McElroy Film Helps VCU Student Create Thesis Film

Ben McElroyBlog


ShowImage1Shauna Kirkland, a graduate student in the Fine Arts Metals program at Virginia Commonwealth University, approached McElroy films to help her create a short film for her thesis show. In an excerpt from her artist statement, she describes some of her creative process:

“Jewelry and accessory have the potential to lead many lives. One particular piece can change entirely by putting it on one body as opposed to another, or by removing it to see it as an object. In fashion, the body is the canvas and the runway becomes the moment of performance. My work uses the body in much the same way where the wearer becomes performer. Through this act, we construct personal forms of armor, or “power suits”, to face the battlefield of the outside world. In harnessing this act of adorning and what it encompasses, I am consistently challenged as both designer and maker. Creating alter egos, whether subtly flirtatious or overtly sexual, demure or flamboyant, are some of the many ways in which these “power suits” can be concocted. The stories we project about ourselves daily, through how we adorn our naked bodies, become empowering.”

The video created was a a finalization of the work she had been creating in her last semester at VCU and was shown in conjunction with her costumes at the Anderson Gallery in Richmond, VA in May. In her own words below, she describes some of the ideas behind the video:

 “Her Footlight Parade, a video, was the climax of my thesis work- a place for my pieces to take the “stage” in a display of fantastical reality. The costumes I created, each for a different alter ego, borrow inspiration from variations of people who are performing. Whether it is the bride or widow appearing in appropriate attire to the public, or the showgirl dancing on stage for an audience, all are performing. This video is the culmination of the ultimate fantasy for these alter egos- to perform in their own personal musical or music video.

In the film Dancer in the Dark, by Lars von Trier, Bjork’s character, Selma, imagines her daily life morphing into a musical spectacular- whether it is the drone of the machinery at work or the swishing of rain morphing into musical numbers, it is her form of escapism. In Busby Berkeley choreography, the bodies of multiple women create kaleidoscope imagery. In editing myself to be repeated, I achieve the same effect of having multiples, though they are repeats of the same character, creating a larger than life fantasy of performing with myself. The video Her Footlight Parade becomes the escape for my alter egos to perform and live out the fantasy of a Busby Berkeley dream . Each character plays out their own version of a dance or movement. When all three characters were spliced together in post-production, the effect achieved was all at once maniacal, sad, and funny. The dichotomies inherent to the costumes became very prevalent once the pieces were seen in motion and in character. Through video, each character was able to come alive in a schizophrenic way, exposing the many dueling layers of each persona.”