Set and Costume Design
(On sabbatical Spring 2013)
Email: Vanessa James
Vanessa James studied painting, art history and theatre design at Wimbledon School of Art and Bristol University, England.
She is currently chair of the Department of Theatre Arts at Mount Holyoke College where she teaches courses in Theatre Design, The Domestic Interior and Ancient Theatre.
Her book The Genealogy Of Greek Mythology, will be published in the Fall of 2003 by Gotham Books an imprint of Penguin Group, USA. She is working on a companion volume on the genealogy of Shakespeare's plays.
She is the resident designer and producer for the Rooke Theatre, Massachusetts where she has produced and designed productions with Pulitzer prize winning author Suzan-Lori Parks and Nobel prize winning author Wole Soyenka and She conceived and organized the first American Women in Design Symposium and the first International Dramaturgy Symposium. She is also the design consultant for The Massachusetts International Festival of the Arts and for The Ensemble for the Romantic Century NYC.
Her work is documented in the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute Library and in the permanent collection of the Museum of the Moving Image.
Her designs have been exhibited at The Fashion Institute of Technology NYC, the Loeb Drama Center at Harvard University, The Hudson River Museum NY, The Parrish Art Museum, Southampton and the Ronald Feldman Gallery,N.Y.C.
Ms. James has won five grants from the National Endowment for the Arts as well as grants from the New York State Council for the Arts and the Massachusetts Arts Council.
Ms. James was production Designer for The President's House a documentary drama about the history of the White House. She was an Art Director for the films Brand X produced by Andy Warhol and Switch with Martin Sheen, for the mini-series'Kane and Abel, I'll Take Manhattan by Judith Kranz with Barry Bostwick, , Chiefs with Charlton Heston and Billie D. Williams and for the soap opera Another World. She has won an Emmy Citation and been nominated for two other Emmy awards.
She has received many favorable New York Times reviews and been featured in articles in Opera Magazine, New York Magazine, Theatre Crafts, T.D.R., Details, Avenue, Elle, Spy, People and Suzie's syndicated column.
She came to America in 1968 to design The American Pig, an Anti Imperialist Vaudeville, starring Henry Winkler and Jill Eikenberry for Joseph Papp at The Public Theatre. She continued to design sets, costumes and lights for productions at the Public including the year long run of William Burroughs' Naked Lunch and Edith Wharton's Old New York.
Since then she has designed sets and costumes for productions at The Brooklyn Academy of Music; Studio 54; La Mama; The New York Metropolitan Museum of Art; The Black Theatre Workshop; The Mannes Opera; The National Academy of Design; The New York Art Theatre; The Hudson River Museum; The Mount, Lenox, M.A.; The Loeb Drama Center, Cambridge; Long Wharf Theatre, New Haven CT; Stage West, Springfield, MA. In Europe she has designed for the Rasegna Internationale, Florence and The Parma Opera House, Italy; The Bristol Old Vic and The Royal Court Theatre, London.
She has designed numerous Off-Broadway shows Including Arvin Brown's production of Whistle in the Dark, Kenneth Koch's The Red Robins, with Roy Liechtenstein, Red Grooms and Alex Katz, the African -American musical You Don't Miss Water by Cornelius Eady and Chambers by Jack Gelber, directed by Arthur Penn . She was the set designer for Kristen Linklater's Company of Women, designing productions of Henry V and King Lear.
She has been a lecturer and guest artist at Princeton University; Barnard College; Parsons School of Design; The New School; Vassar College; S.U.N.Y. Buffalo; Columbia College, Chicago; Smith College; Bucknell University and the University of South Carolina.
She has been a guest of the French government at the Comedie Francaise in Paris and of the National Film School in London, England.
- "A Q&A with Vanessa James: Greek Myth Still Relevant Today," College Street Journal, November 14, 2003
- "Vanessa James Appointed Coordinator for MHC Arts Initiative," College Street Journal, October 22, 1999
- "Vanessa James Brings High-Powered Background, Low-Key Manner to Theatre Design," College Street Journal, October 10, 1997