Costume designer Elivia Bovenzi looks at the theme of "Lies" as seen in the story of Joseph in her collection “The Threads of Lies.” She created costumes for Joseph, Potiphar, and Potiphar’s wife in response to Genesis 37:3-4, Genesis 39, Genesis 41:37-45.
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3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age: and he made him a coat of many colors. 4 And when his brethren saw that their father loved him more than all his brethren, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him.
Joseph and Potiphar's Wife
1 And Joseph was brought down to Egypt; and Pot´iphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him of the hands of the Ish´maelites, which had brought him down thither. 2 And the Lord was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. 3 And his master saw that the Lordwas with him, and that the Lord made all that he did to prosper in his hand. 4 And Joseph found grace in his sight, and he served him: and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hand. 5 And it came to pass from the time that he had made him overseer in his house, and over all that he had, that the Lord blessed the Egyptian's house for Joseph's sake; and the blessing of the Lord was upon all that he had in the house, and in the field. 6 And he left all that he had in Joseph's hand; and he knew not aught he had, save the bread which he did eat. And Joseph was a goodly person, and well-favored.
7 And it came to pass after these things, that his master's wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said, Lie with me. 8 But he refused, and said unto his master's wife, Behold, my master wotteth not what is with me in the house, and he hath committed all that he hath to my hand; 9 there is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God? 10 And it came to pass, as she spake to Joseph day by day, that he hearkened not unto her, to lie by her, or to be with her. 11 And it came to pass about this time, that Joseph went into the house to do his business; and there was none of the men of the house there within. 12 And she caught him by his garment, saying, Lie with me: and he left his garment in her hand, and fled, and got him out. 13 And it came to pass, when she saw that he had left his garment in her hand, and was fled forth, 14 that she called unto the men of her house, and spake unto them, saying, See, he hath brought in a Hebrew unto us to mock us; he came in unto me to lie with me, and I cried with a loud voice: 15 and it came to pass, when he heard that I lifted up my voice and cried, that he left his garment with me, and fled, and got him out. 16 And she laid up his garment by her, until his lord came home. 17 And she spake unto him according to these words, saying, The Hebrew servant, which thou hast brought unto us, came in unto me to mock me: 18 and it came to pass, as I lifted up my voice and cried, that he left his garment with me, and fled out.
19 And it came to pass, when his master heard the words of his wife, which she spake unto him, saying, After this manner did thy servant to me; that his wrath was kindled. 20 And Joseph's master took him, and put him into the prison, a place where the king's prisoners were bound: and he was there in the prison. 21 But the Lord was with Joseph, and showed him mercy, and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. 22 And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph's hand all the prisoners that were in the prison; and whatsoever they did there, he was the doer of it. 23 The keeper of the prison looked not to any thing that was under his hand; because the Lord was with him, and that which he did, the Lord made it to prosper.
Joseph Made Ruler over Egypt
37 And the thing was good in the eyes of Pharaoh, and in the eyes of all his servants. 38 And Pharaoh said unto his servants, Can we find such a one as this is, a man in whom the Spirit of God is? 39 And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Forasmuch as God hath showed thee all this, there is none so discreet and wise as thou art: 40 thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than thou. 41 And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, See, I have set thee over all the land of Egypt. 42 And Pharaoh took off his ring from his hand, and put it upon Joseph's hand, and arrayed him in vestures of fine linen, and put a gold chain about his neck; 43 and he made him to ride in the second chariot which he had; and they cried before him, Bow the knee: and he made him ruler over all the land of Egypt. 44 And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, I am Pharaoh, and without thee shall no man lift up his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt. 45 And Pharaoh called Joseph's name Zaph´nath–paane´ah; and he gave him to wife As´enath the daughter of Potiphe´rah priest of On. And Joseph went out over all the land of Egypt.
In response to "Lies," I chose the very well-known life of Joseph from the book of Genesis. Joseph was a young man that fell prey to the deceitful and wicked ways of others he encountered in his lifetime, from his jealous brothers selling him into slavery and lying to their father that Joseph was killed, to Potiphar’s wife wrongfully accusing him of rape. Joseph was forced to endure slavery, prison, and a world so far and different from his family and loved ones, all because of other people’s lies. Lies can be extremely damaging and can often run so deep, ensnaring those who tell them and affecting many innocent lives. But God used the wickedness of others for his perfect plan, and ultimately for the good of his people and all of Egypt, by placing Joseph in the perfect position at the perfect time. This is such a blessed reminder that God is sovereign and he uses every mistake and every hardship for the betterment of those who love him, even when it is hard to see during troubled times.
To depict the clothing of Joseph and the others, I researched historical images and references to understand what clothing people wore in the past, as well as modern interpretations of fashions that were influenced by the ancient Egyptians. I then blended different elements to create fun and historically accurate costume sketches. I wanted to show Joseph at different stages along his road from working in the fields with his brothers and receiving a colorful and vibrant robe from his father Jacob, to being a servant in the household of Potiphar, and then to being elevated to the position of second in command to Pharaoh in Egypt during the 7 year drought. I found it very fun researching images of Ancient Egypt, a time period I have been eager to explore for some time now. In the profession of costume design , the sketches are only ¼ of the work required for a production and are used as a visual tool for the designer and for the costume shop workers and seamstresses, who will eventually make the clothing on the page into a realized garment to be worn by the actor.
Elivia Bovenzi is currently (2013) an MFA candidate in Design at the Yale School of Drama, where she will be completing her third and final year. During her second year she designed costumes for Carol Churchill’s Cloud 9, directed by Margot Bordelon and King Richard 2, an adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Richard II, directed by Dustin Wills. Upcoming, she will be designing An Accidental Death of an Anarchist (Chris Bayes, director) a co-production for Yale Repertory Theatre and Berkeley Repertory Theatre. She has also designed costumes for productions at the Yale Cabaret, as well as for Yale College. Previous to her time at Yale, Elivia was the resident costume designer for Russell Sage College in Troy, NY.