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A headshot of Jocelyn Chatman at the Old Well.

Jocelyn Chatman’s costumes bring performances to life.

Originally from Vancouver, Washington, Chatman is a second-year costume production MFA student in the dramatic art department. She came to Carolina with a passion for sewing but was eager to create more complex designs.

“I wanted a program that was very hands on,” she said. That hands-on learning has already led to amazing opportunities.

Chatman’s costumes have been onstage in PlayMakers Repertory Company’s performances, including “Blues for an Alabama Sky” and “Hamlet.” She is also creating intricate face jewelry for Ruth E. Carter, an Academy Award-winning costume designer known for her work in “Black Panther” and “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.”

“The biggest challenge is getting it to curve so it can sit perfectly on the face,” Chatman said of the wire jewelry designs. The design project is still in progress and will debut at “Afrofuturism: Piercing the Veil,” performed by the North Carolina Central University Dance Program as part of the North Carolina Museum of Art’s exhibition, “Ruth E. Carter: Afrofuturism in Costume Design,” which opens on March 31, 2023.

If she had to choose her favorite design to date, it would be the Stillsuit replica from the 2021 film “Dune” that she and her MFA classmates created for the Museum of Science Fiction in Washington, D.C.

“It was a lot of work and stressful at times, but the end result was incredible,” she said.

Rachel Pollock, lecturer in costume production, advised the Stillsuit creation. Chatman said her professors and mentors in the program have helped her grow as a student and artist. “They’re patient, understanding, very helpful and always willing to listen.”

Outside her graduate studies, you can find Chatman playing D&D with friends. Her advice to fellow Tar Heels is to always make room for your passions outside of the classroom, too.

“Find something you love doing outside of work, and do it often.”

By Jess Abel ’19

UNC-Chapel Hill celebrates Graduate and Professional Student Appreciation Week April 3-7. Stay tuned for stories on our website about graduate students in the College.

This feature originally appeared as part of the ongoing series, College Up Close.

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