Don’t let bullies tell you how to heel

OneClique founders Sandy Saccullo and Stefani Tsakos encourage women and girls to walk tall, whether under peer pressure or throughout the day when re-fashioning oneself from formal wear to casual wear is an imperative.

The two hosted a screening of “Finding Kind” yesterday at the Faces & Places in Fashion lecture series taught by Prof. Joshua Williams. The film explores the often devastating consequences of girl-on-girl bullying. Saccullo and Tsakos are sponsoring 10 screenings of the film across the country. The two stayed to discuss their online shoe “separates,” engineered with interchangable heels and uppers.

OneClique founders (in foreground) Stefani Tsakos & Sandy Saccullo with students in the Katie Murphy Amphitheater
OneClique founders (in foreground) Stefani Tsakos & Sandy Saccullo with students in the Katie Murphy Amphitheater

“I think they’re offering customization and versatility that intrigues consumers,” says Accessories Design Chair Sarah Mullins. “The consumer gets to feel like a shoe designer by interchanging OneClique uppers and heels.  Hopefully it inspires future shoe designers to study Accessories Design at FIT!”

The Faces & Places lecture series is a weekly forum that features prominent fashion professionals, including executives, designers and marketers.  It is held in the Katie Murphy Amphitheater (D Building, Corner of 27th Street and 7th Avenue), the series is also open to the public, Mondays, 4pm-5pm.

Photo: Rachel Ellner

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Eight languages have their say in “Four Seasons”

The merged texts in Prof. Suikang Zhao’s “Four Seasons,” appear like a colorful, assertive mix of ancient scripts and orchestral scoring. A lot is wanting to be said in this four-part work in eight languages. It is among over 90 pieces in “New Views: FIT Art and Design Faculty Exhibitin the John E. Reeves Great Hall.

Prof. Zhao’s work in Hebrew, Arabic, Korean, Japanese, Chinese, English, Greek and Russian employs calligraphy, monotype printing, literature and conceptual documentation.

“By using different, overlapping texts, I construct a reality that draws upon the parallels and juxtapositions of today’s cultural fabrication and social structure,” says Fine Arts Prof. Zhao.

Suikong Zhao in front of "Four Seasons"
Prof. Suikang Zhao in front of “The Four Seasons” 

In his artist’s statement Prof. Zhao says that the drawings are spaces “of interwoven reality and cultural displacement, the juxtaposition of unrelated differences, the connection and disconnection…the fragmentation of familiarity and obscurity, the unknown, the anticipation of rootlessness and the sense of losing the center of traditional value and place.”

Says Prof. Zhao the work represents “the world we live in, or at least the one coming to us in the near future.”

New Views: FIT Art and Design Faculty Exhibit,” runs until March 22 and is open to the public. Hours are from 9 am–9 pm.  The exhibit is located in the John E. Reeves Great Hall of the Fred Pomerantz Art & Design Center. The entrance is on the northwest corner of 28 Street and Seventh Avenue.

See previous post on Prof. Zhao’s work: Suikang Zhao fires up the art in Tacony, PA

Photo: Rachel Ellner

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Moving mosaic cornered by Prof. Brian Emery

Professor Brian Emery’s  “Williamsburg Grid Test,” currently in the faculty exhibit “New Views,” is as captivating and vibrant as a New York City street corner. It is composed of 108, one-minute videos organized in a grid, each of a slightly different view taken at slightly different times.  The setting, movement and chatter, are from a busy street corner in Williamsburg.

Prof. Emery discussed with us his fascination with urban space, explorations in creating “simulations of reality,” the stress of having his equipment kicked, and encouraging students to develop their curiosities.

Williamsburg Grid Test (video still)
Brian Emery’s “Williamsburg Grid Test” (video still)

Q: Can you explain the techniques you use in this work?

Prof. Emery: The videos are arranged to create a panoramic mosaic of the area.  To achieve this I used a single camera that I moved slightly between each shot so that the frames line up and appear as a single photographic space.  In the video the static architectural space is rendered like a photograph while objects in motion appear as fractured moments flashing across the screen.

Ultimately I am redistributing the “arrow of time” across a traditional perspective rendering of space. The general photographic technique of image arrays is fairly common today, especially in scientific photography such as the panoramas from the Mars Rover ( or the Hubble Telescope (

Q. What sparked your interest in this technique?

Prof. Emery: My work has always centered around making pictures out of multiple images.  I have been working with various image array methods for over 10 years, but I began exploring the technique with moving images in the past 2 years.  My curiosity has always been in photography’s reliance on time and its ability to describe it.

Culture tends to think of photography as a frozen moment. It ignores the inevitability of time in our experience of life. I try to find ways to highlight the aspect of time in pictures by fracturing photographic space. Applying the image array concept to video was the natural next step in the exploration.

Brian Emery's "Eyetour Downtown Loop" (digital picture)
Brian Emery’s “Eyetour Downtown Loop” (digital)

Q.  How does your work enhance your teaching?

Prof. Emery: I teach a unit on “panoramic storytelling,” which aims to convey concepts of time and space.  I show many remarkable examples of how time and space is portrayed throughout the history of art, but I rarely ever show my work in class and don’t demonstrate these specific techniques.  I prefer to teach more general methods and allow the students to develop their own curiosities and applications.

Generally speaking, however, I couldn’t teach picture-making without making pictures myself, so my studio practice allows me to guide students through the creative process.

Brian Emery's "Harold Square" (digital picture, detail)
Brian Emery’s “Harold Square” (detail)

Q. You’ve had some very striking, compelling images in other shows at FIT. They seem to show urban life with a tremendous flow of energy, emotion and continuity. Do you feel this “aliveness” while involved in the work? Are you absorbed by that energy you’re capturing?

Prof. Emery: I wouldn’t be drawn to making this work if I wasn’t fascinated by the urban street and the process of representing that experience in various ways.  But, it’s an incredibly stressful experience making these images and video works.  It takes 2-3 hours to capture the imagery and it’s a very precise process which requires a lot of focus.  If I make a mistake or have even a minimal equipment failure, the entire shoot can be wasted.

The device I use to make these pictures is rather big and strange looking.  I often work in densely populated areas and I have to contend with people accidentally kicking my tripod, or questioning my presence as I work.  Last summer I was shooting in Bushwick and a tractor trailer truck couldn’t make a tight turn so he drove up on the sidewalk where I was set up and I had to grab my gear and run out of the way after several hours of shooting.  So, I’m really not absorbed by the energy as much as constantly fighting against it to make the picture.

Brian Emery's "Harold Square" (digital picture"
Brian Emery’s “Harold Square” (digital picture)

Q. Your photos involve the viewer in a unique way. We’re brought into the action, of sometimes chaotic harmony, in a way that feels personal, as if invited. It’s an immediate feeling. Are you aware that your work can be experiential in this way for the viewer?

Prof. Emery: Well, I’m happy to hear you say that.  My goal is to create simulations of reality that allow a viewer to have some sort of experience of being in a place.  I’m fascinated by a souvenir’s ability to transport someone to a memory of a place, whether real or fabricated.  I try to make work that creates a similar aesthetic effect.

Q. Is it fair to say that post production is a forte of yours?

Prof. Emery: Yes, I have a background in photographic retouching, compositing, visual effects and printing.  But my personal work uses computational methods, so the photography is one part of the process that allows me to record light and time to use as media to make pictures.  I then work with that media in many different software packages to craft the final piece.  For this work I see it all as part of the picture-making process, and not really separated into photography and post-production.

Q. Is there anything that you hope viewers will experience, or better understand after viewing your work?

Prof. Emery:  I strive to create pieces that will reverberate for a viewer over time.  The work that inspires me has a haunting effect, resurfacing in my consciousness long after the experience between myself and the piece.  If a memory of my work flashes in a viewer’s head and creates for them an augmented experience in reality, then that would be good.  If that hybrid moment causes the person to question their real-life experience in some way then the work is successful.

New Views: FIT Art and Design Faculty Exhibit,” runs until March 22 and is open to the public. Hours are from 9 am–9 pm.  The exhibit is located in the John E. Reeves Great Hall of the Fred Pomerantz Art & Design Center. The entrance is on the northwest corner of 28 Street and Seventh Avenue.

To see more of Brian Emery’s work go to:

Images used with permission

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Julian Acevedo’s Smoke, Ashes, and Persuasion

The relationship between cigarette smoking and terminal disease is well established. But how much of that stark reality should be incorporated into an anti-smoking ad campaign? Third semester Communications Design student Julian Acevedo experimented with this relationship in three ways for an assignment for his Advertising Design class with Prof. Thomas McManus. One is an obsequious reference, another seductively irreverent, and one blatantly portrays early death.

“I wanted to show in one ad the cause, in another the effect, and finally the truth of how people–while knowing the facts and having experienced health problems–are stuck in a bad habit or addiction,” says Acevedo.

“The ads show an evolution of thinking from something that was a little obscure, to heavy-handed, to very sophisticated, smart and compelling,” says Prof. McManus. “It was a great progression how he took his thinking as he solved an advertising problem.”

Julian Acevedo's "Smoke Free"
Julian Acevedo’s “Smoke Free”

In the most brazen ad, three smoking, corpse-like figures sleepwalk down an incline. The entranceway toward certain death is represented by an iconic Marlboro cigarette box.

“It ties into the ‘Walking Dead’ television phenomenon,” says Prof. Elvin Kince, with whom Acevedo studied Typography II. “It’s sort of a double-entendre, playing on the image of three zombie-like characters and the word “kil” literally spelled out from the cigarette smoke.”

Julian Acevedo's "Smoke Free"
Julian Acevedo’s “Smoke Free”

In the scene of another ad, an open casket lies in a lonely, wintry cemetery. Black smoke arises from it, in what might be the shape of a women’s legs.

Acevedo employed photography, digital collage and photo montage with typography.

“The visual execution of his ideas is greatly enhanced through composition, clarity, visual hierarchy and contrast,” says Prof. Kince. “Julian uses scale, simplicity and repetition to visually and emotionally tie his series together. I like that he sought to create a graphically interesting series in addition to having strong concepts.”

Acevedo’s Design History class provided inspiration from the masters. “The Modern movement in America stayed in my mind while designing. Having attended the exhibition ‘The Cut-Outs’ of Henri Matisse at MoMA helped me expand my perspectives on the final development, as in the ad with the three figures and the Marlboro box.”

Julian Acevedo
Julian Acevedo’s “Smoke Free”

Prof. McManus said the third ad (above) was Acevedo’s most compelling. “It links the ashes from the cigarette to the ashes of cremation. It’s a simple clean layout and it’s striking.”

For Prof. Kince, there’s no “mistaking the intent of the ads. Coffins are a strong symbol of death. Zombies are not far behind, and the ‘ashes to ashes’ phrase is a comment often made after someone has passed…People would respond with a quick recognition and acknowledgement of the messages.”

Acevedo choose his campaign theme after a conversation with a friend who had begun smoking to alleviate stress. “I felt the need to react in my own way to this, and that is art,” says Acevedo.

The differences in perspective don’t just get his professors talking. “The more perspectives the better,” says Prof. Kince. “Various sources of feedback may help students to understand different ways their work and its presentation can be interpreted.”


Images used with permission

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AIDS fundraiser: moving miniatures for sale

Creating art in the midst of the AIDS crisis was a cathartic response to a disease of enormous tragedy. One especially affecting large group display of such work is “Postcards from the Edge,” organized by Visual AIDS in New York City. Like the early AIDS quilt, each contributor’s work is deemed to be of equal importance, suggesting that each life matters. Each individual work stands with others, shoulder to shoulder in solidarity. The only theme is perhaps “we’re in this to make a difference,” and that AIDS is not over.

“Postcards from the Edge” exhibition. Photo courtesy of Visual AIDS

At least six FIT faculty members and staff have contributed to the 17th “Post Cards from the Edge” (PCFE) exhibit. But you won’t find their name on their work–yet. All of the artwork remains anonymous until after it’s purchased.

Guesswork is encouraged. But it won’t be easy. There will be 1,661 postcard artworks on display!

“The work goes up and only buyers and collectors go the first day,” says Ron Amato, chair of photography and a contributor to the exhibit. “They might try to find the work of a particular artist. Or they just buy things they like and wind up being surprised by whose piece it is.”
"Postcards from the Edge" exhibition. Photo courtesy of Visual AIDS
“Postcards from the Edge” exhibition. Photo courtesy of Visual AIDS

“This year, we have more postcard artworks than ever before,” says Esther McGowan, Associate Director of Visual AIDS. Along with FIT contributors, the postcards of well-known artists like Pipilotti Rist and Robert Gober will be on display. (A complete list of artists is on the Visual AIDS website.)

“People get really excited if it turns out to be someone famous and they had no idea…or if they guessed who it might be and it turns out they were right,” says McGowan.  “What can also be great is when someone is just excited to buy a beautiful or challenging artwork.”
"Postcards from the Edge" exhibition. Photo courtesy of Visual AIDS
“Postcards from the Edge” exhibition. Photo courtesy of Visual AIDS
For Pacifico Silano, FIT photography tech who lost his uncle to AIDS, “Donating a postcard-sized piece of artwork is the least I can do to support such a great cause.” And he says, it’s for an organization “that puts art supplies in the hands of people living with HIV. It helps people who might not otherwise have the resources be able to make artwork.”
"Postcards from the Edge" exhibition. Photo courtesy of Visual AIDS
“Postcards from the Edge” exhibition. Photo courtesy of Visual AIDS
 Following a “sneak preview” on Friday January 30, a benefit sale will take place on Saturday January 31 and Sunday February 1, from 10am to 6pm.  Each artwork sells for $85 with a special deal if you purchase more than four pieces.
"Postcards from the Edge" exhibition. Photo courtesy of Visual AIDS
“Postcards from the Edge” exhibition. Photo courtesy of Visual AIDS

Says Amato, “The outpouring of support for this organization through this event truly represents the massive power of art and artists.”

For more information about this show and the work of Visual AIDS visit:

FIT contributors to “Postcards from the Edge” include:  Pacifico Silano (Photography, Tech C), Bil Donovan (Illustration), Ron Amato (Photography) Elisabeth Jacobsen (VPED, retired), Roberta Degnore (Social Sciences), the late Robert Getso (Social Sciences) and Kat Hartling (Social Sciences).

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The Dreams That I Gave Her: Text to Photograph

Often it’s writers who work from “prompts,” such as phrases or anecdotes, that spark a creative output. For photography professor Jessica Wynne, a poem from an anonymous writer yielded a poignant photograph, “How Mourning Goes.”

“How Mourning Goes,” by Jessica Wynne
“How Mourning Goes,” by Jessica Wynne

Wynne’s work will be on display at New York Art Residency and Studios (NARS) Foundation in Brooklyn from January 24 to February 20. The exhibit, “The Dreams That I Gave Her,” is part of a collaboration among New York City based writers, musicians and visual artists.

“The direction from the curators [Kelli Burton and Yulia Topchiy] was to interpret the writing any way I wished,” says Wynne. “The writing really resonated with me.  The poem is about going to a funeral. I saw it as being connected to a larger series of work I’m doing about family and early and late stages of life.”

"Ella in the grass," by Jessica Wynne
“Ella in the grass,” by Jessica Wynne

As part of the exhibition, weekly live readings and performances by the writers and bands will held at Entwine’s wine-bar and Beverly’s a bar exhibition space in New York City.

The opening reception for “The Dreams That I Gave Her,” is January 24, from 6-9 pm. NARS Foundation is located at 201 46th Street, 4th Fl., Brooklyn. Gallery hours are Monday-Friday, noon to 5 pm. For more information go to: NARS Foundation.

Photos used with permission

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Buddy in space joined by other Inktober characters

“It was Inktober. I was missing my dog.  I had a new sketchbook and I was designing characters. It occurred to me that Buddy is a real character I could use.” So started the month of October, or Inktober, for first semester Illustration student David Powers. Buddy would rule the roost of characters.

"Buddy" by David Powers
“Buddy” by David Powers

Inktober, a month when participating illustrators produce an ink drawing every day, was started by illustrator Jake Parker in 2009. Powers says his drawings during Inktober incorporated techniques learned in basic illustration and anatomy classes as well as some styling he discovered on his own.

“It made me think of things on the spot as opposed to life drawing. It brought me to a more realistic process of how illustration is done,” says Powers.

Ed Soyka, Chair of Illustration, took notice of the directions in which Buddy was leading his master.

“What’s interesting is he’s using drawing as a means to convey his ideas and experience visually, which is the essence of what an illustrator does as a visual communicator,” says Soyka. “What’s most exciting about David Powers is that already in the first semester he is illustrating in the way of a professional.”  

Here are highlights from Powers’ Inktober drawings.

David Powers' sketch book
Pages from David Powers’ sketch book

Inktober drawings from left to right:

1. Horned Viking:  “I was trying to capture the style and anatomy that I learned in my classes where we experiment with ink and different line weights.”

2. & 3. Animal warriors: “I thought of drawing animal heads and then personifying them. One’s a tiger and a polar or white bear. They’re concept sketches. I gave them a medieval warrior theme”

4. Space guy: “I kept adding to him I tried to make him an older veteran character. He just got done with his mission maybe. It was my first attempt stylizing smoke.”

5. Buddy in Space: “He got the whole thing started! I wondered what he could be doing. He’s always hungry. He’d do anything for food. I could just picture him in space trying to get this one treat.”

6. & 7. They’re character sketches–I tried to make them fit into the same universe. It was more experimentation seeing what worked and what didn’t.

Buddy in arms
Buddy in arms

While Powers posted his work daily on Instagram, his original sketch book has sadly gone missing. If anyone knows of its whereabouts please contact him at: In return he will make a personalized sketch for you.

It would make Buddy real happy!

Images used with permission

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“ESC: Digital Artworks” are interactive pleasures for art goers

While you’re watching C.J. Yeh’s art at the Museum at FIT, the art is watching you. In fact, it’s not only watching, it’s wryly responding to your actions.

Students Kaila Smithem and Linda Chow stand beside C. J. Yeh at exhibit opening of “ESC: Digital Artworks”

One picture stops weeping when you show it some interest, and immediately goes pink and bubbly. Another is like any good self-absorbed, social media curator – it gives each viewer hundreds of “likes” followed by effusive and kaleidoscopic praise.

From "Esc: Digital Artworks," by C. J. Yeh
From “Esc: Digital Artworks,” by C. J. Yeh

Yeh’s work is not only entertaining, it can also comment intelligently on some of the major issues of the day. This required some detailed research by Yeh.

For example, when a viewer of one piece moves his or her body, a bird flies in the same direction crashing into rising bubbles. Each bubble carries the logo of one of the 450 large banks that failed around the world when the Great Recession started. Another awards the viewer on-screen gold coins when the viewer places his or her head under the image of a cap and jumps upward.

"Happiness," by C. J. Yeh
“Happiness,” by C. J. Yeh

Yeh, who exhibits widely, especially in Taiwan and New York, has more than a few digital communication tricks to get people involved with art and with social issues. 

The exhibit includes a matrix of static photos, each of the exterior of a New York City museum or of the neighborhood of a well-known artist.

"The Great American Tour," by C. J. Yeh
“The Great American Tour,” by C. J. Yeh

The photos themselves would be interesting. But Yeh ups the ante by getting inside each photo’s digital files to introduce “glitches,” — a practice known as “databending” — in this case by replacing the “@” symbol with his own name. It’s a subversive way of inserting oneself into the art scene, but also serves to symbolize the coincidental and happenstance nature of everyday life. The affects are startling and joyous.

C. J. Yeh's work looking back at you.
What C. J. Yeh’s mirror “makes” of you.

Graciously, you the viewer are never ignored, or digitally rearranged. On the way out, however, you can yell into a digital mirror to see what it “makes” of you.

“ESC: Digital Artworks” is on exhibit at the Museum at FIT until December 13.

Images used with permission.


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Art & Design students explore NYC neighborhoods

A fascinating multimedia exhibit detailing the exploration of eight New York City ethnic enclaves, is on display in the Pomerantz Art and Design Center lobby until November 28.  The rich texture of neighborhoods captured in “Culture Captures: NYC,” was documented by an interdepartmental student team this Spring.

2014 Art & Design Interdisciplinary project: "Culture Capture: NYC" now in the Pomerantz Center lobby
2014 Art & Design Interdisciplinary exhibit: “Culture Capture: NYC” now in the Pomerantz Center lobby

The displays include photo essays, digital composites, video interviews, storyboards, animation and digital publication. There’s perhaps no more appropriate a place for such an exhibit than FIT.

“I love it. It speaks to what New York City is. It beautifully captures the diversity and energy of the City, and of FIT—At FIT we’re an example of that diversity,” says Joanne Arbuckle, Dean, School of Art & Design.

Digital composite & animation of  Chinatown, Hillary Hooper
Digital composite & animation of Chinatown, Hillary Hooper

Working under an interdisciplinary grant from the School of Art & Design, freshmen from Communication Design and Photography departments researched, observed and captured images and drawings of populations in Astoria, Brighton Beach, Chinatown, Crown Heights, Greenpoint, Jackson Heights, Spanish Harlem and Flushing.

Digital composite & animation of Crown Heights, Patrick Obando Polio
Digital composite & animation of Crown Heights, Patrick Obando Polio

“I thought Chinatown was for tourists,” says Communications freshman Bea Saludo. “Every time I’d go to Chinatown with my family it was to eat and leave. We never observed the surroundings.” Saludo, whose study was on Chinatown, was keen to architectural detail and family gatherings—observations that had escaped her on visits there with family.

Digital composite & animation of Chinatown, Liaor
Digital composite & animation of Chinatown, Lior Gensler

“It’s about highlighting cultural background specific to a neighborhood and celebrating those differences. It’s about offering an enhanced understanding of neighborhoods that you know are there but haven’t always seen with a penetrating, discerning eye,” says Communication Design Prof. Christie Shin who directed the project.

Digital composite & animation of Astoria, Nancy Martinez
Digital composite & animation of Astoria, Nancy Martinez

Communications Design student Nancy Martinez focused on the Greek culture experience in Astoria. “The idea that everything links back to their roots was something really powerful. We are here, but within ourselves. We don’t forget where we, our parents, or our grandparents came from,” she says.

While the students recognize New York City as home to populations from all points of the compass, the preservation of cultural enclaves was eye-opening.

Digital composite & animation of Flushing, Cris Anne Fernandez
Digital composite & animation of Flushing, Cris Anne Fernandez

“I could not tell the difference between Chinatown and China,” said Man-Ping Wu, who grew up in South Africa and lived in China. “I knew New York City was a melting post, but the assignment got me deeper into a specific neighborhood…You don’t hear about these neighborhoods specifically.”

Digital composite & animation of Spanish Harlem, Gena Gugert

 “It’s a detailed and anecdotal approach that leads to a story, a fuller description of a lifestyle, of ordinary people in motion” says Prof. Shin

Prof. Christie Yeh and students at "Culture Captures: NYC" exhiit
Prof. Christie Yeh and students at “Culture Captures: NYC” exhibit

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