior, Alissa Krumlauf, weaves fashion and storm water in her thesis project, 'Fashion Meets the Storm (Water)'
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Gallery Exhibition Hours and Events

Grand Valeeyer Performing Arts Center

November 26 - December 8

Monday - Wednesday 9am-5pm, Thursday 9am-7pm

Reception: November 29 5-7pm

Special VIewing: December 8 3-5pm

Phone: 616 331 2563

/Photo Courtesy of Alissa Krumlauf

Alissa Krumlauf has a busy season ahead of her, graduating from Grand Valley State University, moving to California, and most important, the debut of her thesis project, Fashion Meets the Storm (Water). Krumlauf, a Photography and Natural Resource Management major, is playing the role of both photographer and volunteer coordinator in the project. With a passion for fashion photography, it would seem difficult to form a thesis out of her two majors, but Krumlauf has woven them into a cohesive project with a meaning, both visual and environmental.

“With the environment, people don’t understand the issues," said Krumlauf. "I want to promote the issues in a way people can not be scared off, and that’s a way to start.” 

Fashion Meets the Storm (Water) is a narrative depicting the effects of storm water on the environment and people. The fashion models in the photographs start out pristine and clean, and as the rain and storm hits, toxic colors spew from the ground as they get devoured by the storm.

“It’s a way to continue fashion photography, but direct others through environmental avenues,” said Krumlauf, “to give fashion photography a meaning.”

After beginning the project Krumlauf gained a heightened sense not only of the importance of her message, but also the unawareness people had to the issue.

“Storm water is the leading source of water pollution in West Michigan and you don’t even know what it is?” is how she began to react to people oblivious to the issue. “I’m not trying to scare away people that are uninterested in the environment, but find a good way to bring everyone together.” 

Krumlauf began developing her ideas last summer, planning photo shoots, recruiting models, and choosing clothing and makeup. The biggest challenge was the cold weather, but with the photo shoots complete, Krumlauf no longer has to put the models through Michigan weather patterns, or the spots they chose to shoot, such as the Grand River.

“The models are awesome because the water was so disgusting. Storm water is nasty,” said Krumlauf, recalling that one model even had a spider crawling on her shoulder. 

Fundraising was a major concern for Krumlauf. Her thesis project would be an expensive endeavor, paying multiple models and crew members to hold different cameras and video equipment, in addition to holding multiple photo shoots.

“It’s the biggest project I’ve ever done, but I love it. I couldn’t have done it without everyone helping.” Using Kickstarter, Alissa has surpassed her minimum goal of $500, and hopes to continue to raise more funds for the project. 

Krumlauf hopes to be able to develop Fashion Meets the Storm (Water) even further.

“It’s been so much fun. I just love it. I just love talking about it," she said.

Fashion Meets the Storm (Water), will be on display at the Grand Valley Performing Arts Center Gallery from Nov. 26 through Dec. 8. The gallery will also feature works by the rest of Krumlauf’s photography thesis class, a total of 15 students. A reception will be held from from 5-7 p.m. on Thurs., Nov. 29, with all of the student photographers, and a special viewing will be held on Dec. 8. To learn more about Fashion Meets the Storm (Water), or support the project, click here

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