Mardi Bras event gives artists creative outlet

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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (AP) — In one of Evansville's more risqué fundraisers, local artists' creations in the forms of bras and bustiers will make their way down a runway Saturday, all in the name of raising funds for AIDS Resource Group.

Mardi Bras, in its fifth year, will feature about 25 different art pieces by a number of local artists during the benefit at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Tropicana Conference Center.

"We felt Evansville was ready for something a little more fun and exciting," said Wendy Turner-Frey, vice president of ARGs board. "It's also a great way to raise awareness and funds for the organization."

The pieces are made with a variety of materials, including pink Ruffies trash bags made by Berry Plastics, mini roulette boards that spin, feathers, beads and even newsprint for one artist's piece she is calling "Courier and Breast."

"It's a lot of fun," Turner-Frey told the Evansville Courier & Press (http://bit.ly/1fA9Ukx ). "The models will be in full on costume and be portraying a character. It really is walking art."

Jillian Shade is one of several artists participating in the show. She created two bras for the event, including a feathery masterpiece she's calling "Let Me See Your Peacock," the same name as a popular Katy Perry song. Shade, a student in the University of Southern Indiana master's of social work student program, began an internship with ARG in May doing comprehensive risk reduction counseling. She said when she first heard about the event she knew it was something she wanted to be a part of.

"I think it is a really neat thing to be able to incorporate all these different kinds of issues as well as art and local artists," Shade said. "So not only do you get to help out a cause that a lot of people care about, but you also get to express yourself through artistic avenues. I think it is pretty cool."

Nikki Davis received last year's "Golden Cup" and has three pieces she's entering into the show.

"It is a really fun and creative outlet for me," the Evansville artist said. "And it's a great cause."

ARG Executive Director Tracy Huck said the money raised will help supplement programming ARG provides. The organization provides case management, substance abuse counseling, housing assistance and other resources to more than 230 people who are HIV positive. ARG also tests about 1,000 a year for HIV and hepatitis C and provides education and prevention programming for about 3,000 a year. All services are provided free of charge.

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Information from: Evansville Courier & Press, http://www.courierpress.com

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