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The exhibit, GladRags: Sketches, Swatches and Costume Designs by Myrna Colley-Lee, is on loan from the Mississippi Museum of Art where it was on display from June - October 2006. The exhibit will visit other Mississippi Museum of Art affiliates around the State of Mississippi throughout the year.

The exhibition consists of nearly 100 works by Colley-Lee, including working sketches and fabric swatches, production photographs and finished costumes that represent a portfolio spanning three decades. The artwork, many of which were hand-drawn by Colley-Lee, provides the director and the production team an insight into the overall concept the designer has in mind for the entire production.  

The beautifully crafted sketches show great detail and extensive historical research. She attributes the quality of her design sketches to her graduate school days, when students designed in great detail knowing the costume would never be realized. "The value," she says, "is the exercise of learning to design and the processes of design through rendering. It's a chance to develop your skill."

Colley-Lee always incorporates research into her designs. She says, "A play is always a world, a complete and concise unit; the more you research, the more informed the production and the more it assists the actors, and, therefore, makes it a more valid experience for the audience."

Some of the artwork on exhibit include pieces from productions such as The Taming of the Shrew, The Amen Corner, The Importance of Being Ernest, The Threepenny Opera, She Stoops to Conquer, Cyrano de Bergerac, and The Media Myth which were produced by a variety of repertory production companies including Steppenwolf Theatre, Chicago; Black Rep, St. Louis, Mo.; and the Cleveland Playhouse, Ohio to name a few.

Also on exhibit are costumes designed by Colley-Lee and constructed by Steppenwolf Theatre Costume Shop for a production entitled "Wedding Band" written by Alice Chidress, directed by Ron OJ Parsons, produced in 2003 by Steppenwolf Theatre, Chicago, Il, Martha Lavey, Artistic Director and David Hawkanson, Executive Director. These costumes provide additional depth to the collection by providing not only a one-dimensional drawing but also the final product used in the production. These costumes were recently donated to the Mississippi State University Libraries to be included in the Myrna Colley-Lee Collection.

In addition to the exhibit from the Mississippi Museum of Art, costumes recently donated to the Mississippi State University Libraries and the TheatreMSU Department in the Department of Communication are on exhibit. While only a few can be found in the exhibit, many others are currently being cataloged for use by TheatreMSU and other theatre departments around the State of Mississippi.  The costumes in this collection represent clothing and costumes from the late 1920's to the present. Colley-Lee collected the costumes over the years for a variety of projects and decided to make them available to theatres by donating them to Mississippi State University.

GladRags: Sketches, Swatches and Costume Designs by Myrna Colley-Lee is organized by the Mississippi Museum of Art and supported with funds provided by the Museum's statewide Traveling Exhibition Endowment, a fund made possible through significant private contributions matched by the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.

Watch a video of Myrna Colley-Lee at the opening of the exhibit (Requires RealPlayer)

Mississippi State University Libraries
Mississippi State University Libraries
Mississippi State University
Mississippi State University

Myrna Colley-Lee