Venturing into the realm of an MFA thesis project is like embarking on a profound artistic odyssey. It’s a voyage that delves deep into one’s creative spirit, pushing the boundaries of imagination. Today, I’m thrilled to share a glimpse of my SCAD Production Design MFA thesis project, an exploration that took me on a transformative journey through the enchanting world of cinema.
My journey began with the reimagining of Ingmar Bergman’s iconic film, “Through a Glass Darkly” (1961). This psychological masterpiece tells the story of four family members on a remote island vacation, focusing on Karin, who has recently been released from a mental institution.
My mission was to infuse this narrative with a fresh perspective, moving the story from its original European setting to the vibrant tapestry of Jamaica. In this reimagining, a Jamaican family returns to their island home after migrating from Manchester, England, just before colonial emancipation in 1962. The house, once a place of refuge, had been locked up for several years, partially reclaimed by nature. Karin, entrusted with the task of revitalizing the space, grapples with her inner demons and experiences vivid hallucinations.
Central to the project was the transformation of the sprawling plantation house, slowly being devoured by the encroaching forest. Its faded, dry color palette symbolized its vulnerability and the toll of domestic life on Karin’s mental state. The wrap-around porch’s spindly columns hinted at the family’s French Creole heritage, leaving them exposed to the elements and one another. Inside, the house was a chaotic mix of colonial furniture, ancestral keepsakes, travel memorabilia, and symbols of island pride, reflecting the struggle to reconcile cultural and personal traumas.
Karin’s hallucinatory journey led her to a dramatic Gothic-influenced hall where she confronted her deepest fears. High ceilings, obscured by undulating rosary windows, seemed to slither up the walls. Spider-like tendrils held antique wooden furniture in suspense, poised to move at any moment. In the center of this surreal space, icy water encroached from the flooded exterior, while luminous capsules containing matriarchal symbols floated in a wading pool. Karin’s interaction with this space initiated a profound transformation, shaking her psyche and the chamber itself.
The journey I undertook in this MFA thesis project was an exploration of storytelling through the lens of production design. It allowed me to reimagine a classic narrative, blending elements of the original with fresh perspectives and cultural nuances. The resulting vision was a vivid tapestry of colors, textures, and emotions that transcended the boundaries of traditional cinema.
This project is a testament to the power of art direction in shaping narrative experiences, making it an unforgettable chapter in my artistic journey. While I can’t share the entire 150-page paper today, these presentation slides provide a glimpse into the world I crafted, bringing Bergman’s classic into a new light.
In crafting dreams and giving life to imaginative landscapes, I’ve discovered the boundless potential of storytelling through art direction.