‘Every Fiber’ documentary spotlights the sustainable fashion work of regional designer Celeste Malvar-Stewart

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LANCASTER, Ohio (WOUB) — Sunday, October 23 at 1:30 p.m. the Decorative Arts Center of Ohio (145 E. Main Street) will host a screening of director Thomas Sawyer’s “Every Fiber” documentary. The film follows Columbus-based fashion designer Celeste Malvar-Stewart throughout 2020, and includes the Decorative Arts Center of Ohio’s own fashion show, “Fashion of Our Times: Featuring Four Ohio Based Designers.”
WOUB spoke to Malvar-Stewart about the making of the film, and you can find an edited and condensed transcript of that interview below.

WOUB Culture: So, how did “Every Fiber” begin, as a project?

Celeste Malvar-Stewart: I first met Thomas Sawyer, who was the general filmmaker and director for “Every Fiber” when they did a film project with Rust Belt Fibershed, which is the regional fibershed in our area. Thomas filmed the project, and that’s how we first met. After that, Thomas sent me an email asking if they could do a documentary specifically on me and my work, because they had been so struck by my work while making the other project. That’s really how it all started.

WOUB Culture: I have to ask: did Covid-19 impact the project?
Celeste Malvar-Stewart: Oh, yes. <laugh> My goodness. It’s everywhere in every story now, right? So, the filming for the project was in the midst of Covid. Even when we were doing the previous film, we had all been wearing masks and practicing social distancing. The start to filming “Every Fiber” was a little slow, but we were still in the midst of Covid at the time. Pretty soon Thomas realized that they wanted to put together a project that was going to be longer than the 10 minute one they had initially been thinking about.

WOUB Culture: I know that the creative process can be a very intimate thing. I’m wondering: what was it like to let someone else, and someone else with a camera, into the depths of your creative space?

Celeste Malvar-Stewart: You know, I really appreciate that question because it was something that I hadn’t really thought about when I agreed to do the film. It was a very sensitive process — we were both being very sensitive to one another’s presence. I did appreciate that Thomas was very respectful about the very intimate processes that are a part of creating my work. This was an eight month long filming process, so it was a lot of time that I had to make sure that I was doing things in the right order so far as it related to the film. And my studio is a very intimate and safe space for me, because I generally work alone. So it was definitely challenging and I’m just grateful that Thomas was very respectful of the space and the time they spent with me, but I don’t think I’d ever do that again. There even some aspects of my work that were proprietary that I didn’t wanna share. And so Thomas was also very cognizant of all of that as well. Thank God it all worked out in the context of the film!

WOUB Culture: That makes sense. Did you learn anything about your own creative process, or about yourself as an artist, through participating in the film project?

Celeste Malvar-Stewart: Yeah, I think it did. It actually helped me to realize how sacred a lot of the processes in my creative process are to me. You know, when I work and when I’m creating, there are so many sacred moments that I really cherish and that I don’t necessarily want to share with the world. And I didn’t really realize that before the film. I also learned by watching the documentary that I just don’t like watching myself, I don’t like seeing myself! <laugh>. So I’m really glad that I have my perspective of the creative side where I’m looking through, from my eyes in the creative process and that’s my sole perspective because it makes me a little bit uncomfortable every time I watch the documentary to see me sort of out there because it’s a really vulnerable place I’m in. And, of course, in creativity, we have to be very comfortable with our vulnerability, but to watch it over and over again and to see an audience watching it — is a really vulnerable process that I appreciate. But I also, you know, wouldn’t wanna experience it every day.

WOUB Culture: What do you hop audiences take away from viewing “Every Fiber”?

Celeste Malvar-Stewart: Well, I see “Every Fiber” as a gift. A gift to me and a gift in that it allows me to share my work and my dreams and my thought processes with others. So I hope that the audience walks away with feeling that they have been allowed to share in the beauty of all of the gifts that we’re given. And, you know, just the beauty in nature, because we’re at the farm a lot of times, and I’m naturally dying a lot. I hope viewers can see the bounty of what we have and how much respect that we must give in return to all of this and to Mother Earth. I hope it motivates viewers to cherish the beautiful gift of creativity in our communities and in society. I really believe that that just makes a healthier world. So, I’m hoping that at the very least, audiences walk away with this feeling that they’ve been given this very small gift of beauty that exists in the world.

Sunday, October 23 at 1:30 p.m. the Decorative Arts Center of Ohio (145 E. Main Street) will host a screening of director Thomas Sawyer’s “Every Fiber” documentary. Cost of admission is $15/$10 for members of the Decorative Arts Center via prepaid registration, which you can complete at this link. Admission at the door is $20. A panel discussion will follow.