BEING SCENE: A Performance Installation at Canter Art Center, Stanford University

Director and Choreographer Aleta Hayes          Costume Design Lava Thomas

As part of the programming for Carrie Mae Weems: Three Decades of Photography and Video at Stanford’s Cantor Arts Center, Thomas designed costumes for the performance installation Being Scene. The performance considered questions of privilege and exclusion posed by elite institutions like Stanford and the Cantor Art Center allowing the diverse cast of performers to literally 'be seen' in an institution whose collections and exhibitions rarely feature people who look like them. The performers moved through the galleries, engaged with artworks in the collections, and posed in silent tableaus of living sculpture. Thomas used luxury fabrics such as silk, fur, and leather in black and various shades of blue as a subtle reminder of a time when only European royalty could afford blue dyes, and when the discovery of ground lapis lazuli revolutionized the history of painting. Each performer was individually fitted using couturier fabrication methods. Approaching costume as an extension of self-portraiture, the costumes were fashioned after the artist’s own clothing.