Opera Omaha to Unveil ‘Opera Coat’ at KANEKO

By Francisco Salazar

Lee Emma Running’s year-long residency with Opera Omaha will conclude on Nov. 11 at KANEKO.

“Opera Coat,” an enameled cast iron sculpture, embellished with copper and bronze, is “an object of beauty and mystery, inviting an audience to explore the complexity of the objects used in opera represented in the unique tailoring and particular plants.”

In a statement Running added, “I’m inspired by being adjacent to the rhythms, sounds, and sights of the opera.  As someone who makes sculptures and installations, I am curious about the talented people who create the physical elements of opera.”

Running was the artist in residence for Opera Omaha during the 22-23 season and watched many rehearsals and performances and was fascinated with the sets, costumes, and lighting that helped bring a character and story to life.

For her project, Running selected a coat from one of Opera Omaha’s recent productions to use as the basis for the sculpture. The coat sculpture is a direct cast, meaning each piece of the sculpture is cast exactly from the fabric. Before casting, the garment was turned inside out, exposing the part of the costume that is usually hidden from the audience, prompting a focus on what goes on behind the curtains and inside an opera company. The exterior fabric is embellished with botanical symbols, wild roses and deadly nightshade have been cast into the iron. The space inside the garment is empty, allowing the viewer to imagine their own body inside the opera coat.

Lauren Medici, Director of Engagement Programs at Opera Omaha added, “Initially, all my conversations with Lee focused on the value of art and creativity and the people who are creating it that we don’t think about all the time. That non-public facing part of art and creativity. This sculpture is about highlighting process, the behind the scenes moments that are not final performance. So much of opera is weeks, months, and years of process for a night or two of performance. Lee’s art focuses on bringing attention to elements that we don’t think about.”

“Opera Coat” will be exhibited through early February.