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The Costume Designs Of Miles White to Be On Display at The Ringling

The Costume Designs Of Miles White to Be On Display at The Ringling

The creative brilliance of talented costume designer Miles White will be featured at The Ringling with a selection of his original designs, swatch books and production documents displayed alongside historic photographs and actual wardrobe pieces. White's spectacular renderings evoke the adventurous era of design that emerged in mid-century American circus performance.

In 1941 Miles White joined a team tasked with re-conceptualizing the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus and updating it for the modern age. Under the leadership of industrial designer Norman Bel Geddes, the vision was to unify the entire circus day experience, including the presentation under the big top by thoughtfully coordinating the design elements of color, light and visual rhythm. The twenty-seven-year-old White brought to the team a modern sensibility for costume design, characterized by vivid colors, airy fabrics and a balanced concern for both function and style.

"It is exciting to share the talent of Miles White, which has been long known in the circus community, with a broader audience. I hope our visitors will appreciate the quality of White's sketches and his extraordinary eye for color," said Jennifer Lemmer Posey, associate curator of the Circus Museum.

White's sketches are captivating not only for their unique content, but also for the artist's exuberant use of color as well as his beautiful, gestural renderings of the proposed costumes. To explore White's artistic accomplishments, the exhibition will be organized around two central themes: transformations and productions.

The whimsical quality of White's circus designs is most evident in his clever ideas to mask the body, human or animal, and allow viewers to perceive the familiar as something totally different. The exhibition includes drawings that exemplify White's understanding of the needs of the performer's body; form, function and movement come together in designs for various circus acts. From that basic understanding, Miles White could leap into fanciful creations that undermined expectations. The bodies of performers, clowns and animals were transformed into butterflies, birthday cakes and other unexpected and enchanting sights.

White's talent for orchestrating color, texture and movement to create unforgettable productions for the circus will be explored through designs prepared for the 1952 circus spectacular entitled The Good Old Days. In White's imagination, a circus clown transformed into Queen Elizabeth I and Hannibal's elephants become the Alps.

The exhibition is drawn from more than 600 original sketches by Miles White that are part of the Tibbals Circus Collection housed in the Museum's Archives.

The Ringling is a preeminent center for the arts, history and learning that is dedicated to bringing the past and contemporary culture to life through extraordinary visitor experiences. From its inception, The Ringling has joined the diverse visual traditions and theatrical spectacle of yesterday with the genre-defying global practitioners of today.

A place of exploration, discovery and respite, The Ringling's campus in Sarasota, Florida-which includes the Museum of Art, Circus Museum, a historic home, an 18th-Century Theater and bayfront gardens-is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

As the State Art Museum of Florida and part of Florida State University, The Ringling fulfills an important educational mission. The Ringling offers formal and informal programs of study serving as a major resource for students, scholars and lifelong learners of every age across the region and country and around the world.


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