#StyleforAll: Meet Nina Barbuto

This month, our curated collection of workwear is modeled by strong women of the Pittsburgh art world. Business as usual is anything but ordinary for these well-rounded gals, meaning a typical day calls for chic and versatile pieces that go from office to opening – all while exhibiting their unique style. Of all the marvelous things they’ve achieved, their magnum opuses are the profound impacts they’ve had in their field and in their communities. 

Meet Nina Barbuto

Pictured: Courageous Connection Maxi Dress in Activist, Charter School Cardigan in Indigo

Tell us a bit about what you do.
Assemble, Director and Founder. I founded Assemble in 2011.  Assemble envisions diverse neighborhoods of empowered people who create, connect, learn, and transform together. We build confidence through making by uniting communities of artists, technologists, makers, and learners.Assemble is a community space for arts and technology located in Garfield, in the East End of Pittsburgh. Assemble unites artists, technologists, and makers with our neighbors of all demographics and provides a platform for experiential learning, open creative processes, and building confidence through making. Through dedicated daily after school, weekend, and summer programs, Assemble provides a space for children and adults to engage with Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics (STEAM)-based activities in a fun, relaxed environment. We provide a space for learning, community, and public art to improve the quality of life for Garfield residents.
Who is your favorite artist, and why do you identify with them?
I have a wide collection of favorite artists! One of my favorites is Vito Acconci. I also had the opportunity to work for him over ten years ago. I love how he thinks about space, media, and the human body. Sadly, he passed away on April 27 at the age of 77. It was a sad day in the art world.  Lee Bontecou is also one of my faves. Her work is also spatial and very emotional. I am also a big Instagram fan of Amina Mucciolo or Studio Mucci in LA. She embodies what I want to be on a daily basis – glitter rainbow unicorn fantastic.

What are a few fun facts about yourself?
I love unicorns and rainbows.
I have sold ice cream from a bicycle in LA.
My dog, Ruby, loves being fashion forward and a princess pitbull.
I also have worked in Architecture for a long time.

Describe your personal style.
Black, Rainbows, Glitter. 75% of my closet is black. Black dresses, shirts, etc. I arrange my closet by ROYGBIV, putting clothes with their most dominant color. There is then a black and white polka dot / houndstooth section. There is a crazy patterned, librarian shirt section. There is also a sizable sparkle section. I love it when I can wear a dress that is so sparkly that I just refract light to be a rainbow. Maybe that is too much? But I see sequins as a new suit of armor for battling the things that bring you down in this world.
How do you see style as an art form?
EVERY WAY! Art is how we communicate as humans. Everyday we make communication choices to how we want others to perceive us and how we perceive ourselves. It’s about what costume you identify with for that moment. Costume being anything you wear on your body. To quote RuPaul, “We are born naked, and the rest is drag.”
What do you like to wear to an art opening, gallery event, work meeting, etc.?
Because I tend to bounce from one aspect of my life to the next, I need my outfits to be versatile. My “black suit,” is at the core of everything. I always have a black tank top on and black leggings. From there, there might be something crazy or a black dress. I always try to make it pop with scarfs, socks, or a super sweet bright blazer. If I have time to get changed before an event, I might show up in a glittery onesie.
Best career advice you’ve ever received?
Say hello and smile to people you pass on the side walk.
+Check out the Assemble website, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook
+Follow Nina on Twitter: @nbarbuto

About Savannah

If something's happening on stage, you can probably find Savannah there, from house shows and dramatic theater productions to faraway metal gigs and full-on festivals. Otherwise, she spends her days elbows-deep in carb-heavy meals, rattling about years spent overseas, and testing the creative limits of an all-black wardrobe.

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