Ephemeral Art Leads to Long-Term Career
Sam Transleau is an unusual kind of artist. Her work always ends up being destroyed, and she likes it that way. From Delray Beach, Florida, Transleau specializes in scenic design and scenic art. She received her Master of Fine Arts degree in theatre from the University of Idaho in May 2017.
For Transleau, the temporary nature of her work is liberating.
“It frees me up. It’s not precious,” she said. “I’m very aware that two weeks later my work will be in the dumpster.”
Transleau creates on an enormous scale, painting for productions in UI's College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences, such as “Medea: Her Story” and “Proof,” and designing sets for “Titus Andronicus” and “As You Like It.”
In the fall, she begins teaching at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah, as a visiting professor of scenic design.
Transleau credits recent UI Theatre Arts guest artist Catherine Zublin with encouraging her to apply for the position. Zublin is a professor of costume design at Weber State University. The two worked together on “Titus Andronicus” while Zublin was visiting UI.
“Catherine is one of the coolest people,” Transleau said. “She always made herself available for conversation. Our research matched up so well. I really felt like I had a partner.”
At Weber, Transleau will be teaching stage craft and scene design and working on four shows.
Transleau knows her way around the theater. She’s acted, directed and designed costumes.
“Once I realized I could focus on one thing, I focused on scenic design,” she said. “Every day is a good day when you can paint,” Transleau said.
Beyond UI, her credits are extensive. Since 2010 she has worked as a freelance designer and scenic artist and is currently designing scenery for The 6th Street Playhouse in Santa Rosa, California. This summer she'll be in West Virginia at the Contemporary American Theater Festival where she’ll serve as assistant set and costume designer for Jesse Dreikosen, UI assistant professor in Theatre Arts, working on “Wild Horses” and “The Niceties.” She has also worked in South Florida, at the Texas Shakespeare Festival for the 2014-2016 seasons, at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival and Cinnabar Theater in California. She was hired by the University of Iowa as a guest scenic artist and interim props master for the spring 2015 semester.