UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — "Please Touch: Revitalizing Scenic Models Through Play," will be on view in the Woskob Family Gallery from Feb. 10 to 22. Created by Michael Schweikardt, a third-year master of fine arts candidate in theater at Penn State, this exhibition will include design sets that viewers are encouraged to touch.
For scenic designers, the building of a model — a three-dimensional, scaled miniature of the set design — is not merely a component of one’s practice: It is an act of creation. Handcrafted from pieces of this and that, the model’s purpose is to imagine whole worlds in miniature that in turn inspire fantasies and daydreams. But when this purpose is ignored and the model is regarded as simply a tool for communication, it is seen as having outlived its usefulness and discarded.
For Schweikardt, the life of the scenic model — like any life spent in service of art—becomes worthy of more consideration and interaction. "Please Touch" attempts to rescue the model from obscurity by imagining for it a better afterlife. Schweikardt has assembled roughly two dozen discarded scenic models that he built, by hand, between 2013 and the present. They will be displayed here in their ruined state, detached from their original duties as tools for production. The audience is invited to touch and examine them, to move or rearrange them, as a way to revitalize them through play and engagement so that they can live again.
Schweikardt is a successful set designer for opera and theater companies across the United States and abroad. His work can be viewed on his website, www.msportfolio.com.
Woskob Family Gallery, located on Allen Street in downtown State College, is a space for contemporary arts, culture and community engagement, sponsored by Penn State’s College of Arts and Architecture. For more information, visit woskobfamilygallery.psu.edu.