What is Original?

I don’t know if you follow any of the other social media that revolves around Homestead Theatre, but I have been obsessing over the Scenic Design of Robin Hood.  As much as Stage Crew and Tech Theatre disliked stapling 10 volumes of old Medieval Dictionaries and out of Date Encyclopedias, the set looks magical.

Last night I was writing light cues and just sat gazing at the set… there is a piece of art on stage.  Never before would I have said this.  Yes, designing and making our sets takes artistic abilities and I for one think many of them are beautiful, but they are not stand alone works of art.  Gazing at the paper hanging on the stage, I think to myself, “I could look at just this for hours.”

Set for "Robin Hood"
Set for “Robin Hood”

The amount of comments about the set and wanting it is ridiculous.  Choreographers want it as a set for their dance, Artists want to install it, other people just want to look at it for awhile.  It’s a first for any of my scenic designs… but it was a design I’ve envisioned since this past May.  It’s supposed to play with the lighting design and it does…so beautifully it does.

But that is not what this post is about.  This post is about inspiration and how we are informed as artists.  It wasn’t until I spoke with one of our Art Teachers, Ms. Nowak that I realized my design came from my teenaged years spent at the Milwaukee Art Museum.  Have you ever seen Edge of England by Cornelia Parker?

Edge of England. 1999. Chalk from a cliff fall at Beachy Head, England suspended by wire. Milwaukee Art
Edge of England. 1999. Chalk from a cliff fall at Beachy Head, England suspended by wire. Milwaukee Art

I spent most of my weekends at the Milwaukee Art Museum in high school with my dad.  He would wander off to the impressionist paintings and I’d sit and gaze at Edge of England by Cornelia Parker wondering if the rocks were falling up or down.  Imagine, years later, I designed this set subconsciously inspired by a sculpture I once knew.  This is how art is created, this is how ideas form.  It’s an interesting thought, but nothing is original anymore, it’s just creatively reinvented.  We are inspired by the world around us in ways we don’t even know.  I was inspired by Cornelia Parker. Who knew?!

8333615151_d7fd130f22Cornelia Parker was born Cheshire, UK in 1956. She studied at Gloucestershire College of Art and Design from 1974 to 1975 and Wolverhampton Polytechnic from 1975 to 1978. In the book Themes of Contemporary Art: Visual Art after 1980 the author’s write that Parker’s work usually derives from “found objects that are recycled in artworks generally input a sense of time to the degree that the objects’ past history and identity remain evident.”

I too love working with found objects and in my 6 years at Homestead, have been able to design three sets with found objects.  Who knew I was emulating an artist I’d admired from childhood?

Can’t you see?  We don’t really know what influences us.  So always be open to learning and creating.

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