Saturday, May 14, 2011

What's Going on at 808 Comm. Ave?

In complete honesty, I don't go to the 808 Commonwealth Avenue art gallery. Let's just say, I'm not their biggest fan. But, recently, they exhibited work that the costume, stage, and lighting design majors at Boston University's College of Fine Arts did -- for both undergrad and grad students.

And I was thoroughly impressed.

It was clear how much care had been put into displaying these costumes, scene sketches, and lighting outlines. They were presented in a way that was clean, organized, and stylishly informal. It was a welcoming and -- most importantly -- engaging presentation.

As I meandered through the wide, well-lit, gallery I started to notice that they were not only showing the final products of scenery paintings and intricate hand-made costumes but also the rough sketches, outlines, and drafts. They weren't just displaying the finished product -- but how the artist got to the finished product.

This I found very exciting.

Rarely do we get to see the creative process of such talented craftsmen -- we are presented with their final product and all our judgments -- everything we perceive -- is from this "final" draft. As a writer, I know that what the artist puts out to the world is only the tip of the iceberg.

Creating something -- anything, really -- is like finding a diamond. You can't put this diamond and it's awkward cut, dusty coat, and worn out edges on sale and expect people to shell out thousands. You have to edit it. You have to revise this diamond, dust it off, cut away the unnecessary aspects and smooth out the edges.

You have to turn it from a dirty diamond in the rough, to a fine piece of jewelry you've been dreaming about. It's how well you execute this revising -- this mending and bending -- that dictates how happy you are with the final product and how good you are at the craft.

Everybody starts out with a blank slate, and all our first drafts are atrocious -- true creation, true art, comes from the ability to revise, change, adapt. To edit. True art comes from a teleological process; a long march towards an end goal.

That being said I urge you all -- if the exhibit is still up -- to take a look at what these kids have produced and how hard they've worked along the way. From sketch book to final product, you'll learn that art isn't all grand muse and romance -- it's work, planning, and trial and error. Really, creating something is a testament of passion, desire, and work ethic -- just like being good at anything else out there.

Early designs and cloth ideas stapled to them.

Rough sketch to colored final.

The sketches themselves are worthy being framed.

Look closely to the one on the left. The artist didn't even erase the perspective lines. 
Close up of lighting outline. All those little boxes in the middle are lights ...
Wide of lighting outline. Almost overwhelming how much Light Designers have to keep track of.

Rough lighting and scene sketches. Beautiful in themselves.

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