I moved to Altoona, PA to work as the Emerging Artist in Theatrical Design at Penn State Altoona. However, I am not designing their Spring show. So...I was sort of left on my own to "do my work" whatever that might be. With little inspiration and no map, I spent a lot of my time reading. Heavy artsy reading. I started with The Dramatic Imagination from Robert Edmund Jones. This man was a theater artist - a designer of all things, not just sets or lights or costumes. And the things he designed, they speak to me with such clarity of intent and style. He was also working at a time when theater was embroiled in Naturalism and struggling to make a change. Some quotes I collected in my journal:
|The Seven Princesses. Design by Robert Edmond Jones|
The artist should omit the details...and give us only the spirit and the splendor.
That man is playing the part of a beggar. We know he is not a real beggar. When we look at him we recall all beggars we have ever seen or read about. And all our ideas of misery and helplessness and loneliness rush up in our imaginations to touch us and hurt us. The man is in rags. If he wore ordinary rags we wouldn't look at him twice. As he stands there or moves about we are reminded of great paintings - like those of Manet. We are looking at something theatrical; these rags have been arranged - "composed" the painters call it - by the hand of an artist. We feel, rather than see, an indescribable difference. These rags have some how ceased to be rags. They have been transformed into moving sculpture.
Many of the costumes I design are intentionally somewhat indefinite an abstract. A color, a shimmer, a richness, a sweep.
The first entrance of the heroine. It does not say "she wore a taffety petticoat or a point lace ruff"; it says, "she came in like starlight hidden in jewels"
(I cannot tell you the last play I read where things were described as thus! Oh how I miss it! Please share with me if you know of plays/wrights that are so magical - I take that back. Inspired by such words, I asked Philadelphia Playwright Greg Romero if he would share any of his work with me, because my past experiences of his work have been of magic, music and the impossible. He did share some work with me, and I am currently wrestling with it. More to come)
To ask why did that artist do that thing in that particular way instead of some other way? Is to take the first step toward true creation.
(This quote inspired me to take stock of the things that inspire me and to try to discover why those artists do those things in that particular way. This lead me to reading more about how/why Issey Miyake works as he does, why Schaparelli was not content fitting in, why Cappucci created such dynamic shapes)
We must take the little gift we have into the hall of the gods.
I have many many more notes in my journal, but these are the key ones that stuck, that floated about and challenged me into action. Into reading more, asking more, risking more. I will share quotes from the other designers in another post. For now, I leave you with REJ and his words.