Avant-Garde 2023: Ringling College Rocks the 70s was a record-breaking success. More than 400 guests attended the 70s-themed event on March 18, and hundreds of thousands of dollars were raised for student scholarships.
Student Government Association President Celi Mitidieri ’24, Film, was the recipient of the Avant-Garde Endowed Scholarship. Sandra Lee ’24, Graphic Design, Wilderley “Will” Mauricette ’24, Film, and Rose Nachman ’24, Fine Arts, were scholarship finalists. These scholarships are awarded based on the students’ commitment to Ringling College and to the campus community service.
The stars of the event were Ringling College President Dr. Larry R. Thompson and his wife, Pat Thompson ’16, Fine Arts, who performed a number of Elton John songs dressed as a feathery Elton John and sparkly Elton Jane.
Their costumes were designed by faculty member Matt Myers ’82, Illustration, who conceptualized and created Elton Jane’s look, and collaborated with Entertainment Design students Capri Easterday ’25 and Olivia Dumas ’25 to transform Larry Thompson into Elton John.
Myers has been an instructor at Ringling College since 2019, teaching Figure and Costume Visual Development. After graduating from Ringling College in 1982, he went on to work all over the country. He freelanced as an artist for 35 years, starting his career in New York City, where he created murals and paintings for hotels, nightclubs, and international cruise ships. That work led to a career in the theatre as a scenic artist, and eventually led to his work as a costume designer and fabricator for small theatres and opera companies.
Working with smaller organizations, Myers was able to combine all of his skills, creating cohesive designs that coordinated graphic design and illustration with costume and set design. In 2007, he began working as costumer in the Theatre Department at Missouri Southern State University, teaching costume construction while continuing to freelance as a costume designer.
Since his return to Ringling College as a faculty member, Myers has also helped develop the Figure Reference Library, a project started during the pandemic that has since become a valuable resource for the school. With the onset of remote learning, faculty discovered a great need for remote figure model references that fit the unique needs of the students. Myers collaborated with other faculty and staff to create a 3,000 plus image and video library, complete with 360-degree rotating imagery.
Myers has been involved with Avant-Garde in myriad ways since his return, costuming guests, and contributing to stage direction. This year, in addition to costuming the Thompsons, he helped stage their much-anticipated grand entrance, and contributed to directing their much-anticipated grand entrance. He feels particularly invested in Avant-Garde as a former beneficiary. In his senior year at Ringling College, Myers was a recipient of a scholarship that helped him complete his degree, similar to the Crossing the Finish Line Scholarship, a one-time scholarship established in 2014 to help students who experience an unexpected financial hardship finish their Ringling education, and primarily funded by the Avant-Garde paddle raise.
Myers continues his mural work, and recently painted a site-specific two-story mural for the Sarasota Chamber of Commerce, celebrating the centennial anniversary for the county. He is currently dreaming up plans for multimedia wearable art projects.