Vassar Quarterly - Spring 2018 - 35
Apparel as Activism
Karl rabe / Chris Loupos
In Her SKIN
During the fall semester, Hope Singsen '91 brought to campus her play SKIN,
an exploration of creative expression and its power to bring about both personal
and social change. The production was sponsored by Vassar's Creative Arts
Across Disciplines initiative, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
If you ask Singsen what inspired the play, she will list a number of influences
ranging from the writings of Anaïs Nin to Lacanian psychology. In the hands
of some artists, this might have led to a play full of self-indulgent ruminations.
Singsen, however, creates something more human.
Her character, Marais, informs the audience that she has 70 days to finish a
dissertation on Virginia Woolf's 1927 novel To the Lighthouse, but she is distracted
when she meets Georgia, a fellow Woolf scholar, who is equal parts brilliant
and idiosyncratic. Marais is completely infatuated. As time passes, she begins
to struggle with being open and vulnerable in her work and in her new relationship. She soon realizes that these issues are the result of repressed sexual
Singsen says that the character is based on her own life, with a few slight
changes. Marais's dissertation mirrors Singsen's thesis project, which eventually
became SKIN, a "performance collage" that mixes songs, poems, and other
Singsen, who has appeared in numerous films and television shows, as well
as on the New York stage, completed a 10-day residency at the Catwalk Institute,
an artists' retreat owned by Purcell Scheu Palmer '62 in Catskill, NY, several
weeks before coming to campus. Toward the end of her retreat, Singsen held a
panel and workshop attended by Vassar students and faculty as well as fellow
artists. -Sam Cibula '20
Award-winning actress, producer, writer,
and activist Alysia Reiner '92 has added a
new title to her repertoire, co-founder of
the eco-friendly fashion label, LIVArI. The
label, which was co-founded with Claudine
DeSola and Tabitha St. Bernard-Jacobs,
debuted in the fall at the Metropolitan
Pavilion West in Manhattan.
Americans toss an average of 68 pounds
of clothing a year, so reiner and her co-owners
plan to create items that will stand the test
of time, with customers hanging LIVArI
apparel in their closets for years instead of
relegating them to the garbage bin once they
become "out of style."
The line will be zero-waste, fair trade,
and made in New York. The company
uses excess supplies of fabrics from other
companies, sends scraps to local weaving
companies, and employs formerly incarcerated women.
reiner, who models apparel by LIVArI
below, says the company was started out of
a deep need to make both art and change in
light of current political strife in the country.
"In the face of these challenges, making art
as a form of activism is powerful healing to
my soul," she says. -Debbie Swartz
VA S S A r Q U A r T E r LY