'Lady Liberty'

University Project 'Conceptual Character'

Costume designer and Maker: Akshy Marayen

Duties: design, dress making, stencil printing, dyeing, all textiles, costume prop making, millinery, wardrobe and dressing

Project Concept:

The article in National Geographic called ‘The Changing Face of America’, discusses how America is becoming a country where race is no longer so easily defined. This is because America is made up of many immigrants who have brought their own identities and cultures that contribute to what the country is today. Many of the people who have immigrated to America willingly did so because they wanted to pursue ‘The American Dream’. Essentially ‘The American Dream’ is largely centred around the idea that America is a country of immigration, and where these immigrants all hoped to live a better life in the new world. ‘The American Dream’ means different things to different people and it has changed throughout history. The face of this dream and iconic American image, Columbia, was used throughout history as the female personification of America. She was used to represent and encourage progress of America. This is where the idea for the conceptual character Lady Liberty grew. Lady Liberty is the personification of ‘The American Dream’ of the past and present. She also represents the idea that as something progresses something must suffer as it is clear that ‘The American Dream’ can sometimes be contradictory and hard to define. For example, while ‘The American Dream’ can be said to stand for industrial and technological progress, the environment has often suffered due to this. This issue can be seen in the installation of the North Dakoda Pipeline which Native Americans of the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakoda were against as they feared contamination and pollution of their sacred river which has since leaked even before the pipeline has become operational. I also took a lot of inspiration from current political issues, from gun violence to the presidential election of Trump which are all intertwined with the idea of ‘The American Dream’. To represent its complexities, the idea of liberty has been contrasted with the contradictions of ‘The American Dream’, which the character is constantly dragging around with her while still trying to emerge from it.