Fairfield University guest artist and R&J Project costume designer Sonya Berlovitz to exhibit paintings and designs at the Lukacs Gallery March 23-30



Image: Sonya BerlovitzFairfield University's R&J Project will host an exhibition entitled, "Sonya Berlovitz: Costume Design and Paintings: 1993-2010." The exhibition honors this distinguished guest artist who is the costume designer for Theatre Fairfield's April production of Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet." The exhibition features a selection of Berlovitz's body of work and it will be displayed at the Lukacs Gallery on the ground floor of Loyola Hall from Tuesday, March 23 through Tuesday, March 30. There will be an opening reception on March 23 from 4:30-6:00 p.m., which includes a 5:00 p.m. artist's talk in the Gallery. Admission is free and the public is welcome. This exhibition is part of the Arts & Minds season.

Berlovitz, who has worked on numerous productions for the Tony Award-winning Theatre de la Jeune Lune, among many others, is in residence on the Fairfield campus for the Spring 2010 semester to work specifically on "Romeo and Juliet." The R&J Project's culminating production reunites her professionally with her sister Barbra Berlovitz, director of the Theatre Fairfield production and co-founder of the acclaimed Theatre de la Jeune Lune, which closed after years of international recognition in June of 2008. The R&J Project "is unique in that I haven't worked with Barbra as a director since 1996," said Berlovitz, "and it is also my first student project."

With a strong background in fashion design as well as painting - Berlovitz received a BFA in painting, sculpture, textile design and fashion at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and she studied haute couture for one year at La Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne in Paris, France - she states clearly that her roots have, "contributed strongly to my process. I often draw on both contemporary fashion and historical references as inspirations." She believes that this eclectic approach allows her to speak more directly to the audience "by giving them something with which to identify."

It is, however, the collaborative nature of theatre that inspires her. Berlovitz spent a large part of her early career working independently in fashion and in painting and her solitary experience, at the same time, balances and enhances the communal sensibility theatre provides.

In designing for a play and before she ever puts pencil to paper, Berlovitz meets with the director to discuss the overall concept and then begins a thorough research. She looks at magazines, films, other productions, the text and other sources of inspiration. Berlovitz then generates rough pencil sketches, which she brings to initial meetings to discuss. "After a couple of meetings to refine the sketches, I turn the drawings into color renderings, which then go through a couple of additional meetings until we have decided that they are exactly what we want," she declared.

This exhibition covers a large portion of the designer's career. She says it provides the viewer with an opportunity, "to see a transformation in my style. I think this work offers a strong sense of my palette choices." Berlovitz's talk will center on her background and her working process.

Costume, in Berlovitz's view, has a strong impact on an actor in the final stages of solidifying a character. Actors have been working in rehearsal clothes for weeks and when they finally put on the costumes that have been created specifically for each character, it becomes clear that this ultimate creative stroke celebrates the life of a character in movement within defined parameters. "Costume supports all the work the actors have done with the director and sends them out grounded and ready to soar."

Lukacs Gallery hours are Monday, 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Tuesday and Wednesday 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Thursday 1 to 4:30 p.m., Friday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information on the R&J Project, please visit the website at www.fairfield.edu/cas/randj_about.html.

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Media Contact: Joan Grant, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2950, jgrant@fairfield.edu

Posted on March 5, 2010

Vol. 42, No. 225