For Raissa Oliveira-Silva, a #ChalkFIT drawing imitates a viral sensation

There’s no better place to state your claim about  cultural domination than on the 7th Avenue in New York City.

A 3X6-foot chalk representation of the meme “Chloe” by Illustration senior Raissa Oliveira-Silva is still going through finishing touches on the outside wall of FIT.  Photos of Oliveira-Silva’s work have been posted to social media causing a second viral wave, and attracting the notice of Chloe’s mother.

“Chloe,” by Raissa Oliveira-Silva

“This really proves my point. Social media is taking over the world,” says Oliveira-Silva, with brush in hand. Hers is one of nearly 50 chalk drawings that are part of #ChalkFIT that address the theme “Innovation.”

A YouTube video of Chloe and her sister become an internet  sensation shortly after being posted in September 12, 2013. It was then picked up as a popular meme.

In the YouTube video Chloe’s mom, Katie Clem, suggests to her two young daughters that they “ditch” school and go to Disneyland. One daughter is so happy she cries. But Chloe looks .

If you can be unmoved by going to Disneyland before having outgrown a car seat, you can own the world. Or at least with social media, you can attain beyond 15 minutes of fame.

“Katie Clem, Khloe’s mom, has been in touch with me and loves it. She’s commenting and posting the image on social media,” says Prof. Shefelman who assigned and is overseeing ChalkFIT .

To see more chalk images follow our Twitter account @FIT_artdesign.

Photo: Rachel Ellner

Jacob Morse helped with the reporting for this post.

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Dean Arbuckle on Simone Cipriani & The Hand of Fashion series

“We’re so excited to have forged this collaboration with Simone Cipriani and the Ethical Fashion Initiative,” said Dean Joanne Arbuckle following Cipriani’s talk last night with Nina Braga, Director of Institoe E. “His discussions with renowned speakers address critical aspects of design, projection and social responsibility.

Simone Cipriani and Dean Joanne Arbuckle
Simone Cipriani and Dean Joanne Arbuckle

Cipriani heads the Ethical Fashion Initiative, a flagship program of the International Trade Center, which is a joint agency of the United Nations and World Trade Organization.

“The engagement between the audience, Simone and our speakers reflect our rich relationship with the broader fashion community both locally and globally,” says Dean Arbuckle.

Last night Ms. Braga, Cipriani’s second guest in the series, spoke about the environmental evaluation of fabrics native to Brazil. One of the more unexpected “fabrics” is fish skin from a native species that would otherwise be a discarded byproduct.

“There is a logic to the collaboration with FIT and the UN,” says Associate Dean Sass Brown. The UN promotes education to fulfill it’s mission. “Without education you don’t have peace and prosperity. As part of the state university system our mission is to be accessible to a diverse population of students.”

There’s so much more to come from Simone Cipriani’s “The Hand of Fashion” speaker series at FIT. For schedule and speaker bios go to: The Hand of Fashion. And remember to RSVP!

photo: Rachel Ellner

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Misery loves company in the Pomerantz Center

The world’s evils, appearing in 3D, are currently on display on the third floor of the Pomerantz Center. It was Pandora of Greek mythology who disobeyed Zeus by opening a box of evils. Prof. Dan Shefelman finds evil to be the perfect character design assignment for students in his Illustrating for Contemporary Media class.

“Greed,” by Nicolette Pasumbal

“It’s always exciting to see where this assignment takes students,” says Shefelman. “It taps into this visceral reaction to the troubling parts of life. It runs the gamut from horror to humor.” This is the fourth year Shefelman has assigned the Pandora project.

"Misery," by Caitlin McDonagh
“Misery,” by Caitlin McDonagh

“These unique imaginings are based upon each student’s experience as an artist and a person,” says Ed Soyka, Chair of Illustration. “Each image is a compromise from among all the options and choices available through the creative process.”

Illustration student Caitlin McDonagh modified Ken doll pants above for her “Misery” figure. The “Hunger” figures  below by Tenzin Gonpo are made of modeling clay so they won’t dry out.

“Hunger,” by Tenzin Gonpo

“They’re mesmerizing,” says Kristin Chidiak an Advertising and Marketing Communications major, as she starred intently into the display case. “You can see their perspectives. It’s what I love about Illustration majors. I really believe in all their futures!”

“Hunger.” by Kayelyn Wright

“I thought  Kayelyn Wright’s figure (above) is a different interpretation of hunger than one might expect,” says Shefelmen. “She’s hungering for empowerment.”

Chidiak agrees. “I’d like to see the story behind Kayelyn’s ‘Hunger’ in a Pixar film. Some claymation concept would be really cool!”

“Pain.” by Cindy De La Cruz

Cindy De La Cruz’s character is “minimal but communicates pain,” says Shefelman.

"Hunger," by Jessica Lauser
“Hunger,” by Jessica Lauser

“I picked famine,” says Jessica Lauser. “I pictured a skinny, gangling monster with a big mouth but wired so it couldn’t eat.”

"Disease," by Alexandra Lobo
“Disease,” by Alexandra Lobo

“His tooth keeps falling out but it seemed appropriate,” says Shefelman about Alexandra Lobo’s “Disease” character.

Dan Schfelman holding "Murder," by Tareque Powaday
Dan Shefelman holding “Murder,” by Tareque Powaday

“It’s just so cuddly you want to pick him up,” says Prof. Shefelman of Tareque Powaday’s character. “It’s the classic murder doll in the Chucky tradition.”

“Misery,” by Jianrong Lin

Jianrong Lin’s rendition of Pandora’s Box is carved out of balsa wood, lit with LED.

“It’s an awesome assignment. It’s very open for interpretation,” says first-year Illustration major Jacob Morse who looks forward to the Pandora assignment. “The myth says famine comes out of the box. But what does it look like?  The 3D form really indicates what each trait is all about.”

“Famine,” Kelsey Egan

“She went to the wilderness of Michael’s” says Prof Shefelman of Kelsey Egan’s display “Famine.”

So the results of Pandora’s disobedience were not all bad after all. Every cloud has a silver lining…but until now it’s been ugh to illustrate.

To see earlier evils from Pandora’s Box go to: Contents of Pandora’s box recaptured


photos: Rachel Ellner

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Simone Cipriani’s student invitation to “The Hand of Fashion”

Simone Cipriani has worked worldwide on behalf of responsible, sustainable industrial development in emerging economies. His deep expertise is in fashion, an industry that is often the first stop as a country develops a manufacturing and logistics base. His pioneering toils at the World Trade Organization have taken him to inform broader United Nations programs, mainly related to the UN’s Millennium Development Goals. Cipriani is an Italian citizen residing in Switzerland.

Simone Cipriani’s speaker series at FIT begins October 26. For speaker bios and schedule go to: The Hand of Fashion


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A book fair for devotees of art and design

Last weekend’s Designers and Books Fair brought a capacity crowd of students, faculty, and a great many other design devotees for book browsing and presentations.  It was a star-studded Art and Design School affair. The Who’s Who and the Who‐Will be Who’s of the publishing design world were in attendance.

Attendees came to leaf through and touch (yes touch!) the pages of stimulating and daring design books, many available at hefty discounts. Among book signers were Steven Heller, Demetrios Eames, Chip Kidd and Andre Leon Talley. To no one’s surprise, Milton Glaser brought down (so to speak) the Katie Murphy Amphitheater with audience enthusiasm and admiration.

FIT Communications Design Prof. Keith Godard of typography and environmental graphics at the Les Trois Ourses (The Three Bears) book table with three helpers.

“As visual and tactile practitioners, it was great for us to touch the books,” says Dean Joanne Arbuckle. You’re making a more personal connection to the books’ content and glorying in  the design and thought process.  Some of the books were even designed to be touched.”

Typography and environmental graphics professor and author Keith Godard (above) manned the Les Trois Ourses table. “They are most unusual books in form and shape, at heart interactive and playful with a simplicity that appeals to children” And, we might add, to deans and professors!

Andrea Kiliany Thatcher of Schiffer Fashion Press holding two of the publisher’s giveaways.

Many established publishing houses stylishly showcased design books that beckoned creatives. “We’re always looking to discover new artists and new writers,” said Andrea Kiliany Thatcher of Schiffer Fashion Press.

Hamish Smyth and Jesse Reed
Hamish Smyth and Jesse Reed

Hamish Smyth and Jesse Reed, partners in the design firm Pentagram, signed copies of their reissue of the 1970s MTA signage design manual. The last of its kind it’s currently available in full- and compact-size.  Speaking on a panel about crowd-sourcing campaigns for publishing design books, Smyth said “The subject matter  is esoteric for a general audience. It’s understandable it’s not a fit for a traditional publisher.”

Said Craig Berger, Chair of Visual Presentation and Exhibition Design:

“It was great to see designers who have dedicated part of their careers to introducing great design of the past to the world. Of particular note are Smyth and Reed who discovered one of the great design treasures and endeavored to make it accessible to the world.”

PatrickJoanne -l_6671

Attendees and guest speakers received gracious welcome from FIT deans Joanne Arbuckle of the School of Art and Design and Patrick Knisley of Liberal Arts.

“It’s wonderful to have great colleagues who support such broad initiatives like this,” says Dean Arbuckle. “This brings together visual, scholarship and the huge talent from the design world for a lasting experience.”

Wendy Goodman, design editor, New York magazine with Dean Joanne Arbuckle, School of Art and Design

“It’s so gratifying to connect with those who write so eloquently about design talent especially here in New York City, FIT’s home,” said Dean Arbuckle following the Architecture and Drawing panel discussion.

Fair-goers hunkering down
Fair-goers hunkering down

“I came to get my Milton Glaser fix,” says Suzanne Anoushian, chair of Communications Design. “He talked about the newer iterations of books and where they will go. He continues to talk about design and things I need to hear.”

Milton Glaser seated, with Steven Heller
Milton Glaser seated, with Steven Heller. Photo: Rachel Ellner

“The idea of something existing in the mind and making it material is most exhilarating…Drawing is about inventing what you’re looking at.” – Celebrated graphic designer Milton Glaser

Communications Design student Julian Acevedo with designer DJ Stout
A keep-sake of the experience Communications Design student Julian Acevedo created from meeting renowned designer DJ Stout

Said Communications Design student Julian Acevedo:

Being around old and recently published books, as well as hearing Milton Glaser talk, was a way for me to get involved more deeply in design. I go to as many events, lectures and galleries as I can to keep my work fresh. But I also spend a lot of time at the bookshelves looking at works from past movements of art and design. One never knows what will spark inspiration’s fire. I got a copy of DJ Stout’s just-published, ‘Variations on a Rectangle,’ which showcases some of his work from the past 30 years. I find it very inspiring.”

Designer & Books Fair attendee book clusterers were at every table in the John E. Reeves Great Hall
The crowd at Designers & Books Fair 2015 in the John E. Reaves Great Hall
The crowd at Designers & Books Fair in the John E. Reaves Great Hall

“I know I spent a small fortune. There were too many great books and fabulous opportunities,” says Associate Dean Sass Brown. “I’m still carrying them home!” Laurence King Publishing had Ms. Brown’s two books on eco-fashion for an unprecedented half off.

Gail Bichler, Michael Famighetti, Charlotte Strick with Lucke Hayman
Charlotte Strick, Michael Famighetti and Gail Bichler

A conversation about design is not complete without old media magazine and newspaper design directors and editors. From left to right, The Paris Review art editor, Aperture magazine editor, New York Times Magazine design director.

Graphic design writer Steven Heller brought to the audience’s attention Czech-born Ladislav Sutnar, founder of information design and a “lost master.” Heller’s facsimile of “Visual Design in Action,” a book Sutnar originally self-published was available at the Fair.

Czech-born legendary designer Ladislav Sutnar

Philip Pearlstein who worked with Sutnar talked about Sutnar’s involvement in the Bauhaus movement and having started his own school based on practical design. “His greatest contribution to civilization are the boys and girls symbols for restrooms.” Other designs he invented that we take for granted include the area code parenthesis and airport symbols, less meant for glory than helping humanity. “His credo was that design could improve life.”

Ben Yarling, Ryan Essmaker, Molly Butterfoss, Peter Meehan, Ruth Jamieson
Ben Yarling, Ryan Essmaker, Molly Butterfoss, Peter Meehan, Ruth Jamieson

The emphasis on ink was cathartic for many. A session on “What it Takes” included Indie pub editors and an art director (from left to right above) American Chordata and The Great Discontent, Pitchfork, and Lucky Peach, moderated by author of “Print Is Dead. Long Live Print.” They discussed culling expertise and funding, design versus photography (“also cartoons are cool,”) and how big your staff should be.

One takeaway: Lucky Peach does not yet have the funds to hire the likes of David Foster Wallace to write about lobster. But all hope to offer contributors good pay. Finally, “Don’t not be on the internet because you want to be cool,” said Meehan. “It’s faster to find an audience online.”

Book lovers browsed leisurely to the last minute.

Book lovers browsed leisurely up to the last minute…


While the next generation kept a keen eye on design and book sales.

Photos: Rachel Ellner


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Designers & Books at FIT Day 2

Dean Arbuckle and the School of Art & Design invite you to Day 2 of

Designers & Books Fair 2015!

Milton Glaser (sitting) with Steven Heller
Milton Glaser (sitting) with Steven Heller

“Drawing is not about replicating what you see. It is about inventing what you see,” – Milton Glaser

“The public is finally recognizing the ‘creative’ in the modern design and innovation world. There are so many creative people at FIT and its neighborhood.” – Dean Joanne Arbuckle, School of Art & Design

The crowd at Designers & Books Fair 2015 in the John E. Reaves Great Hall
The crowd at Designers & Books Fair 2015 in the John E. Reaves Great Hall


Photos: Rachel Ellner


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Three photography faculty exhibits break ground

Watertown, CT, Governors Island and Provincetown are all locations with relevance to the subjects of three September exhibits by photography faculty.  One that takes place at the school of her youth, is deeply introspective. Two others are vast in what they ponder–one’s specific view “through-the-lens” of the Civil War in Yankee territory, and the projection of the gay male body image.

The praise that each has received suggest their relevance extends beyond these specific locations.

“Cherries” by Jessica Wynne at the Potter Gallery, Watertown, CT

“For many of us, the past is a golden place we can always revisit for shelter. Jessica Wynne creates time capsules out of her surrounding world, even as it develops: a moment turns into a legend the instant it is over. Even when picturing others, such as her daughter Molly, I feel she’s re-staging her own memories. These are serene, untouchable pictures, safer than a dream.” –Illustrator, photographer Jorge Colombo, New York City

“Wynne ’90 in Potter Gallery” runs through October 11. Potter Gallery is at The Taft School, 110 Woodbury Rd, Watertown, CT. For gallery times and directions go to: Potter Gallery. Prof. Wynne is an alumna of The Taft School.

"Sky Cannon" by Brad Farwell, Governors Island
“Sky Cannon” installation on Govenors Island by Brad Farwell

“Brad Farwell’s ‘Sky Cannon, 2015,’ is a poetic intervention into the historic military installation at Fort Jay on Governors Island and a surreal reimagining of the objecthood and function of these decommissioned, obsolete weapons. The placement of mirrors in these cannons’ muzzles is a subtle and powerful gesture that a viewer may not see at first. Upon an inevitable second take, they will notice something quite spectacular and uncanny about looking down the barrels of these cannons – seeing bright sky reflected back at them instead of a dark, uninhabited space.” – Melissa Levin, Director of Cultural Programs, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council

EXTENDED through September 27!

“Sky Cannon” is on exhibit through September 22. 27. It is at Fort Jay on Governors Island in New York City. For more information visit: Sky Cannon Govenors Island.

Photo: Ron Amato from "Armor" exhibit at DeLuca Gallery
Photo: Ron Amato from “Armor” exhibit at DeLuca Gallery

Ron Amato’s ‘Armor’ exhibit has had an extraordinary response. Art collectors have been coming to the gallery to specifically see this thought-provoking exhibition. The viewers are incredulous over his use of light, his juxtaposition of his subjects and of course the controversial subject matter.” – Patty DeLuca, owner DeLuca Gallery, Provincetown, MA

“Armor” was on exhibit until September 14 at DeLuca Gallery, located at 432 Commercial St. Provincetown, MA. For more information about the exhibit visit DeLuca Gallery.

Photos used with permission.


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“Silver and I are married”

“When working with silver make it obey you. Smack it around. It’s gotta do what you tell it to. If worse comes to worse tell it you’ll melt it down.”

Heartless words from Wendy Yothers, chair of Jewelry Design department? Or just what comes from a long working relationship with a lustrous metal?

Teapot by Wendy Yothers.  Photo: Richard Duane

“Silver and I are a couple,” says Yothers. “We’ve been together a long time. I’ve had my affair with glass. Silver didn’t worry about it.”

Don’t tell the Pope.

Professor Yothers work is part of the collections at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Corning Museum of Glass, Newark, Victoria and Albert Museum in London … and, yes, the Vatican.

Lightning Bolt Yad, by Wendy Yothes
Lightning Bolt Yad (Torah pointer) by Wendy Yothers.  Photo: Richard Duane

“Silver’s my stalwart life partner.  Silver is handsome and glass is hot,” she professes.

“Both know of each other in my heart and they’re gentlemen. They can sit together and they’re fine. I’m the only one who’s suffering. When they’re done with me they find someone else.”

Challis by Wendy Yothers. Photo: Richard Duane
Chalice by Wendy Yothers. Photo: Richard Duane

Says Professor Yothers, “Someone said to me that it’s quite appropriate to allude to relationships in art. That passion, it comes from a different place. It’s self-renewing. It never burns out.”

The risque duo has really gotten around. Their work together have yielded a chalice for Pope Benedict, a picture frame for the last leader of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev, and a commemorative reliquary for the 82nd Airborn Division, to name a few.

Wendy Yothers planishing a silver cup. Photo: Rachel Ellner
Wendy Yothers planishing a silver cup. Photo:  Rachel Ellner

Professor Yothers is a professional silversmith and process methods engineer. She worked as a silversmith specializing in restoration, prototype making and production smithing for Tiffany & Co. and Kirk Stieff & Co.  She has exhibited widely and received numerous honors and awards. Among the courses she teaches are silversmithing and silversmithing for industrial processes.


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Art from the FIT community 15 floors up!

From the start, artwork was a must for FIT’s new administrative offices at 333 Seventh Avenue.  Written into the plans for the new 22,000 square-foot space are corridors and wall space where art would hang.  Having been mined from faculty, student and alumni archives, photography and artwork now fill the space.

Painting: Kelly Landolina. Photos: Daniel Marcella (left), Danielle Krulik (right)

Prof. Brad Farwell, Photography adjunct, was put to the creative task of curating and hanging the photographs.

“It’s a great opportunity to showcase the talents of FIT’s visual artists, while enhancing the college’s newest space,” says Prof. Farwell.

The work is showcased throughout the 15th floor, where two major college divisions have been relocated: the Office of the General Counsel, and Finance and Administration. The office building is half a block north of the campus.

“The artwork adds vibrance and imagination to a very structured environment,” says Bafemi Silver, a legal assistant in the Office of the General Counsel.

Photo: Untitled (Central Park #2) from the series “After Image” by Brad Farwell

June Ng, director of space management and planning, says “It was always a concept to incorporate art work into the design of the floor.”

Fine Arts professors Jeff Way and Jean Feinberg dug into their archives, mainly accessing work of sophomores and juniors. “The main criteria was the quality of the work,” says Prof. Way.  “The (administrative) staff had some input in the final selection, but we tried to place the work that had the maximum visual impact.”

Photos: Amy Miccio (center), Evelyn Hoffman (right)

Says Prof. Way, “The space there is extensive.  The reception area and the conference rooms are excellent places to showcase the student work, and they’re thrilled to have their work shown in this context.”

Photos: Maria Cristina Gonzales (left), Kenyon Par (right)

Ms. Ng agrees. “We wanted our walls to sing in a way that reflects FIT’s brand and character.” And they do.

Photos courtesy of Brad Farwell


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Dean Arbuckle’s Advice for a “Hot Town” — August in the City

Dear Art and Design Students,

It is indeed “Hot Town. Summer in the City,” as the 60s song goes! But if you pace yourself you’ll be able to take advantage of much that New York City has to offer in the weeks before the start of fall classes.

The City’s cultural events and other resources feed the creativity of all of us. The sights and sounds of the City combined with your innate talent and energy will help your individual vision and make you better students and lifelong forces in our industry.

We have taken to Twitter with some excellent faculty recommendations of exhibits and happenings around New York. I want to mention a few that are current for the month of August, and to add a couple of my own suggestions:

Joanne Arbuckle, Dean of the School of Art and Design [Photo: Deborah Klesenski-Rispoli]
Joanne Arbuckle, Dean of the School of Art and Design [Photo: Deborah Klesenski-Rispoli]

Suggestions from our faculty:

Interior Design Professor Gordon Frey: “Sargent: Portraits of Artists & Friends” at the Met. “It is a great lesson for any form of visual presentation. The artist’s flick of a little bit of white paint creates a whole effect!” For more info:

Accessories Chair Sarah Mullins: “FAILE: Savage Sacred Young Minds,” at the Brooklyn Museum. “They show arcades that play on development of the city,” she says.  For more info:

Textile Design Professor  Susanne Goetz: “The Rise of Sneaker Culture,” also at the Brooklyn Museum “It’s so us as designers!” she says. For more info:

Photography Professor Brad Farwell: The group show “Aperture Summer Open.” “It’s an excellent mix of current photographers all addressing contemporary society and the gap between what we imagine and what we actually manage to create,” says Prof. Farwell. For more info: (’til August 13)

Jewelry Design Chair, Wendy Yothers: “Frida Kahlo: Art, Garden, Life” at the Bronx Botanical Gardens. We can’t ever seem to get enough of this intriguing artist! For more info:

Illustration Design Professor Leslie Cober-Gentry: “Artists Illustrating Artists” at the Society of Illustrators. “It’s interesting to see what artists drew which artists, whether their friends, mentors, or just favorites,” she says.  For more info: (’til August 15)

I have two recommendations to add to the list. The first is, “Everything is Design: The Work of Paul Rand,” at the Museum of the City of New York.  Paul Rand was such an influencer of the design world of the 1930s. It was Rand who brought European influences such as Cubism and avant garde to American design. For more info:

I also suggest the “Yoko Ono: One Woman Show,” at MoMa. I think it portrays Ms. Ono as an icon on many levels, most importantly fashion and contemporary art! For more info:

All of these indoor venues are likely to be air conditioned. For staying cool outdoors, you might consider the endless water path on the Highline!

For students, New York is indeed a hot town! We will continue to post things on Twitter so feel free to follow us @FIT_artdesign.

Have a wonderful rest of the summer!

I look forward to seeing you on campus!


Dean Joanne Arbuckle


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