The premise of our latest exhibition, Meow Wolf Denver’s Convergence Station, is of a metro station system that travels between four distinct dimensions, each represented individually and in a space in which all four have “converged.”
Jeremy Salazar, aka HappyxLoco, was an obvious choice for creating the fashion of Convergence Station. A fashion designer based out of Albuquerque, their pieces are hand-painted and layered in a visually compelling way. The landscapes of Convergence Station are arresting and unpredictable, transformed from their original purpose of upcycled art. Not one layout is the same as the last. Naturally, we wanted the inhabitants of these worlds to reflect that same state of being both individual and collective while encompassing our passion to reuse forgotten materials, and a huge pillar of the HappyxLoco brand is to upcycle, refurbish, and use old to create new.
Salazar elaborates on what inspires them to create. “Nipsey Hussle, anyone who unapologetically follows their heart. Birds inspire me. Fresh air, genuine human connection, friends, and love.” They work as a painter and muralist alongside their fashion brand, creating pieces that are in your face with kindness, jagged edges and a soft focus. Salazar’s clothing operates in abstracted absolutes —“what this is” is what this is. Bell-bottom jeans can become a cape. A car’s sun-shield becomes a fascinator. The importance is reusing materials that already exist. They pick up materials from secondhand stores in order to create their pieces — Salazar believes since so much already exists on this earth, it makes more sense to use what already exists rather than making more.
For Convergence Station, Salazar’s preparation was akin to a thought exercise. “[I] was using whatever objects and clothing were in front of me at the moment. And then finding ways to put it together while visually looking pleasing, but also out of the ordinary to make you look twice.”
Salazar’s message to the world is based on sustainability and accessibility in a world of fast fashion and lost skills. When asked what a dream project for them would look like, they propose, “Maybe it would be an infomercial that could be streamed to the public to teach people and provide them with a survival kit on slow fashion living, sustainability, climate change, and mental health tools for adapting to the new age we are living in.”
The need to adapt to sustainable living is very real, as Salazar’s work reminds us. Fast fashion is a lucrative industry that mass-produces designer fashions, losing quality of materials and generating more clothing waste. The products of fast fashion are more often than not of poor quality, rendering them unable to be recycled. Cheap production also has environmental and social impacts: pesticides in industrial cotton growth, sweatshop labor, dangerous working conditions, and fossil fuels being used to create synthetic materials, to name a few.
According to the UN Economic Commission for Europe, the fast fashion industry generates 20% of global wastewater, which in turn generates 10% of global carbon emissions. Textiles generated are also a major contributor of plastics into the ocean, affecting both the environment and our general health. For all of this to slow, we must all be morally responsible for how we purchase clothes and who we support with our money. Salazar puts it succinctly, “Appreciate the beauty in what you might normally look past or think is broken and unusable.”
Salazar’s adaptability and desire to step away from this era of fast fashion and the new guard of Instagram couturiers is what makes their clothing both stand out and be accessible to everyone. For their works, art and fashion are both achievable and irreplicable.
Salazar’s pieces become reflections of their environment, of those who surround them with love and inspiration, those who create, and those who observe their art. They utilize recognizable motifs in their day-to-day brand, where the fabric is both the frame and the medium. The overlap of textures and fabric immediately draws the eyes — each layer demanding attention as the outer layers frame it. All elements of the piece stand together individually, but combine to make a whole entity with emotions, environment, and identity all collaging together. Within their work, community comes together in the folds. It’s clear Salazar operates from love and joy...for a more sustainable world to love more.
“Be fearless and passionate with your message,” they offer to new generations of artists. “If there are no platforms or spaces to share your work, make your own online or go outside — if you feel safe — and put your work there and let it be seen. Don’t rely on people’s approval of your work for validation. It might not be understood immediately. And don’t forget to color outside the lines.”