Guest Artist, Cat Chow, Brings Exciting Viewpoint to Theatre Production at UNI’s Strayer-Wood Theatre

by Amy Rohrberg

Fall of 2009 will be artistically exciting at UNI in the costume area. We have invited a special guest artist from New York to be costume designer for our production of Marat/ Sade.

The University of Northern Iowa Arts Consortium is a campus-wide planning group consisting of the Gallery of Art, Department of Theatre, Museums, and the Textiles and Apparel Program. The Arts Consortium supports cross-discipline projects in art, textiles and theatre with a collaborative focus on visual, tactile, and performing arts. The Consortium seeks to expose the UNI community and the Cedar Valley community to new and interesting art forms from nationally known artists.

For the fall 2009, the Arts Consortium is organizing an artist residency and programming centered on the work of contemporary New York City CatChowDressartist, Cat Chow. Ms. Chow is a dynamic award-winning Asian-American artist who, although early in her career, has logged an impressive record of exhibitions, lectures, and residencies. Her sculptures, textiles, clothing and wearable artworks have been exhibited in New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Houston, Cincinnati, New Orleans, and Memphis as well as internationally. Through the course of three visits to UNI, including a two-week residency, Ms. Chow will offer her skills and expertise to public lectures, workshops, a solo gallery exhibition, the design and creation of costumes for a theatrical production, and in-course instruction at UNI. Exposure to a nationally known guest artist in one-on-one interactions will teach UNI students the craft and artistic standards of art production as related to costume design, sculpture, and artistic expression, as well as demonstrate innovative approaches to design for the theatre and fashion.

Ms. Chow’s style of art, along with her use of recycled and non-traditional materials - such as zippers, dollar bills and metal washers - is engaging, especially for young audiences. Opportunities to interact directly with a professional artist can change children’s and adults’ perceptions about their own artistic experience and enhance their lives. This is a unique experience for many of them. Exposure to different artistic styles, materials and techniques helps students expand their own artistic vision and their place in the world.

The Arts Consortium has planned the following Cat Chow events and projects for the Cedar Valley community:

• A solo exhibition of new sculptural and wearable art at the UNI Gallery of Art. (August 23 - Sept. 17)
• Creative drama/theatre for youth workshops in the UNI Gallery of Art facilitated by UNI Professor of Theatre Gretta Berghammer.
• An artist-facilitated mask-making workshop for children during the Family Fun Day at UNI Museums.(Sept. 19)
• Production of Marat/Sade, featuring original Cat Chow costume designs, and the creation of a traveling costume trunk with a DVD documenting the process of costume design and construction. (11/5-7 and 11/12-14 at 7:30 and 11/8, /15 at 2 p.m.)

This is a second visit to the Iowa campus for this artist. In February 2007, Cat Chow was guest artist at UNI for Fabrication Workshops. Approximately sixty-five Art, Theatre and Textiles and Apparel students created over 400 sample swatches from recycled/reused material other than textile in advance of the artist’s arrival. During the time Chow was in Cedar Falls, teams of students worked together on creating garments of combined swatches. Each “combined” garment was exhibited in the UNI Art Gallery showcases for several weeks, as well as in Latham Hall showcases. The opportunity allowed each student to contribute ideas from their own different perspectives on garment construction and aesthetics in an exciting collaborative effort. Textiles and Apparel students went one step further to create garments that were seen onstage locally in the spring TAPP Fashion Show (an annual event) and in national competitions.

Ms. Chow’ work is featured on several web sites, including her own, and at the university’s TAPP organizations’ web page: The Kresge Art Museum (at Michigan State University) web page features her exhibit in their “Past Exhibititions-2006” section. See Cat Chow: Second Skin Ingenuity Transforms Fashion into Art May 6 – July 28, 2006 to see a very complete set of images at