Holding a teddy bear hostage while flaunting an arcade machine gun and goggles may be a geek’s mojo. It’s also a characterization of video game-obsessive Hyoung, a close friend of student illustrator Giancarlo Alicea. “Hyoung has a vivid imagination and a wry wit. He’s a happy guy who is also serious and driven,” says Alicea who sought classical means to capture his friend’s duality.
“Hyoung Uncommon” was a product of “classical portraits re-imagined,” Prof. John Nickle’s assignment for a fifth semester illustration class. Students applied classical painting techniques and a “contemporary spin,” to an acrylic painting. It struck Alicea as an opportunity “to make a post-apocalyptic video game character seem magnanimous.”
Alicea chose a pharaonic pose and an undefined background, so that the focus would remain on his subject — a trick of the old masters. “The lack of extraneous detail helped focus the piece.”
Says Prof. Nickle, “The portrait of Hyoung is both sensitive and comical.”
Alicea completed an early drawing, “mapping the value relationships and figuring out composition.” He then worked on an “in-progress monotone painting,” a technique “of painting in values first in order to glaze in colors on top. It helps give the final painting good luminosity.”
“I love seeing the sketch with the finish to reveal some of his process,” says Prof. Nickle. “Giancarlo made constant revisions to the finished painting, which continued even after the semester ended.”
From the earliest concepts to the actual painting, says Alicea, “Prof. Nickle was a source of wisdom and support. Without his help I wouldn’t have had ‘Hyoung Uncommon’ in my portfolio.”
There are two garish babes bursting with vanity and a gloating cross-legged, primed prima dona. There are the furious fat spider, a he-man who boasts, and a lecherous pair of wide-open mouths sporting minks’ teeth. An ominous, famished figure sits eerily among them while a lazy daydreamer lies pathetic and inert.
Jealousy, vanity, famine, greed and rage are on display in terrifying, cartoonish proportions on the 3rd floor of the Pomerantz center. These creatures originated in Professor Dan Shefelman’s contemporary media class.
A group of very self-absorbed, miserable louts share space together.
Pandora’s original box came with a heavy lock. These evils are contained in a plexiglass covered display case.
The dysfunctional contents of Pandora’s Box.
photos: Dan Shefelman
Two days after Hurricane Sandy struck on October 31, fine arts students Lydia Maria Zackery, Jessica Planter and Eric Gottshall headed to John Jay High School to bring aid and cheer to seniors and youngsters. The school, in Park Slope Brooklyn, had been turned into a temporarily shelter for Red Hook and Coney Island residents. After assisting seniors, the students applied their artistry to face-painting youngsters for a Halloween bash with live music and treats.
“I’m an abstract expressionist, so she got a wild face makeover, ” said Zackery about the little girl on the right with a debonair mustache.
“I live in Crown Heights and we weren’t affected at all. But to walk 45 minutes to Park Slope and see people being evacuated to there from Staten Island and Red Hook gave us a dose of reality,” said Zackery.
There was help along the way. Zackery stopped at Seventh Avenue Art Supplies in Park Slope on her way to the makeshift shelter. “I told the owner what we were doing and he said ‘Take whatever you can use,’” said Zackery. It was another generous act without the fanfare that would follow.
photos provided by Lydia Maria Zackery
Once a high school senior has her date for the prom, she focuses next on her gown, shoes and accessories. “I rejoice in seeing young people get dolled up to go to the prom. I didn’t go to mine,” says Shaniqua Matthews-McClam, Coordinator of the Interior Design Department.
But what happens when a fashion indulgence for the Big Dance isn’t affordable? Matthews-McClam tends to that inevitability. On May 5, her organization, L.A.C.E. Leading Ladies, oversaw the giveaway of over 1,340 prom and graduation dresses along with shoes and accessories at C.S.21 in Brooklyn (making it a four-fold increase from last year’s prom dress giveaway.) It meant a lot of dolling up and a lot of rejoicing.
Prom dress giveaways are not new, says Matthews-McClam, but are rarer in less affluent neighborhoods. She’s quick to give a shout-out to all the stores and individuals who supplied the Leading Ladies with many top brand gowns and accessories. “There was Macy’s, Forever Yours, Open Ceremony, family, friends, neighborhood stores.” A raffle was held for a custom-designed gown donated by designer Gwen Beloti who attended the event.
Whether a rite of passage, a lavish indulgence, or just an outrageous night out, the prom has special resonance for teenagers and their families. Proms were the subject of two recent guest lectures at FIT. Mary Ellen Mark’s presentation of a four-year project photographing proms across the country was followed by the film “Prom” made by her husband, the filmmaker Martin Bell. In October, photojournalist Gillian Laub (see previous post) discussed her New York Times photo essay of the until recently segregated proms at Montgomery County High School in Georgia.
Matthews-McClam’s event was an artistic success as well. And the press took notice. Brooklyn New York 12, New York Daily News and BCAT television station have all done features on the prom dress giveaway. This year students from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism produced the video “Prom, Cinderella Style” about the Leading Ladies work for their publication Brooklyn Inc. The video features Kira Marie Britt (shown in first photo above).
“Every time I am interviewed people ask me ‘Why dresses? Why fashion through philantropy?’ I love fashion. Any time I have felt down or needed a change in life, I went and purchased a new item. It made me feel better. I am not promoting shopaholics. I truly believe people are at their best when they are looking good and confident. To look good is too feel good.” It’s a statement that bodes well for another fashion windfall for next year’s prom.
Photos courtesy of L.A.C.E. Leading Ladies
For Visual Presentation and Exhibition Design Professor Veronica Romano, “presentation and packaging is everything.” Except that Romano has a discernible palate, and an herb garden in her backyard, so what’s inside has to taste great too.
- Veronica Romano with Temptress Truffle Popcorn
The excellently packaged and deliciously tasting Temptress Truffle Popcorn is a product right out of Professor Romano’s kitchen and garden.
“Just making popcorn one night for friends, loving truffle oil, and wanting to create a popcorn that was healthy and not full of fat,” is how Romano describes the origins of Temptress Truffle Popcorn.
“I brought it to the PAVE board meeting and we served it with Godiva truffles. We had a truffle party!” says Romano who also treats her students and the Art & Design staff to her gourmet popcorn.
- From garden to kitchen to presentation
“I get inspired by materials I have around,” says the wonderfully obsessed Romano describing her cone-shaped, snowflake-designed, parchment paper packaging. Romano put to use a snowflake stamp she and her students received at the Martha Stewart Show as well as her corporate holiday gift stamp. “I like working with available resources that I have at hand, and things from nature. There’s so much around us that we can use.”
photos by Rachel Ellner w/ photo styling help from Anne Kong
Artist, collaborator, and educator, Tim Rollins, and two members of Kids of Survival (K.O.S.) talked about the history and philosophy of K.O.S at FIT last week. In 1982, Rollins first launched a workshop called Art and Knowledge workshop in the South Bronx. There at- risk youth created art work based on great works of literature. Numerous biennials and museum shows followed. Their latest exhibition in 2009, was a group retrospective at Tang Teaching Museum at Skidmore College.
Fine Arts department instructors had this to say:
“Their creative path, one in which the core of the art practice involves teaching, working with, and motivating kids to pursue excellence in what they do and how they think of themselves was inspiring,” said Professor Jean Feinberg.
“When Tim talked about taking Bronx students who had never been below 125 Street on a whirlwind tour of MoMA and asking what they remembered, and one them asked about ‘the black painting about God’; when Carlos’ face lit up when he recalled seeing the work of Robert Ryman the first time; when Tim said he believed he would achieve more not by meeting his students on their level–graffiti–but on his of art history–those were special moments that spoke to me about the educational importance of exposure to culture and maintaining high expectations,” said John Allen.
“Listening to Tim Rollins tell his story of K.O.S. brought to mind some
lines of a poem by Rilke: ‘I live my life in widening circles that reach out across the world.’ Tim does just this…He has a widening impact on peoples’ lives,” said Professor Joel Werring.
For more about Tim Rollins and K.O.S. go to the website of the Lehmann Maupin Gallery.
This visiting artist talk was part of the ARTSpeak series at FIT, in which artists discuss diversity and artistic practice, and is sponsored by the Fine Arts Department, the President’s Diversity Council, and the Dean’s Office.
Jane Gennaro has long been observing, speaking about, and creating works of art based on underfed fashion models. Her work “Feed the Models: The Scissor Drawings of Jane Gennaro,” includes images cut from fashion magazines, sculptural variations with bones and science glass, and large scale prints on metallic surfaces.
“When does it go from all the fun of dress up and playing with make-up and making your own doll clothes and your own outfits to ‘I hate my body?’” questions Gennaro.
Gennaro has provided commentary for National Public Radio’s (NPR) All Things Considered in 2002. In addition to creating art, Gennaro is a writer, performer, cartoonist, voice-over artist, and illustrator. Her body of work includes storytelling and poetry, and addresses issues of femininity, media representations of the physical body and the fashion industry’s use of extremely thin models.
“When I cut out these models I’m manipulating the media, instead of it manipulating me. It’s like ‘You want skinny–I’ll show you skinny!’ So it leaves this DNA strip — as in Definitely Not Anorexic!” jokes Gennaro about her artistic process.
What-When-Where: “Feed the Models” will be on view: Fred P. Pomerantz Art and Design Center, Seventh Avenue at 27th Street. 11/2 – 1/26; Performance and discussion: Thursday, 11/ 1/11.
On October 20, Gillian Laub showed work from her NY Times photo essay on segregated proms at Montgomery County High School. The lecture, sponsored by the Photography Department, is part of the Photo Talks lecture series. Although the south-Central Georgia high school was integrated in 1971, the prom had remained a “separate but equal” type affair long after that.
The school did finally integrate its prom into one dance. But Laub’s equipment has not yet been returned. It was grabbed from her by a sheriff who demanded to know the newspaper she was working for.
Laub also showed photos from other work, including a series of portraits that reflect the physical harm caused by the violence of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
photo used with permission
On October 6th, representatives from the School’s baccalaureate programs, Admissions, Registrar, and the School of Liberal Arts were on hand to great prospective students at the BFA Fair in the Great Hall.
Packaging Design, Chair Marianne Klimchuk & Assoc. Prof. Sandra Krasovec
“Design firms uniquely tackle how to garner the attention of myriad audiences who are, quite simply, distracted,” noted Asst. Dean Erika Massaquoi. “Hence, there is a premium on information and experience-oriented design that can grab audiences, communicate effectively, and service clients.”
Associate Profs. of Communication Design Federun Scholz & Elvin Kince
“The AIGA has identified this as a trend towards an ‘attention economy,’” said Massaquoi. “Thus it is not surprising that this year we saw a further spike of interest in Graphic Design—I believe the velocity of media has garnered this student interest.”
Asst. Chair Prof. Kam Mak with prospective Illustration students
Fashion Design Apparel Prof. Eileen Karp welcoming interested students
Photos by Dr. Erika Massaquoi