Category: A&D staff

A visit to Angel Falls in poetry and landscapes

By , November 22, 2013 6:04 pm

Maia Nero’s trip to Angel Falls in the summer of 2012 ignited a productive period of landscapes and poetry. Nero recalls the spectacular Venezuelan landscape and the works it inspired. “It was an eight-day trip through an area called Kavac. I stayed with the Pemon Indians in their villages,” says Nero, an administrative assistant in Communication Design.

Maia Nero’s “Angel Falls”

Nero hiked through the jungle to the highest visitor’s point at Angel Falls. At 2,212 feet, nearly 20 times higher than Niagara Falls, Angel Falls is the world’s tallest waterfall. “There isn’t anything more spectacular than seeing the longest dropping waterfalls in the world,” she says. 

Maia Nero’s “Tropical Jungle”

As Nero entered the hiking path into the tropical jungle, sunlight burst through the trees. She captured the sight in a photo. “I worked from my photographs to maintain the integrity of what I was journeying through.”

Maia Nero’s “Memories Caress Canaima”

Nero’s favorite from among her landscapes of Angel Falls is “Memories Caress Canaima.” “It’s of the second tier of Angel Falls, where the mist creates a canyon of water. If you look at it, you’ll see the water meandering between the trees.”

Maia Nero’s “Caressing Dreams”

Hiking to a camp village, Nero saw cloud formations that inspired her “Caressing Dreams” landscape. “It was a difficult hike because the blades of grass were parched, very dry and tall — the mountains and clouds, the entire vision was so captivating you didn’t care that you were hiking in a difficult environment,” says Nero.

Maia Nero’s “Cliffside” 

The painting “Cliffside” shows the Tepui Mountains. Tepui in the Pemon language means “house of the gods. ” Says Nero, “I shot that image while in a canoe heading for Angel Falls. It was incredible.” 

Maia Nero’s “Mother’s Wings”

The final painting, “Mothers Wings” represents for Nero “a light of hope.” The artist’s mother, who loved butterflies, had recently passed away. Nero “found” her mother in the jungle.

“A butterfly arrived on my wet hiking shoes and left before I found my camera. When I returned, the butterfly had disappeared. I stomped my feet and cried, ‘Please Mom, I’m here, come back!’  Within seconds the butterfly landed on my shoes, where everyone else’s belongings were drying from a canoe trip. The butterfly went inside my shoes, never touching anyone else’s belongings.”


She took one refurbished piano…

By , June 13, 2013 2:25 pm

… some primer, a little paint, 15 discarded music books, 1/3 gallon of glue, and created one of the 88 pianos re-envisioned by artists for Sing for Hope (a public arts organization in NYC). The artist responsible for this piano is Art and Design Dean’s Office staff member Amy Bauer.

In February Bauer submitted a proposal to be chosen as a Sing for Hope artist. She envisioned tearing pages from vintage music books and covering an entire piano with them. It’s in keeping with an artistic process that involves using discarded paper for works that have nostalgic and recycling themes.  

Being fine tuned

In March, Bauer received confirmation that her proposal was accepted. April and May were spent working on her masterpiece.

Being prepared for the elements

Until June 15 Bauer’s piano will remain outdoors for anyone to admire and/or play. The  piano will then be donated to a school or community center in NYC. 

Current location: On the porch of the Van Cortlandt House Museum in the Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx.

Tickling the keys.   Photo: Richard Hecht

Sunday, June 16 all of the pianos will be located at the Josie Robertson Plaza at Lincoln Center for a free all-day celebration from 11:30 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.


For more information about Amy Bauer, her piano  and art work visit:

Photos by Amy Bauer

Stitcher and singer Rosario Rizzo

By , February 14, 2013 7:13 pm

The gowns, dresses and a harem outfit designed by the late FIT instructor Rosario Rizzo are now on display in the Pomerantz (D) lobby. Professors Anne Kong and Glenn Sokoli of the Visual Presentation and Exhibition Design Department helped create a narrative for “The Master and His Muse” through the use of color and style representative of each era.

“The most interesting part of doing the exhibit was hearing about the history and life of Rosario Rizzo and how his wife Rose told the story, and then bringing to life the collection. Each garment represents a milestone in their lives,” said Professor Sokoli.

Rosario Rizzo was praised in American fashion for his fine hand-sewing, tailoring and embellishment techniques. He was also an opera singer and dedicated husband to Rose, who shared his passions and livelihood.

“Glenn and I strove to capture the time period of the garments through the styling, the hair and accessories to best illustrate for the viewer the era. The first garment we documented  is 1965 and the latest was 1987.”

- Anne Kong

Rizzo designed ensembles from silks, laces, rich wool and opulent brocades, with the finest surface detailing.  He considered every aspect of his client, her body type, coloring and the event she was attending. He draped the garment lining directly on his customer.

“The interiors of the garments were so finished off, the stitch work was so fine. We were amazed by the detail. That’s really where you get to appreciate the art of what he did.”

- Anne Kong 

 Most full-coverage beading was done on blocks, before the final garment was sewn, worked from under the frame unseen, much of which Rizzo did himself.  All the finishing was hand sewn in tiny, evenly spaced stitches. Seam allowances never showed, and unlined garments were all hand-bound.

Rose Rizzo

At the exhibit opening, Professor Sokoli had Rose stand on the red carpet with replicas of herself throughout the decades. “She still wears the clothes. Her husband designed the suit she’s wearing  in the photo with hand-beaded pockets,” says Sokoli

Rizzo was born to Italian immigrant parents in the Bronx. The family was rich with culture and hand craftsmanship. Rosario learned sewing from his mother and made wedding dresses for relatives and outfits for a girlfriend before attending Needle Trades High School on West 25 Street.

 “You know it was so much about the detail. He was like a sculptor the way he draped on the body.”

– Anne Kong

Rizzo showed singing ability at a young age. He sang on Italian radio, with the Metropolitan Opera school’s theater group, and at Carnegie Hall. It was his singing teacher, Maestro Fernando Maero, who introduced Rizzo to Rose Colaianni. The two shared many interests. Colaianni had studied mandolin, piano, singing and acting, and was also a graduate of Needle Trades High School.

“We learned from Rose that Rosario initially took jobs in fashion to pay for opera lessons. When he opened his own atelier she came to work for him.  She was there, side-by-side Rosario as he custom designed his couture fashions.”   – Glenn Sokoli

“Rose wore the red dress with the rhinestone belt [above] to President Jimmy Carter’s inaugural ball. Rosairo and Rose hobnobbed with many politicians like Tip O’Neil and Mayor Koch. I referenced from photos  of Rose wearing these gowns to create her actual hairstyles. Rose told us that Rosario did her hair and makeup for the major events they attended.” – Glenn Sokoli

In 1958 Rizzo proposed to Colaianni. He gave up his singing career and opened his atelier in Queens, where he and Rose began married life.

In 1993 Rizzo began teaching at FIT’s Fashion Design Department. He and Rose created and taught the wedding gown and beading courses in the School for Continuing and Professional Studies, as well as a range of fashion design courses. In 2000 he created the couture techniques certificate program designed to immerse students in couture hand sewing techniques through to the finished garment.

“Rose wore this  saffron and white beaded coat and dress ensemble [above] at a New Year’s gala, where she descended down a two-story marble staircase. The whole room turned and looked…What you don’t get from looking at this is that the gown weighs approximately 60 pounds.”

- Glenn Sokoli

Rosario and Rose said their life together was like a fairy tale. They were nearly inseparable for over 50 years. They traveled extensively, attended red carpet events, political parties and inaugural balls of presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan.

“We wanted to create the atmosphere of his atelier by creating two large-scale doors, and then detailing them with two ‘Rs’ representing the unity between Rosairo and Rose, which are also the designer’s initials.”

- Anne Kong

Known throughout the world for his couture technique classes, Rizzo and his wife and muse Rose, inspired a generation of students with exquisite workmanship and skill.

photos: Alessandro Casagli & Rachel Ellner

The exhibit “The Master and His Muse” is open to the public until March 10.  The Pomerantz building is located on the corner of 27th and 7th Avenue.  

Shefelman’s Ooze

By , December 3, 2012 1:24 pm

Dan Shefelman is an illustration department professor who understands the bottom of the food chain. He writes the comic strip “Ooze,” which appears in the current December issue of Mad magazine.

Professor Shefelman’s microbial view fits well with Gary Larson’s (of “The Far Side”).  If you think that Larson’s cows are smarter than the typical political leader, Shefelman, does one better — he has bacteria that are smarter. Imagine your bar date reproducing so fast that you’ll wish you went dutch when the bill comes?

by Dan Shefelman © E.C. Publications, Inc.

To find out more of what happens to Chico Paramecium on his blind date with Cilia Flagella, check out Mad magazine’s December issue on the stands, or to view it free (“What me worry?”) at the FIT library.

Image used with permission from Mad magazine.


Amy Bauer at D’s Soul Full Cafe

By , September 7, 2012 9:27 am

D’s Soul Full Cafe in Hoboken is referred to by its employee-turned-co-owner, Dwight Thompson, as a “sandwich shop experience.” But menu items like “the famous hangover cure,” and “the weird New Jersey” suggest something more than a stop for a turkey on rye.  “D’s” showcases the work of local artists and musicians to great fanfare. This month they will host a solo show of FIT staff member and artist Amy Bauer’s conceptual environmental designs and paintings.

Amy Bauer’s 2″ X 2″ canvases

So come for the quinoa & kale salad or the blueberry coffee (other menu items), but stay to view Bauer’s  works, which the Hoboken resident says  “represent my eclectic style and urban surroundings,” and employs  “a natural flow of traditional craft with an environmental twist.”

"Raw" by Amy Bauer

The opening night party is tonight, Friday, September 7th from 6:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.   “D’s” sandwiches and sweets from Christopher Street Cookies will be served.  Soft drinks, coffee and tea will be available at special discounts.

Ms. Bauer’s works will be on view at “D’s” through the month of September.

D’s Soul Full Cafe is located at 918 Willow Avenue Hoboken, NJ 07030


photos by Amy Bauer

Art & Design’s Sass Brown Appointed Acting Assistant Dean

By , August 13, 2012 4:39 pm

Sass Brown, our new Acting Assistant Dean, has been appointed to replace Dr. Erika Massaquoi, who left in April.  Brown is student-conscious,  eco-conscious,  a dedicated promoter of sustainable fashion, and about to publish her second book on eco fashion and accessories.

Acting Assistant Dean Sass Brown

“She not only has her heart in the right place but her intelligence and creativity as well,” says Dean Joanne Arbuckle. “Assistant Dean Brown has great knowledge of our fashion programs, and will be an enormous asset.”

Brown has been the Resident Director for FIT’s study abroad program in Florence and a full-time professor in the Fashion Design department. Brown received her BA in fashion design from Ravensbourne College of Art and Design  in the U.K. and her master’s in Global Fashion Management from FIT.

Before entering academia, Brown was a designer with her own signature collection in the U.K. and Canada. She has published papers and spoken around the world on the topic of sustainable design, worked and volunteered in women’s cooperatives in South America, and taught workshops for manufacturers and fashion enterprises throughout South America and China.

Her first book, “Eco Fashion,” has been translated into Italian and Spanish.

“We’ve moved way beyond organic cotton T-shirts and baggy hemp pants,” she says. “Today, eco fashion must be chic, with materials and production truly sustainable, not only in procurement but also in processing and disposal.”


Photo credit:  Kah Poon

Mark Lesseraux’s blend of pop, rock, blues and everything in between

By , July 24, 2012 4:38 pm

The news and culture website Interrobang, has lavished praise on FIT’s own Mark Lesseraux and his second solo CD “Transmissions 2003-2012″:

“Mark Lesseraux has been one of the best kept secrets in music for the better part of a decade. An outstanding singer, lyricist and musician, Mark’s off-kilter blend of pop, rock, blues and everything in between has made him a mainstay on the New York independent music scene.”

- Interrobang

Mark Lesseraux

Talent gets spread around pretty thick at FIT, and among staff there’s no exception.  By day, Lesseraux is the School of Art & Design’s technician and model coordinator. During what he calls his “batman hours,” he writes and records  at a studio in the Bronx. On his latest CD he sings, plays percussion, guitar and keyboard.

“It’s quite good to be alive/In these tough confusing times/Cuz they’re the times with you and I/Look around you and you’ll see the signs/Of a compassionate design/Underneath the grit and grind”

from “”It’s Quite Good to Be Alive”

"Transmissions 2003-2012" Mark Lesseraux's new CD

“It has something for everyone,” say the writers at Interrobang.

“Transmissions is a perfect entry in the brilliant mind of Mark Lesseraux,” they conclude.

Lesseraux will be performing songs from his new CD at Rockwood Music Hall in Manhattan on September 9th at 8 p.m. For more information go to:

Happy for Her, Sad for Us

By , April 20, 2012 6:41 pm

Today was Dr. Erika Massaquoi’s last day at FIT. Our Assistant Dean is relocating to the West Coast shortly.  We will miss her.

A last look

Dean Arbuckle, Emma Richman, Erika Massaquoi, Kim Loconto, Rachel Ellner, Amy Bauer (photo: Deborah Klesenski)

Parting shot


Photos: Rachel Ellner


A big mention for Oded Hirsch

By , November 18, 2011 3:41 pm

“Crafty, nostalgic, highly inefficient yet still somehow emancipatory and sublime––provides an apt metaphor for the exhibition” — is how art critic Kaelen Wilson-Goldie describes Oded Hirsch’s  bridge, the center piece in his video “Tochka.”

Hirsch, a staff member in the Photography department, received favorable mention for the video in ArtForum, the  international magazine that specializes in contemporary art. “Tochka” is part of the exhibition “The Workers,” currently on view at the Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams, MA.

“I feel lucky, especially since it’s very warm words from a prominent art publication,” says Hirsch.

"Bridge Cross" by Oded Hirsch

Wilson-Goldie hailed the piece as one of the most successful in the show.  “One of the more striking pieces in this ten-month-long exhibition on the pleasures, sorrows, and increasingly precarious conditions of work, Tochka also offers the most poetic interpretation of the show’s multiple and competing themes.”

"Pushers" by Oded Hirsch

Hirsch’s exhibit is on display until March 15, 2012. For more information: go to:  MASS MoCA


photos provided by Oded Hirsch

Happy Halloween!

By , October 31, 2011 4:15 pm

Wishing you many happy surprises! From the staff of Art & Design.

Maya bewitched

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