Graduate Schools collaborate on exhibit

The School of Architecture and the School of Drama launched their first joint exhibition since 2007 on Wednesday.

The show, called “Stage Designs by Ming Cho Lee,” features theater set models designed by Lee, a noted set designer and chair of the School of Drama design department. Director of Exhibitions at the School of Architecture Brian Butterfield ARC ’11 explained that the collaboration between the two schools was natural given the similarity between the disciplines of set design and architecture — both seek to construct an “architectural mood,” he said. The exhibit, which opened yesterday, marks a departure from the school’s past shows, which have typically been produced by architects, according to administrators at the School of Architecture.

School of Architecture Dean Robert A.M. Stern ARC ’65 said Lee’s work is “exquisitely architectural” and unique in its attention to detail, adding that he expects most exhibit attendees to be members of Yale’s arts community.

Lee’s pieces embody a distinct sense of architectural space, Butterfield said, and display a deep knowledge of historical architectural styles. Butterfield said he thinks the architecture community — often the primary audience for shows organized by the school — would find Lee’s work relevant because of the designer’s exquisite craft and deft use of materials. Lee received a Tony award for Best Scenic Design in 1983 and a Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre earlier this year. He has designed sets for more than 20 Broadway productions since 1962.

“We are all each of us engaged in designing the settings for the drama of life,” Stern said, “We are creating environments for human action. [The exhibit] is a celebration of a talent — it doesn’t carry a message.”

The School of Drama, which does not have its own gallery space, initiated the joint project with the School of Architecture and Yale College to stage an overview of Lee’s work. Butterfield said the School of Architecture welcomes collaboration with other arts schools, citing a “rich interdisciplinary history” dating back to its origins as the School of Art and Architecture.

School of Drama Dean James Bundy DRA ’95 said he urges partnership among Yale’s arts schools, but added that he thinks collaboration between schools has been challenging given the University’s limited budget. The School of Architecture offers joint-degree programs with the School of Management and the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, but has not collaborated with another graduate school since 2007.

Stern explained that the school has hosted classes at the Art Gallery and the Yale Center for British Art in an effort to take advantage of the University’s resources.

The show, which is based on a past exhibition of Lee’s works, is on view at the architecture gallery housed on the second floor of the Paul Rudolph Hall and will be on display through Feb. 1.

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