THE BUZZ is palatable at Savannah Arts Academy, with the entire school in full-fever Junk 2 Funk show mode.
From designers putting final touches on their masterpieces, to theatre tech students building the stage, to models learning the show choreography — almost every student is frenzied with excitement for the 11th annual Junk 2 Funk event.
This year the theme of the event is “Flourish” and the promotional material features palm fronds, lush greenery, and succulent plants.
One of my favorite artists to watch every year is Alivia Rukmana, now a senior at Savannah Arts Academy. I first met Alivia when she was in 6th grade at Oglethorpe Charter School, and her artistic prowess was immediately evident.
- Photo by Geoff L. Johnson
This will be Rukmana’s fourth year participating in the show, and her third year having her art displayed on the Junk 2 Funk catwalk.
One thing that excites me about this artist is that there has always been a surprise element revealed when her models get to the end of the stage that will mesmerize the audience in oohs and awws - we will see if Rukmana sticks to this tradition or not when the shows start on Thursday, January 31, but for now, her 2019 “Flourish” collection remains top secret.
Students spend their freshman year learning the basics, sophomores are allowed to have one garment in the show, juniors and seniors are allowed a collection of three to four couture creations.
In keeping with the recycled and upcycled requirements of Junk 2 Funk, Rukmana’s collection last year for the 10th “birthday” theme prominently featured melted wax from old candles.
Similar to Cinna, the stylist for Katniss Everdeen in the Hunger Games, one of Rukmana’s models last year revealed an array of flames on his garment when he approached the end of the catwalk.
- From last year’s J2F: Alivia Rukmana with her models Serena Ho, Nathan Castro, and Keon Hughes.
“I participate because it’s such a once in a lifetime experience that I know many people aren’t able to have. I love to be creative and work with my hands, and Junk 2 Funk allows me to do just that with all of my friends. After doing the show for my 4th year now, I know that it’s one of the most high stress but rewarding experiences I’ve had in my high school experience,” says Rukmana.
“I’ve learned how to work with others, be assertive, and roll with the punches. You have to have thick skin and a clear vision to get through the months of designing and the run throughs. The show both matures you and humbles you,” she ponders.
Rukmana feels that she has learned from the criticism and that the experience helps to push her as an artist. One of the greatest benefits to Rukmana is the experience of working with others in high-stress situations.
“The show is the biggest fundraiser for the school and more specifically the visual arts department. On top of that, the show grows bigger every year and tickets sell faster. Everyone knows all of that, so the pressure is on to make sure you put in all of your effort to make sure the show is the best it can be for the community,” she says.
“Even after the final show on Saturday night, I can probably list 50 plus things I would want to add or fix on my garments,” acknowledges Rukmana.
Luke Edenfield, also a senior, has been working on the tech side of Junk 2 Funk for four years.
“Since we rent lights for the show, I get to work with equipment that I otherwise would not have the opportunity to learn to use. Junk 2 Funk has allowed me to build my resume which will help me in my career path,” he says.
Edenfield is also working on building the catwalk again, “it was harder to get it balanced this year because we are having to make a larger stage than in the past.”
While Edenfield did acknowledge that the larger stage size was built to accommodate the theme of the show this year, he was tight lipped about any specifics.
- Alivia Rukmana will have her artistic couture featured on the Junk2 Funk stage again
“People are just going to have to come out and see the show for themselves, part of the experience is not knowing details in advance.”
Skyye Williams, who is planning a career in cosmetology, is using Junk 2 Funk for professional development. “It is good experience for me to practice on other people,” asserts Williams. “I have to be really creative and dramatic with the makeup so that it stands out on stage.”
This is Williams’ second year doing hair and makeup for Junk 2 Funk models.
“It helps me to learn time management; I have to get it done on time and how they want it and not rush,” she says.
Aisha Duck, who will be graduating in May, is participating for the first time this year. “I am participating this year because my friend is a designer and she asked me to help. I am really excited about being a makeup artist for her,” says Duck.
“The educational values that you get from Junk 2 Funk are making you own work of art and getting a sense of character. You learn to expand your creative mind and make some small things into something big and beautiful,” she says.
While this may be her first year as a makeup artist for the show, Duck acknowledges, “some skills that I think I can take with my after high school are professionalism and creativity. I have learned to be professional while also having fun and being creative with the job at hand. This is how you have to be at times when you have certain situations in life.”
Alivia Rukmana concludes, “students pretty much run the show under the direction of Ms. Scoggins and Ms. Payne. Backstage, it is a combination of theatre tech students, communications, and visual arts majors who tech the show. All the installation pieces on the stage and in the lobby are done by art students. Ms. Chapman works with her 3D students to do installations each year. We have students who design the logos and posters, help with hair and makeup, design the music, and choreograph. Pretty much there is a job for everyone in Junk to Funk.”
Rukmana isn’t just an accomplished artist, she is a scholar with a 4.3 weighted GPA, and letters of acceptance to Georgia State Honors, UGA, and Georgia Tech, just to name a few.
Junk 2 Funk kicks off at Savannah Arts Academy on Thursday, January 31 at 7 p.m. There is also a Friday show at 7 p.m., a matinee show on Saturday at 2:30 p.m., and the final awards show at 7 p.m. on February 2.
While reserved seating for the show sold out within two hours, Gifford Lockley, principal of Savannah Arts Academy says, “we will be adding seats to the auditorium on a first come basis for each show. We will also be adding extremely limited balcony seating for each show. Details will be delivered through social media, and will not be available until Wednesday, January 30.”
For more details on those tickets, please check the school’s Facebook page or call Savannah Arts Academy at 912-395-5000.
In past years, the final awards show has been broadcast live for those who were not able to obtain one of the “golden tickets”, so check the Savannah Arts Academy Facebook page for that information too.