School of Design & Production students, faculty and alum win honors in various competitions

Students, faculty and an alum from the School of Design and Production (D&P) at UNCSA have received accolades in recent weeks.

They include alumna Ying-Syuan Zeng of Taiwan, who won the 2023 U.S. Institute for Theatre Design and Technology (USITT) Makeup Design Award sponsored by Kryolan Professional Make-up; faculty member Yoon Bae, who is a part of the winning team selected to represent the United States at the Prague Quadrennial (PQ) of Performance Design and Space, June 8-18 in the Czech Republic; and lighting students Eli Thomas of Shelby, Lauren Lee of Durham and Malcolm Foster of Newton, Massachusetts, who were selected to participate in the Annual Hemsley Portfolio Review Design Exhibit in New York on April 2.  

“We are delighted when our talented students and accomplished faculty are honored for manifesting the caliber of work that we do in the School of Design & Production,” said Dean Michael J. Kelley, who himself is an alumnus of the school. “It is a testament to the dedication, creativity and professionalism that everyone in D&P demonstrates on a daily basis.  

“Congratulations to our winners for their excellent achievements, and for bringing recognition to our school,” he added.

Ying-Syuan Zeng

Ying-Syuan Zeng

Alumna Zeng received her M.F.A. from the graduate wig and makeup design program in May 2022. She and other winners of the 2023 Young Designers, Managers & Technicians (YDMT) Awards were honored at the USITT conference in St. Louis, March 15-18. The YDMT Awards bring recognition and support to young designers, managers and technicians at the beginning of their careers.  

Born in Taipei, Taiwan, Zeng discovered her love for visual arts at an early age. She told USITT that it took her “quite a long route from learning painting, graphic design, editing, making costumes … to being able to realize it is building out (her) imagination” that makes her happy, and “theater/film is the magic land that put everything together.” She said she is now “exploring the new world in prosthetic, props, wigs & makeup, and scenic art, with the goal and passion of combining all these elements together to bring (my) imagination into reality.”

Holland Berson, director of the wig and makeup design program in D&P and herself a UNCSA alumna, said of the winner: “Syuan moved to New York City after graduation and is currently working with The Specialists, Ltd. She has been putting her prosthetics experience to work alongside the skills she learned taking arts electives in scenic art with Susan Crabtree, director of scenic art and scene painting, to do finishing work on a wide variety of props and displays. She’s really loving it there.” 

Berson said Zeng as a student “was always looking for a challenge, and constantly went above and beyond for all her projects and productions. This award will benefit Syuan by affirming her skills both as a designer and as a technician should she move back into makeup work for live performance.” 

Established in 1998 by USITT Contributing Member Kryolan Corporation of Germany, the award comes with a $1,000 prize and a Kryolan makeup kit valued at $500. The winning designer's institution also receives a shopping spree for Kryolan products of their choice, valued at $2,000. 

Zeng is not the first UNCSA student or alum to win the Kryolan Award. Recent past winners have included Madison McLain (B.F.A. ’19) in 2019, Destinee Steele (M.F.A. ’18) in 2018, Yu-Ang Teng (M.F.A. ’16) in 2016, Chia-Chia Feng (M.F.A. ’15) in 2015, Kai Ravelson (M.F.A. ’14) in 2014, Lauren Wilde (M.F.A ’13) in 2013, and Berson (M.F.A. ’12) herself in 2012.  

UNCSA Associate Professor oScene Design Yoon Bae, a scenic and costume designer, is a member of the winning team selected to represent the United States at the Prague Quadrennial. The U.S. exhibit, titledOur Home,” will be showcased in the Exhibition of Countries and Regions at PQ23, which will feature contemporary scenographic works from around the world. USITT oversees the jury and curatorial processes for all PQ23 U.S. design submissions.  

Yoon Bae

Yoon Bae

The winning design team, consisting of eight members, has been working on the exhibit for two years and three months, including once- or twice-weekly telephone calls and Zoom meetings. “We asked, how do we want to represent the United States of America in this tiny 20-by-20-foot space,” Bae said. “The answer was borne out of that. … What does home look like, metaphorically? People are from everywhere.”  

The exhibit, which is in the “iconic shape of what a house looks like,” consists of repurposed material from a 1920s house and old scenic backdrops “because America is very much that; everything came from somewhere else.” It is also “not perfect; it’s slightly leaning, because we’re all trying to work together, and that is never straight,” Bae added.  

Though resembling a log cabin in some respects, the exhibit also contains technology in the form of projections of video content (work of 26 national designers selected by jury), LED lighting and interactivity via iPad.  

The first trial setup of the U.S. exhibit took place in January at Florida State University, where it was constructed by technical direction students instructed by team members, including Bae, who was on-site for three days.  

The first official reveal of the U.S. exhibit was at the USITT conference in St. Louis in March. This month, it will be shipped to Prague, where Bae will be part of the installation team.

Bae, who was educated and trained in London, has had her designs shown in Tokyo, Seoul, Norway and across the United Kingdom. In addition, she has designed for live performances in California, Oklahoma, Massachusetts, Kentucky, Utah, Texas and Arizona in the United States. She joined the UNCSA D&P faculty last fall.

In addition to Bae, D&P Dean Emeritus Joseph P. Tilford attended the recent USITT conference, to deliver two well-received conference sessions: one as a member of the Distinguished Scenic Designers Forum and the other, on the mental process of design and creativity.

The forum is a group of late-career scenic designers who are dedicated to the improvement of the field through volunteer mentoring and other services. UNCSA D&P Assistant Professor of Scene Design Eduardo Sicangco is also a member of the forum.

In other D&P news, the work of three undergraduate Design & Production lighting students was selected for the Annual Hemsley Portfolio Review Design Exhibit in New York at Ballet Hispanico Studios on Sunday, April 2. The students are Eli Thomas of Shelby, Lauren Lee of Durham and Malcolm Foster of Newton, Massachusetts.

The exhibit features the work of 32 graduating lighting students from design programs across the United States who will display their work following a daylong review by professional designers, directors and production personnel.

For more than three decades, the Hemsley Lighting Programs – named for the late Gilbert V. Hemsley Jr. – have been helping current students and recent graduates bridge the divide between the educational and the professional worlds. The annual review is designed to give students the chance to get tips from as well as networking opportunities with today’s working professionals.

M. Eric Rimes is director of the lighting program in the School of Design and Production, which also includes faculty members Josh Selander and Clifton Taylor.

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April 03, 2023