Fashion transcends appearance in new student exhibit
author: mac brock | a&c editor
Becoming at Fifth Parallel illuminates the magic of costuming.
This January, the Theatre Students Association (TSA) and Fifth Parallel Gallery welcome you to explore the vibrant world of costuming for the stage. Becoming, the gallery’s newest exhibit, features images and pieces from the university’s production history.
The collection, curated by TSA president Carson Walliser, features student work from over a dozen shows.
“I’ve always loved clothes,” says Walliser. “They have so much power and influence over who we want to be every day.”
Walliser drew inspiration for the collection by the Metropolitan Gala. The gala, which in 2016 was themed Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology, raises funds for the Met’s Costume Institute – the only institute at the museum that is self-funded. According to the Metropolitan’s website, the 2016 exhibit “explores how fashion designers are reconciling the handmade and the machine-made in the creation of haute couture and avant-garde ready-to-wear.”
The influence of this forward-thinking direction certainly is not lost on the Regina student community, according to Fifth Parallel Gallery director Alex Lohnes.
“Many visual art students work interdisciplinary [sic],” says Lohnes, “so truly its not that far off collaborating with the theatre department.”
Since transitioning from the Faculty of Fine Arts to the Faculty of Media, Art, and Performance, interdisciplinary has been the name of the game. At the launch of the new faculty in March 2016, faculty dean Rae Staseson cited the name change as being “in response to the tremendous evolution of technology in recent years and its impact on the Faculty’s teaching, research, creative and performance activities…[the name] evokes the feeling of art, community, collaboration, and creativity that defines the Faculty’s purpose.”
Becoming exemplifies another huge step forward in the student community’s modern focus on the collaborative side of art. The exhibit features costumes from recent shows like Spring’s Awakening and Attempts on Her Life to shows like Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest from over a decade in the faculty’s history. Faculty costume technician Cathy Mearns adds that the necessity comes in because “a character in a play needs an identity.”
To university students who may not see the appeal of costuming at first, Walliser wants to say that “costume is an art we live our lives in…the costumes worn in our productions are as real and normal for the characters in the play as your own clothes are for you.”
Lohnes adds, “There’s something about the tangible textures, and installation approach to the exhibition that presents these pieces as art, which they rightly deserve.” The gallery, which operates mainly on student-produced work, aims to make sure young artists do not go unnoticed.
“The Fifth Parallel Gallery is diversifying at the beginning of a new year,” says Lohnes. “[Students] are able to see successful art practices within the University of Regina by their peers…[it] shows what platforms students have to express themselves in a safe space.”
Though there is a wide variety of pieces included, Walliser highlights “the jacket from Eurydice done in 2010, worn by Katie Moore” as his personal favourite.
“Bits of the costume aren’t available to us anymore, and it breaks my heart,” he says, adding that it is “the outfit she wears on her way to the underworld in a raining elevator.”
The art of costuming encapsulates fashion and incorporate the intense drama of moments like those in Eurydice, and moves beyond them to manufacture new identities, and the team behind Becoming hopes to bring that to the Fifth Parallel Gallery.
The exhibit opens January 9 and has its opening reception on January 13 at 6:00 p.m.