As a part of her ongoing research on the history of zombies & their connection to the Pittsburgh region á la horror-hero George Romero, Rebecca Shapass (MFA ’23) collaborated with Bo-Bo Jesse, a student from Tom Savini’s Special Make-up Effects Program (Monessen, PA). For our collaboration, Bo-Bo transformed me into a zombie on-camera. This process included planing & styling a zombie together which Bo-Bo then brought to life through the sculpting of unique prosthetics and their application onto my body as well as through airbrush and hand-painting techniques. The three-hour-long transformation was captured by cinematographer Kevin Mathein who worked with Bo-Bo and I to craft cinematic documentation.
This field research was prompted by archival research at the George Romero Archive housed at the University of Pittsburgh and was recorded to provide material for both a long-form video project and lecture-performance that share the title, “No More Room in Hell.” These manifestations of my research consider the state of zombie-hood in relation to contamination, industry, and American progress. The included video sample highlights key moments of our process. This process was supported by the Frank-Ratchye Fund for Art @ the Frontier microgrant #2022-042.