Artists sought to share their work for clothing line
Suree Sompamitwong wants to combine art and clothing to raise funds for mental health programming
WORTHINGTON — Since the age of eight, Suree Sompamitwong of Worthington had one dream — to be a fashion designer.
After graduating from high school at age 19, she set off to make that dream a reality. She moved to Los Angeles, the city where she and her family first lived after relocating from Thailand, interned in fashion and worked her way up to become a creative designer for a women’s clothing company.
Her dream had come true, and she put her heart and soul into the industry.
“I was so focussed on that job that I didn’t take care of my mental health,” Sompamitwong shared. Then, nearly four years into her dream job, she suffered a mental breakdown at work. She was ultimately diagnosed with manic bipolar depression.
Sompamitwong wasn’t about to let the diagnosis alter her dream.
She returned to Worthington, received the help she needed and realized the creativity she so enjoyed in fashion could intertwine with mental health and healing.
In 2017, Sompamitwong opened Creative Healing Space in downtown Worthington as a way to bring people together to address mental health through art. Her business operated primarily from grants, and was going well in the first four months. Then the COVID-19 pandemic struck. She lost her leased space and transitioned to online programming, but she hopes to one day have a space for people to gather.
In the meantime, Sompamitwong applied for and was awarded an Ignite Rural Artist Residency grant to lead a community art program. Through it, she wants to create a clothing line dedicated to showcasing local artists and their work.
Called Art Invasionz, Sompamitwong’s new venture is to partner with artists of any age from within Nobles County, taking their art and featuring it on urban streetwear — T-shirts and hoodies.
“I want to use that (art) as a message,” she said. “That’s why it’s Invasionz — it’s a good way to advocate for mental health; it’s a good way to start a conversation.”
It’s also a way for Sompamitwong to combine her loves of fashion and art with mental health.
“The reason why I say mental health is because a lot of my artwork — it’s been a great way for me to process my feelings and emotions,” she said.
Sompamitwong is currently accepting applications from local artists interested in having their art showcased on a clothing line.
“I just want it to be whatever (art) that makes them feel better,” she said.
In addition to the art, Sompamitwong would like a written paragraph from the artist about how art is therapeutic for them.
With the Worthington High School student art show now on display at the Nobles County Art Center, Sompamitwong has already begun recruiting artwork for her grant-funded project. She’s offering artists the opportunity to sell the copyright to their art so that it can be reprinted on clothing.
“I want artwork that makes you really think,” said Sompamitwong, who is a fulltime student at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall — she will graduate this spring with her bachelor’s degree in sociology — and a fulltime victims' advocate for the Southwest Crisis Center in Worthington.
Artists who would like more information or to participate, may contact Sompamitwong at email@example.com . The deadline for submissions is April 5, and Sompamitwong intends to announce the artwork to be featured in the clothing line on April 7.
Once the line is completed, a fashion shoot will happen in May. Sompamitwong also wants to host a local fashion show, and is in need of models for that event. A requirement of the grant is that her work be completed by May 31, though the fashion show — if it happens — will be in June.
“I want to do 15 to 20 different designs,” she said. “That’s pretty big for a collection.”
Proceeds from the sale of clothing will go to support Creative Healing Space.
“We would like a space for workshops and events,” Sompamitwong said, adding that she would like to begin a partnership with the Nobles County Art Center.
With Creative Healing Space programming still virtual, people can learn about upcoming programs and events through its pages on Facebook and Instagram. For more information about Creative Healing Space, visit creativehealingspaceinc.com.