Andie Duplessis sits on the floor of her room in sweatpants and a cornflower blue Ralph Lauren sweater. Her hair is pulled back by a black headband that makes her feel like Phoebe Bridgers. The chaotic mess around her is part of her artistic process and a result of spirited projects.
Duplessis is a fourth-year anthropology student at St. Thomas University who has an interest in fashion design and collecting. Her bedroom doubles as her atelier because her art mixes with her everyday life.
Materials are laid out on her already-crowded floor.
Removable padding covers the carpet — she removed it from every bathing suit and bra she ever owned since she was 12. The pads made the move from Peterborough to Shediac then to Fredericton.
There are two negative COVID-19 rapid tests that were turned into earrings and N95 masks that she chooses not to wear.
“I don’t feel as sexy in them as I do in the three-fold masks,” said Duplessis.
There are milk bags left over from a crochet project, bongos and a hardened purse made out of sourdough.
Duplessis starts playing Mitski’s “Laurel Hell” album so she can get started on this weekend’s project. She prefers to listen to entire albums while working because it feels continuous.
She finds materials for her art on the streets and in the garbage at Starbucks where she works. The latest material she brought home was the hose and cord of a vacuum cleaner that smells like coffee and has grounds residue inside. She assessed which pieces could come off easily and found that only the hose and the cord could be removed.
These are the materials she is going to use for her next project.
She lays out a wooden cutting board, a serrated knife, four pairs of scissors, a rotary knife, a single white Doc Martens boot for reference, a broken computer cord which will be used for the laces, elastic bra straps and a tape measure. Her plan is to recreate the boot that was once attached to the lost sole.
She will not finish the project tonight — she needs glue because she is dealing with hard plastic. Last week, she glued the bottle shut but cannot figure out how to open it again.
She twists the plastic around to see how she can cut it. She eventually figures it out by holding the knife and the bent hose in the air and slicing back and forth.
“We’re doing surgery today.”
She begins to slice the tube in half to create a sheet with the ribbed part on the outside to wrap around the ankle.
“Shapes, arches and symmetry is what I think about,” said Duplessis.
A lot of her process involves holding things up to her body.
“Let’s see how my ankle moves.”
She stands on the sole and wraps the cut vacuum hose around her ankle and looks in the mirror — “that’s so Scott Stapleford,” she said, referencing a STU philosophy professor who is famous for his Versace neon sunglasses and knee-high Docs.
She’s not sure what she’ll do with the final outcome.
“If it turns out good, I will leave it in my room and stare at it.”
She might do a photoshoot with her friend and creative collaborator, Jaime Salgado. She could also submit it to an art gallery, as she did with previous pieces.
“Weird I kept all of these things because I didn’t know I would be doing this.”
Duplessis does not have a clear end goal for the work she creates. She refers to her artistic collections as Scavenge Studios but also started a specific line of garments called ANDY X Andréanne.
“I would like for people to see my stuff, and I like compliments,” she said. “People are also starting to offer me materials.”
She first began reworking clothing when the pandemic started. Her mom would teach her the basics for sewing and crocheting, but she would “usually stop listening there.”
Duplessis makes her projects work without formal training.
She would work six hours at a time, then go show her mom what she made and her mom “gets a kick out of it.” Duplessis said she gets the same feeling when she posts on her Instagram account, andyxandreanne, named after her collection.
Her first three pieces consisted of a denim top, denim bag and a denim hat. She then made a macaroni top, which was followed by the bubble wrap shirt. These three shirts were all featured in an art show called “Shift the Focus” organized by Youth for Youth Art in March 2021 at Gallery on Queen in downtown Fredericton.
Last spring, her bubble wrap shirt was displayed in an environmental art installation put on by STU student Grace Hickey.
Duplessis also does crochet commissions, but this is a different venture than Scavenge. For her, it is the difference between craft and art.
“This is art; my crochet is craft. This is not practical and I only do it for fun.”
Creating art for Duplessis is not easy but it is intuitive. She gets frustrated with a project when it feels forced. She thinks her creative ideas are the reasons she can’t nap during the day.
“The ideas just come into my head like intrusive thoughts, then I just try and make them.”
Duplessis has always been a collector. In Grade 7, she thought it would be funny to start leaving doll parts everywhere. She still has them in her frog purse.
Her collections pile up, “not particularly because I care about the environment, but because I want to see how far I can push it. It just happens to be sustainable.”
These are the things she has around her, so it is what she chooses to use, rather than buying brand new fabric.
She continues to work on her boot project then stops, noting “this is kind of boring, it’s almost done, I thought this would be hard.”
Duplessis makes a round of cucumber lime gin gimlets and discusses the possibility of starting a Zine with her friends.
She hopes to continue creating art forever.
“It feels like I’m just a child playing with these things.”