TDPS alum gives gallery talk at Smithsonian American Art Museum
This blog post is by Emily Schweich, junior broadcast journalism major.
UMD School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies alumna Deb Sivigny (MFA Costume Design ’04) gave a gallery talk at the Luce Foundation Center for American Art at the Smithsonian American Art Museum on March 21. Her talk, part of the Luce Local Artists Series, highlighted the link between costume design and the fine arts.
“The simple act of putting together an outfit is a very deliberate task, just as putting together these collages is a very deliberate task on these jars.”
Sivigny said she often uses fine art as research for her designs, but choosing pieces in the Luce Center that reminded her of her own work was an unusual task.
“I go to be inspired by something there,” she said. “Going to look for a psychic link is a different way of looking at it.”
She chose a set of memory vessels encrusted with objects including buttons, trinkets and even teeth. The anonymous vessels date to the early 20th century and were possibly used in the African-American tradition as grave markers. The objects either belonged to the deceased or to someone who wanted to give the deceased things for the afterlife, Sivigny said.
Like her own work, the memory vessels were very collage-oriented, Sivigny said
“I tend to work in layers in both clothing and scenery,” she said. “I love repeated forms; I love taking one kind of element and repeating it again and again . . .to make a bold statement. . . The simple act of putting together an outfit is a very deliberate task, just as putting together these collages is a very deliberate task on these jars.”
Sivigny works full-time as Georgetown University’s artist-in-residence, teaching courses in costume design and managing the costume shop. She also freelances as a costume designer in Washington, D.C. She recently designed costumes for God’s Honest Truth at Theatre J and oversaw costume design for Georgetown’s production of Slow Falling Bird. Sivigny is also the costume designer for Very Still and Hard to See, which opens April 10 at Rorschach Theatre.
She said her TDPS education gave her the ability to juggle responsibilities and collaborate with other artists.
“I worked very, very closely with Helen [Huang] for three years,” Sivigny said. “She worked me hard; she believed in me; I am tougher for it in all ways.”