Arts & Culture

Tacoma Art Museum calls for submissions for condom-inspired fashion

John Arsenault, “LADZ (John Arsenault and Adrian Gilliland)” from “Art AIDS America,” coming soon to Tacoma Art Museum.
John Arsenault, “LADZ (John Arsenault and Adrian Gilliland)” from “Art AIDS America,” coming soon to Tacoma Art Museum. Courtesy

You might think you know what part of the body a condom is for. But Tacoma Art Museum is asking you to think beyond the sheath for its Condom Couture Fashion Show, scheduled for Jan. 10 as the closing party for “Art AIDS America,” a groundbreaking national show of art responding to the AIDS epidemic in the United States opening in October.

Issuing a call to artists for condom-inspired fashion designs for its free couture show “It’s a Wrap,” Tacoma Art Museum and co-presenter the Pierce County AIDS Foundation intend that the project will not only bring a light-hearted end to the three-month show before it travels on to New York, but will, according to the press release, “promote safer sex, bring awareness to the impact of HIV in South Puget Sound and help de-stigmatize HIV.”

The idea isn’t unique to TAM. Condom couture fashion shows happen frequently around the country, often as fundraisers for Planned Parenthood, women’s health centers or universities seeking to raise awareness about sexual health and disease. Brazilian designer Adriana Bertini made headlines last year with her couture creations made of expired or defective condoms that showcased on runways around the world and at the 2014 International AIDS conference in Melbourne, Australia.

Artists may apply individually or as a team at, and must attend a meeting on Oct. 3 to review guidelines for submission and for garments, which must be appropriate and not revealing. Teams must provide their own model, but the museum will distribute 1,000 condoms for garment creation.

Only the first 12 confirmed and paid applicants will be accepted into the show. Submission deadline is Sept. 25. Registration is $25.

“Art AIDS America” opens at Tacoma Art Museum Oct.3. Organized by the museum in partnership with the Bronx Museum of the Arts, and co-curated by TAM’s senior curator Rock Hushka and Dr. Jonathan Katz of the University of Buffalo, the show uses more than 130 works of American art to survey 30 years of artists’ response to AIDS. A preview of the show has been up for the past month at the West Hollywood Library and ONE Archives Museum and Gallery in Los Angeles.

For more information, see