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Homestead: Chop Shop & Artist Amelia Hamilton
by Zinga

Published on June 29, 2021

Everywhen is on a mission to support artists and celebrate art. A HUGE part of that is support for Homesteads (camps) that involve the community in support of that mission. Our first featured Everywhen Homestead for the October event is Chop Shop, led by the *amazing* Amelia Hamilton. We asked her some questions about her creations and what she's cooking up for our week in the Mojave. Her wearable works of art, made with mostly recycled/upcycled materials, are simply breathtaking! We're so excited to have you, Amelia!

EWP: Introductions, please! Tell us about your Homestead project, Chop Shop.

AH: Chop Shop! Named affectionately for our home base theme camp, and appropriately based on the work we'd be doing. A booth, with a leather studio set up inside, where myself and a small team could revamp people's favorite garments that the fine citizens of Everywhen bring in to us. We would have several stations, the first one handled by me, and the other four with volunteering, skilled team members. 1) A leather station where I would be hammering grommets and rivets and studs into garments, adding o-rings, chains, shoulder accentuation, dragon scales up people's spines, painting metallic finishes onto leather, and basically using my leatherworking skills to take an ordinary garment and make it otherworldly. I do this daily, as a job, and would love the opportunity to gift my skill to the Everywhen world. Each garment would be allotted a 15-20 minute slot for the glorious transformation. 2) Laddering (where one cut slits up a t-shirt and weaves the shirt to make a badass pattern), while also releasing the glorious body to shine thru the cracks. This slot would be about the same amount of time as the leather booth. 3) A dope ass stencil station, where people can have a metallic geometric design added to their garment (with metal stud accents then hammered in to complete the effect).

These could be completed in more like 5-10 minutes, making this option accessible to many. 4) Everyone who came would get a leather laser cut "Everywhen 2021" badge riveted onto their garment. This could be a station where many many people could flow thru, and add their leather swag to a garment even if slept all afternoon and missed the other sign-up sheets. 5) The final station would have four fabric walls, where people could enter and get a super dope undercut design in their head. This particular station would be a fabric booth, so all hair could be kept safely within, and cleaned up each time, so the wind wouldn't carry foreign contaminants to the Everywhen terrain. These sessions would also be around 20 minutes long.

The entire Chop Shop recreation booth would be set up under a 10x20 structure, with a portion of it providing a shaded seating area with beautiful tunes and cold herbal sun tea to those who wait. When they arrive, they will sign up in the slot with the creator they are scheduling with, depending on the service they would like to receive. There will be many slots available to fill the entire block that we are open each day, so that everyone who signs up gets serviced, and if there is no more space, people do not wait in vain to be turned away. After the garment or head has been rejuvenated, the happy receiver will have a photo taken in the photo area that will be set up, to be posted in an online album available for viewing after the event.

Chop Shop will be open for four-hour shifts each afternoon, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday during the event, and will be eager to serve all of those who feel they could be rocking themselves just a bit harder, and feeling themselves just a bit more. We all know how it feels to suspect our threads are not as fly or outrageous as the people around us, or to feel kindred to a tribe in our hearts, but feel as if we are not able to visually show our dopeness to those around us as easily as others.

My particular life path has brought me to a place where I strive to empower people to BE art, express themselves to the fullest, and I provide the armor for people in the hope that they can come out of their shell and open up just a bit more, and let their heart and soul shine out. All materials (excluding the metal studs rivets and grommets) will be upcycled or recycled. I use only factory scrap leather in all of my garments, in order to create with the resources that have already extracted their heavy price from this planet. I have connections at a furniture factory in a nearby town where I can obtain free scrap leather to use at the event, so the cattle industry be not be supported in any way. I know most art grants that are requested are for intensely beautiful handcrafted items to marvel at, climb, or ride on, but this art grant submission is a suggestion to empower the people to BE the art, and to express their art through movement and play, while becoming their own unique superhero. And also, to have a super special piece to take home, that can serve as armor, to help them continue to be their true open gorgeous selves, when they inevitably return back to their default world

EWP: What motivates you to do this?

AH: First and foremost, I am motivated in this direction because of my specific skill set and artistic passion. So many people around me have so much to give, and creating magical, unique garments is my specific gift that I have both been given, and have extensively cultivated, that can enrich other people's lives and experiences. My main goal in the work that I do is to lift people up, and help them move more solidly into their place of individual expression and power. The other goal I have has more to do with my values: helping others gently to understand the planetary devastation that fashion can cause, and I do that through the positive, by upcycling religiously and providing heirloom quality biodegradable clothing.

I'm grateful to be so in tune with myself and to have the freedom and flexibility in my life to be able to pursue my dreams as a career. As everyone who chooses this path knows... when you do what you love for a living, it changes what you love into something else. In order to keep balance and energy and vitality in my creation realm, there is a certain amount of "inspiration deviation" that I must include in my daily practice, and I have been more aware of that as of late than ever before. I have learned the hard way, that if I don't deviate and include serendipitous inspiration into my work life, I will being to do so rebelliously. My health and well-being is incredibly dependent on my balance of monetary creation, and inspirational creation for the sake of creation, with no economic strings holding it back. This is a beautiful example of creation that flows from my heart and feeds my soul, and the result is both energizing and fulfilling in incalculable amounts.

EWP: As an artist yourself, what role do you think the creation of art plays in building a community?

AH: Connection through purpose is probably the most important part of artistic co-creation to me. When we share a common goal, a common mission statement, we ally and collaborate in a way that unites us together and gives us joint focus. It helps us open up to one another in a very sacred way, that supersedes background, origin, social and economic differences, etc, and unites us on a common playing field, with a joint goal, where everyone has a unique contribution to add. It's my belief that the communities that we form centered around love, creation, and artistic expression are the purest and truest connections that we can achieve together, especially when we add awareness, authenticity, and accountability.

Art and creation is a realm that everyone can play in, whether they play in colors or numbers, as it is part of the core programming found within each of us. Whatever source of life or god force that you believe in, the primary mission for every creature on this planet is growth, reproduction, expansion, and adaptation. So basically, you can boil all of that down to creation. It is where we came from, and the place we will return to. It is one of the only things we know how to do naturally at birth, and it is infused in our innate strategy for how we learn to use our bodies and develop. When we enter a space and realize that the joint purpose of a new community is art and creation, there is a part of us that is activated and awakened and is relieved to open and flex and explore and share. Communal art creation gives us an emotionally safe, supremely playful, easily accessible realm to open up to one other. We can trust, open, and heal, knowing that the agenda is simply beauty and joy. It gives us a universal language where we can all sing our song, even if it takes us a moment to rediscover our voice.

EWP: You’re traveling from North Carolina to be a part of the Everywhen (thank you!) What attracts you to this event, how does it align with your ideas as an artist and community builder?

AH: What attracts me to this event, and how do I feel it aligns with my ideas as an artist and community builder: I have long and deeply wanted more from the available artistic communal events I have attended. The first hook that drew me to Everywhen was the simple phrase: Do no harm. Sustainability, planetary accountability, and awareness are an important part of my everyday life, and I see within this platform the opportunity to express and explore those very important personal values as we grow together as better humans.

I know myself well enough to know that in this stage of the game, no relationship will flourish without all three of these important values, and that includes my relationship with my greater community. As we gather and play together, we are using the arena we have created as a therapeutic recapitulation of our childhood playgrounds. To heal, reconnect and develop the parts of us that were not fed past childhood, by a society focused on capitalistic power, or were stunted by early trauma of a million varieties. These recreated playgrounds give us a glorious opportunity to join a team, ask a shiny new friend if they'd like to play with us, and feel appreciated for exactly who we are as individuals. To develop the parts of our being that require love and acceptance to grow. It is my suspicion, and hope, that this new budding artistic community holds and maintains a similar set of values within its core structure, and will grow in a way that honors not only the individual but also the container we are hoping to thrive within.

EWP: OMG, thank you so much . Where can people see more of your work??

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