Albertsons Library’s new exhibit proves how fashionable trash can be

Elise Ledesma | The Arbiter

In honor of Open Access Week, dressmaker Shaun Muscolo presents her collection of wearable “Trash Fashion” garments at the Boise State Albertsons Library.

Muscolo was born in West Germany and currently resides in the Meridian area, collecting anything from chemotherapy lids to bread twist ties all for the mission of creating wearable and recycled fashion. 

Muscolo started her journey as a seamstress when she was 11 years old, and it has remained a passion of hers since.

“I’ve always made clothes and costumes, and when my kids were little, I made everything for Halloween. Always made, always sewed,” Muscolo said.

The idea of trash fashion sparked Muscolo’s interest when she accompanied and aided a friend at a trash fashion exhibit. Since that day, she was hooked.

“I went, and that was just it,” Muscolo said. “I was completely hooked because it’s really a fun engineering exercise for me.”

She collects the garbage for these garments from a number of spaces, though many are gifts.

“I can’t tell you how much stuff I’ve received as gifts of garbage,” Muscolo said. “Recently I got 20 pounds of horse twine, and it’s a Boise Bronco orange so I just can’t resist. I’m gonna make an orange and blue little cowgirl outfit out of that because I just can’t wait … It’s amazing what people will save for you.”

Her exhibit “Trash Fashion” at Albertsons Library runs through Nov. 18, exploring the idea of sustainability and open access.

Open Access Week is an ongoing global movement geared toward accessibility of information and knowledge as a key to addressing social problems. 

Coincidentally, Muscolo’s exhibit opening fell right on that very week, Oct. 28.

[Photo of Shaun Muscolo’s “Trash Fashion” exhibit, located in the Boise State Albertsons Library.]
Elise Ledesma | The Arbiter

Sarah Waddell, the Library marketing and communication specialist at Boise State University found that Musculo’s exhibit was perfect for this year’s Open Access theme.

“We heard the theme of open access week this year was climate justice, and it all fell into place as Shaun’s exhibit was about recycling and reusing,” Waddell said. 

Muscolo’s exhibit uses all used and recycled materials to create one-of-a-kind wearable garments, and in the theme of open access to knowledge, each garment includes a sample material and information on that material’s global impact. 

“Having the sample material was really important because you go to these things and there are ropes and guards and there’s no space for touching, and I know the first thing people want to do is touch it,” Muscolo said. “We wanted to keep the theme with open access and provide people with something to touch.” 

For Muscolo, the garments she creates follow her mission of reducing her carbon impact. In fact, nearly 80% of materials she uses are recycled.

“It’s always been about recycling, and lately more about reducing our impact … we really have no choice but to reduce how much we make,” Muscolo said.

Muscolo hosted a workshop at the Boise State MakerLab on Nov. 11 to teach participants how to create recycled clutches and bags.

“As I continue upcycling materials I’m always looking at everything I see, like, what can we do with this? You know, what can we do with this next thing? What can we do with this?” Muscolo said. 

Waddell said she hopes the exhibit will be a source of inspiration to individuals.

“Everyday I see people walk in and [they] are so taken back. People are so surprised, and I love to see the look on their faces when they get closer,” Wadell said.

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