“Clothes have more important offices than merely to keep us warm; they change our view of the world and the world’s view of us.” — Orlando —Virginia Woolf
The city I live in, Ploieşti
I was born in 1984 in the city of Ploieşti, the great year of “pioneers” (according to Chinese horoscope), of a special generation of visionary thinkers that stand for change and newness. Ploieşti is where I currently live and work, where I write and do my designs.
This city is the seat of the Prahova county and is only 60 km away from the Romanian capital of Bucharest (we are still struggling to make them a megalopolis). In the proximity of my city, there is also the Prahova Valley, one of the Alpine tourism hot spots of Romania (The Carpathian Mountains), and that’s just one of the several more reasons why this is a great region in Europe to explore.
A founding year of Ploieşti: 1596, during the reign of Mihai Viteazul. Then it developed quickly – the city flourished as a trade and handicraft manufacturing center over the course of the 17th and the 18th centuries.
Ploieşti, the capital of black gold: first and most important, during the mid 19th century, the region became one of the world’s leading oil extraction and refinery. It was opened between 1856-1857 with the help of US investment. Henceforth, the world’s first university specialized in petroleum and gas was launched in 1948. It’s now a world-renowned institution and it carries a huge tradition of hosting an impressive number of foreign students from all over the globe, each year.
Two remarkable writers were born here in Ploiesti: Ion Luca Caragiale, who happens to be the greatest Romanian playwright, and Nichita Stanescu, one of the greatest Romanian poets. Happen to look for great architecture edifices in Prahova county, you can stumble across some monumental buildings designed by the prominent Romanian architect, Toma. T. Socolescu.
Last but not least, Ploieşti is also famous because of another significant public figure, Toma Caragiu, one of the greatest Romanian TV, theater and film actors, who lost his life in a terrible earthquake in 1977. Hence, the city municipal theatre bears his name: Toma Caragiu Theatre.
From my point of view, this is a city with great potentials, though struggling with challenges such as poor public administration. In this regard, there are few formal and informal community leaders, among which youth workers, NGOs, young entrepreneurs (among which I also find myself) – that are trying to make a difference and change life for better in the city.
My work as an eco-designer, but also as a writer and a youth worker, is part of the development both of myself as a person and this city, and I am glad to be able to contribute to its progress and evolution. So let`s clear the lungs of a blurry breathing and start offering some fresh air to the cities we live in by painting their cheeks in creativity and color!
AnARTivism: engaged art concept, eco craft & design
So let’s go back to the 1980s once again, back to childhood. Ever since I was fascinated by textiles and crafting. Having a family record in this domain, with a grand grand-mother owning a small factory for producing clothes, and a grand-mother skilled in crafting and making clothes for each family member – no wonder where my passion for doing what I do comes from.
Perhaps making clothes for dolls as a kid is natural for every little girl, but what do you do when you find yourself captured by this fashion touch again in your 20s? You just decide to go for it trying to see what comes out next. And as a person who is keen on arts, plus a social cause to hold on to, I looked at my vision as a thousand miles journey into change.
I started years ago, in 2005, when I accidentally found some pieces of old clothes in my house that seemed to be forgotten and useless. The idea kicked in and I immediately started to envision a brand new item out of the old. It was an old shabby dress that simply needed a life, and that very moment was the start of this journey into the field of eco-fashion.
Dresses became blouses, skirts became bags, belts became necklaces, and at that initial moment, my only wish was to put them out there and unmask the idea that stood behind them. Once I did this, everything else followed: exhibitions, stage designs, festival and events, fairs and presentations, workshops and debates, European entrepreneurship mobility and environmental contests.
Though I am from Ploieşti, I originally started my creative works back in Bucharest as I was a university student at that point. My first exhibition was held in an underground venue – ACT theater, owned by the famous Romanian actor, Marcel Iureş (he is featured in Hollywood movies too), which is how my recycled designs became the theater hall d’ECOr for about two years.
Later on, I started working on accessories and would use absolutely everything that would end up as trash. I guess my idea was to show as many people as possible how to more attentively look at their wardrobes. Some started to RE-do forgotten pieces of clothing, while others helped me bring useless materials and give them a second life.
Though textile is my main working material, in time, I created items from wood and plastic, which was quite an adventure. Whether I was asked if I prefer one material over another, I could not choose. What is important for me is the recycling process, getting something new out of the old. Then, selecting a creation process, which means I am anything but conventional. No rules here – I just see a new frame in the old one. Isn’t it about more than just fashion? Of course, it is. It is about making my current clothing last.
My whole idea from the very beginning was to build a real concept based on the idea of active citizenship and anti-consumption. My initiative comes from a strict education in consumer awareness and an off-grid life experience, something to be sought after in life and used as much as possible. In this context, creativity bursts into concrete articles.
While I am proud to be the first in my community taking an initiative, when looking back to the development of the process, I can’t say it was easy. It was a path that I assumed to be mine with the responsibility of becoming a collective work in progress where people can begin to understand the idea of being socially engaged and sustainable.
I encourage people to reach new paradigms that are in favor of environmental protection as well as standing against hyper-consumption.
Education has drastically shifted its path by moving more and more towards sustainable context and awareness. Parents and teachers are the actors in this process of change for future generations. We are actually witnessing youth sustainable initiatives at a global level. And that is amazing!
The best tip I can give is to pay attention to what is around us. Change for the better is just a step away!
Featured artist: Ana-Lucreţia Nedelcu
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