February 26, 2015

Happy News from the College Front

Hello, readers, long time no post!  I first and foremost want to thank you all for the kind wishes regarding my recent college road trip.  As you may know from my last blogpost, I spent the week of February break freezing visiting colleges in Pittsburgh, PA and handing out my portfolio for critique.  Well, I am settled back in Roch-cha-cha, as we call it, from Pittsburgh with happy news that I'd like to share, as well as a tour through the portfolio I complied. 

Celebratory Crepes :)

Road trip recap: Except for the occasional family reunion or day-trip, my family doesn't go on vacation.  So, to get away for several days and spend a few nights in an actual hotel was a big deal - it was a solid month of eager anticipation!  We left and returned in light snow, and the weather in the city stayed fair for the most part.  It was just bitterly cold with negative wind chills and the "heavy snow fall" of around two inches.  Having left over two feet of snow at home, we shared some great laughs over that.  

Carnegie Mellon University

Monday, we planned to poke around the cultural district and visit Carnegie Mellon.  I hadn't thought to schedule an appointment as I was not considering applying for their undergraduate program - their MFA programs for costume design and costume construction are just so prestigious.  However, good luck seemed to be on our side throughout the trip, as we arrived just in time to hop on the general campus tour, as well as the theater conservatory tour!  

We had a lovely guide, an acting major, for the conservatory tour, which focused on the acting, musical theater and dance interests of the group.  Afterwards, I approached her, asking about the costume program, and she smiled and told me that there is someone that could help.  We went to the third floor and into the costume shop to meet Mr. Chu, the costume shop manager!  He could not have been more generous with his time.  We discussed my interests and difficulties with trying to find a program, and he even looked over my portfolio (which I had thrown together and doubted was up to snuff with college requirements).  Mr. Chu, however, seemed very impressed.  I was so surprised!  He then listed a few other conservatory programs to look into and suggested Carnegie Mellon for graduate school.  Let's just say, I left with a feeling of elation - mission accomplished.  

Bonus points if you can name the location where I took this picture!

Point Park University

Tuesday the 17th was the reason for the trip: my admissions interview at Point Park.  I was ready and eager to please, and the nerves were for the most part gone, replaced with a sense of wanting for the future.  That morning, however, I woke with a terribly violent stomach bug that I couldn't seem shake for the next four days or so.  Despite that, I was determined to push through the day and just about collapsed when we returned to the hotel that afternoon.

The university itself consists of several buildings nestled among other towering skyscrapers and commercial businesses - a truly, right in the middle of the action, urban environment.  First, we and another family that we had actually met the day before on the Carnegie Mellon tour, went on the campus tour.  Then, we departed our separate ways and had the meeting with the admissions transfer counselor.  It turned out to be more of a question and answer session and a walk-through of the application process, rather than the the traditional admissions interview I had expected.

The last stop on our itinerary was a visit to the Pittsburgh Playhouse, which is where the conservatory programs take place and a hot spot for local and visiting theatre.  This is when things really got exciting...the initial question/answer meeting was with Prof. Bollinger, head of the construction programs, who was very friendly and personable.  We had a low-pressure conversation about the program and walk through my portfolio.  Then, he excused himself to talk with his fellow professor, the head of the design programs.  And, here was the biggest surprise...it turned into an interview opportunity.  THE artistic interview, which is the theater tech & design equivalent of an audition for the program!

One professor was finishing class, and the other was beginning class.  So, in the meantime, we went on a Playhouse tour with a charming and funny guide, stage management major, who made sure our questions were answered and my costume interests were addressed.  What a welcoming and inviting environment!  Then, it was time for the interview...Prof. Mayer-Staley was just lovely and seemed genuinely interested in what I had to say.  I felt sick and nervous, but just talked through my portfolio, dreams and aspirations like it was just a casual, yet formal, conversation.  After that, she reassuringly smiled and said that she was all set.  A little paperwork later - mission, way above and beyond, accomplished!

I will still need to be accepted into the university academically; however, artistically, the part I was truly concerned about, I believe I am set.  They also mentioned a costume shop apprenticeship.  I'm speechless!  There are just so many emotions - elation, disbelief, excitement, anticipation - running through my mind at the moment.  You can believe that I immediately completed my application, sent in the FASFA and sent out many thank yous the first chance when I got home.  I am so looking forward to where the future takes me next...

A Look into my Portfolio

And, finally, if you're still with me, the fun part - less talk, more pictures!

What I took with me: patchwork pocket with sewing accessories for tangible examples of my hand-sewing & my portfolio, which is housed in an old, cardboard scrapbook.  The book itself has 13 plastic pages, and I made use of every single space!

Page 1: Copies of the resume I quickly put together before the trip.  (I'm so glad I did as it was the first requirement for the PPU interview.)  Our printer was having issues, so please pretend that those lines go across the page.  

Pages 2-3:  I tried to lay the book out in spreads of categories.  The first spread, of course, was on the Sophia Project, which served as a major talking point.  I really believe that my internship has been the key to unlock all of these opportunities; and, I owe so much to my mentor and the costuming ladies for taking me on as their intern!

Pages 4-8:  Then, I included a few pages of my historical sewing from this year:

Pages 9-15:  Next was theater and I selected four works to showcase.  The first, Stage's Doctor Dolittle, was my major highlight, where I was given the chance to design and construct all of the lead female's costumes.  The young actor who played Emma, the female lead, was a doll, and it was so sweet of her to pose for photos for me.    

In my presentation, I concentrated on this show as I felt it clearly represented my thought process when it comes to costuming - moving from a spark of inspiration, to a visible idea and sometimes rendering, to creation, and finally onto an actor onstage.  

Emma's Act I cranberry dress rendering in ink & colored pencil.

Finished cranberry dress.

Cranberry dress & headpiece on Miss Jessica (Emma).

Other theater selections featured two YOHP shows I costumed, including Christmas Carol High School and Actor's Nightmare.  (My winter pompom muff wanted to join in the fun too.)

Pages 16-17:  Some theatrical millinery followed suit:

Pages 18-25:  In the second to last section, I added several spreads of renderings to appeal to the design aspects - including: several watercolors from my independent study during senior year and pages from my sketchbooks.  I had wanted to demonstrate my design process from pencil, to ink, and then colored pencil or watercolor, which I was introduced to at the end of my independent art study.  I sure hope in college they let me play around with watercolors again, they're so much fun!

1810s Sheer Dress.  Medium: ink, watercolor & colored pencil.

1840s Dress.  Medium: ink, watercolor & colored pencil.

Sketchbook pages: pencil outline & my first experiment with watercolor. 

Page 26:  Last but not least, I included the final draft of a me-scaled paper pattern for an 1830s cap - thanks Rhonda - which served as my hand sewing project for the trip!

And that, my friends, is the Pittsburgh trip in full!  Mission accomplished.  I have to say, it is quite a burden off my shoulders to know that what I have compiled in my portfolio already is enough.  Thus, I am free of the dread of having to start a college-worthy portfolio from scratch and will be free to sew as I please and continue to add to that portfolio.  And, who knows, maybe, a year from now at this time, I will be blogging from Pittsburgh, PA.  Thanks for reading!

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