Giving New Life To Old Curtains: How an Artist Recycled Stage Curtains
How Rebekah Lazaridis Created 45-pieces from Recycled Rose Brand Curtains
Rebekah Lazaridis is a multidisciplinary artist who creates mixed media pieces using tattered curtains, bruised platforms and dented flats. In the Fall of 2015 she used recycled Rose Brand curtains to produce her solo exhibit titled “Broken Legs” hosted at The Sheen Center in New York City. The painting exhibit visually explored theatre superstitions, taking the viewer behind the scenes of long standing theatrical myths, spooks and folklore.
Rebekah shared with us the inspiration for the show and how she created the 45-pieces. Step inside her world and learn how she creates her art.
What was the concept for “Broken Legs”? I’ve been immersed in the hauntings of theater since I was 12. I remember hiding backstage to eat my lunch and feeling this weighty presence, even though I was completely alone. I loved finding out the history of theater superstitions and trying to visualize them. These paintings were an effective way for me to share my love affair with the theatre, both the physical space and the spiritual-emotional atmosphere that lingers there.
What was the creation process like for each piece? I would cut off a piece of a curtain and paint it. Then I’d cut the painting, reorient it and sew it back together to create a whole new piece.
How did you come up with the idea to use old theatre curtains and give them a new life? I’ve been working with old discarded theatrical platforms and steps for several years. I wanted to do some work on fabric and toy around with a theatre curtain, mainly the black masking legs. Eric Haak, a fantastic technical director and dear friend, said he had some old ones and offered them to me. I thought it would be the perfect substitute for bought canvas.
What were the unique parts of working with old curtains? I love the fussiness of the velour. It’s the most difficult fabric I’ve worked with and seems to have a mind of its own. When applying paint to it, some areas refused to soak any more paint. I like the idea that I have this giant velour creature hanging in my studio and one day it wants me to paint on it and one day it doesn’t.
What were some road bumps you hit creating these pieces? Whenever I applied water to the curtains, the fabric would appear stained or damaged. The stains, I later found out, were salts from the fire retardant that surfaced from the water. I liked the shapes of the stains and ended up working around them. They became personality flecks on the pieces, like birthmarks.
Where did you get the curtains that you used for the project? I used curtains from places where I had personal history, whether I had performed there, designed sets, painted or worked in some capacity. I reached out to my contacts at those theaters and they donated many pieces. Some of the theaters I work with are very old institutions with old curtains. The oldest curtain I worked with was from the 70’s or 80’s.
How many painted pieces were included in "Broken Legs"? There were 45 pieces total from 4-5 different theaters.
What was your favorite thing about this project? Knowing that I was doing something creative for both theatre people and art lovers and bringing that idea to the big city for a solo show – there’s nothing like that feeling. It was such an amazing opportunity and experience and I couldn’t be more grateful.
Rebekah Lazaridis has worked for many years in Florida and New York City as a professional scenic painter for theater, television and film. She has done murals in Washington DC, Tampa, FL and her hometown of St. Petersburg, FL. Learn more about her work and upcoming exhibits at www.rebekahlazaridis.com.