Beaverton costume designer shows artwork virtually
The coronavirus pandemic has forced artists to showcase their work in different ways.
Beaverton resident and costume designer Ute Monjau-Porath is usually putting costumes together for films, theater shows, or in-person art festivals. Most recently, due to COVID-19, Monjau-Porath's work will be featured in the virtual 13th annual Little Spokane River Artist Studio Tour.
More than three dozen artists will be featured in the online show.
Despite not being able to show her work in-person, Monjau-Porath is open to showcasing her work in whatever way she can.
"I'm not rolling against the tides, I'm rolling with the tides," said Monjau-Porath. "I'm not against reality. I accept reality as what is happening now."
Originally from Germany, Monjau-Porath spent time as a gymnast from the age of 3 until her late teens. It's common for gymnasts to move into a training position at the end of their career, but the artist had other plans in mind.
"I just took my clothing apart and put it together," she recalled. "I liked it so much that I taught myself, then ... finished an education as a master tailor after university."
Monjau-Porath then went on to intern for an opera house that pushed her in the right direction.
Years later, she went into the film industry and worked in the costume department for feature films such as "I, Robot" starring Will Smith and the iconic holiday film, "Elf."
Whether it be a leather costume or Santa's boots, Monjau-Porath enjoys contributing to the art of a film no matter how successful it's at the box office.
"At the point when I start working with the film, it's not the film yet," she explained. "It's just an idea of how to make things work (and) how to support a story with costuming, and I'm always excited about that."
She added, "What happens afterwards, once they become movies, I'm not very interested in that. I'm interested in supporting a story with what you're dressing up in."
When asked about a favorite costume she has made, Monjau-Porath said, "Every current one is the best one because it provides me with excitement, joy and delight."
The artist is currently making masks for sale to help others limit the spread of the coronavirus. To some, it might not be the same as making a costume for Will Smith, but Monjau-Porath couldn't be happier.
"I don't care if it's the mask I'm making right now for people protecting them from COVID or if it's a prosthetic leg," she said. "It excites me because it has helped somebody, and it provides my brain this fuel for joy."
As for the studio tour, one of Monjau-Porath's pieces is a gray long coat made from wax cotton. The Beaverton resident made it specifically for the Pacific Northwest climate to protect it from the rain.
"(The coats) feature everything you need to protect yourself and feel good about yourself," described Monjau-Porath. "They have elaborate cottons and silks in the lining, (but) wax content on the outside."
Each coat is reversable and a unique piece, so one is not like the other, she added.
"While we will all miss having the show set in the picturesque Little Spokane River Valley this year, fantastic artwork will still be available online," said Little Spokane River Artist Studio Tour co-founder Gina Freuen in a statement.
The decision to move online was difficult, she added, but it was made to safeguard the artists and art collectors.
"Art lifts the spirit and those who visit this year's show will see original artwork from professional artists that celebrates, reflects and inspires our world," said Freuen.
Monjau-Porath's work, along with many others, will be featured in the studio starting at 8 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 26.
The show will be available online at LittleSpokaneStudios.com.
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