Dramatic dresses float beneath a skylight while dramatic portraits challenge the viewer in two exhibitions newly opened at the Taubman Museum of Art in Roanoke.
For the next two years, the museum’s sunlit atrium will be the home for eight works from New York artist E.V. Day’s “Divas Ascending,” in which she took costumes from the wardrobe of the New York City Opera and turned them into sculptures that evoke the iconic roles for women that they were tailor-made for.
These dresses hang suspended from monofilament wires, accompanied by objects that further suggest the characters they represent. For example, “Carmen,” inspired by the tragic heroine from French composer Georges Bizet’s opera of the same name, comes with roses and a prop knife.
If this show rings any bells in the minds of local art aficionados with long memories, it’s because Day and her dresses came to Roanoke College in 2015 for a show in Olin Hall Galleries. The literally lofty Taubman display includes more of the dresses than the Olin Hall exhibition, though still not the full 13.
I have a confession: When I traveled to Manhattan in 2009 as a recipient of a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts to take part in the Arts Journalism Institute in Classical Music and Opera, I saw the original “Divas Ascending” show at the New York City Opera, and it’s a personal favorite of mine, so I’m glad the valley gets another chance to experience it.