Holiday Bizarre: VPED pop-up nets $15K for cancer funding

In cooperation with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, third-year Visual Presentation and Exhibition Design students raised over $15,000 with their Holiday Bizarre pop-up shop that closed this weekend at FIT.

“This project shows how unique FIT is in the way we collaborate with industry, launching real world projects,” says Craig Berger, chair of VPED.

The Holiday Bizarre received full-page coverage the New York Daily News.

VPED students conceived & designed a pop-up shop to help raise cancer funds

The theme of the Holiday Bizarre was surrealism. But nothing was surreal about the big named fashions involved.

Brimming with chic designs from big names such as Prada, Burberry and Diane von Furstenberg, the project was 100% student-designed, from initial sketches to last-minute touches like music, shopping bags and holiday decor,” said Rheana Murray in the Daily News.

“It was beautifully done,” said Berger “It took an adventurous, non-traditionally holiday theme and skillfully executed with stunning graphics and beautiful fixtures. Congratulations to third semester VPED class!”


Photo: Rachel Ellner 



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A visit to Angel Falls in poetry and landscapes

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.”


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The sign of great jewelry

When Cole Lopez  lifts up her sleeve, she reveals a hand-forged “cuff,” which shows the astrological positions on the day she was born. “It’s a snapshot of the cosmos at that exact moment,” says the jewelry design alumna. The effect is timeless, mysterious and evocative.

“It’s a lovely use of graphic, lore and craftsmanship,” says Jewelry Design Professor Wendy Yothers.

Cole Lopez’s astrological cuff with a labradorite crystal

Lopez’s cuffs are often made of brass, which, Lopez says, has an association with strength and protection. Her process includes heating, forging, smoothing, oxidizing and cooling, before being fitted for wear. Lopez incorporates largely recycled metals. “Earth preservation is absolutely paramount to me,” she says.

“What’s so wonderful, private and intimate is that it’s a person’s astrological information,” says Michael Coan, Chair of Jewelry Design. “That’s why it’s innately personal and permanent.”

Cole Lopez’s pyramid cuff

In the astrological cuff above, Cole embedded a corked vial of liquid into a resin pyramid. As the wearer moves, bubbles form inside the vial.

Each cuff is made “specifically for the empowerment of it’s owner,” says Lopez. It’s a reminder “of the seat you hold in the sacred rotation of the cosmos.” 

Lopez is apparently the first student to win two awards at the student jewelry show at the FIT Museum, taking second place in both costume and fine jewelry.

Cole Lopez’s astrological bangle

This astrological bangle was created by combining acrylic sheets. The magnification globe is placed over her “12th house,” which, astrologers say, governs collective consciousness and spirituality. 

“Many times a piece of paper can be lost,” says Coan. “This is permanent and may be shown to astrologers around the globe for immediate consultation. They don’t have to make a new one. All the trines and vectors are immediately displayed.”

Cole Lopez astrological cuff fitted to the cosmos

Finally, each cuff is “blessed” with flower essences and Lopez performs a ritual “with the aid of lunar energies.” It is packaged in organic herbs as a final gesture.

“It’s celebrating the uniqueness of astrology and your life — It’s like celebrating a birthright,” says Prof. Coan, “And P.S. you can ask Cole for an appropriate customized gem stone for the center of your personal natal chart cuff.”


To learn more of Ms. Lopez’s creations go to her websiste: or go to: to read Lopez’s herbal suggestions “to use the lunar energies of each month’s new moon phase.”


Photos by Jonathan Jary


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Blue plate special

Did you want your Blue Plate Special with a line of hamsters? A hockey player skating with fishes or a baseball batter swinging at birds? Kitties are popular this year.  So are squirrels, bears, giraffes and chipmunks. There’s also a new play on “Waiter, there’s a fly in my soup,” or on my plate. All was served up by the Fine Art Collective in the Pomerantz lobby on Thursday. Don’t worry. There are still plates, bowls, cups and platters left.

The sale was one in a series of fundraising events to help cover costs to Art Basel, the international art show in Miami.

The MGM kitty roars

“A lot of people are doing pets or portraits,” said club member Carly Fitzsimons. We got asked for a goat. A goat O.K.”

“Did you hear about the Blue Plate Special?”

All plates are recycled from Good Will or donated. The images are painted, overglazed and then fired to make them permanent and food safe. They are also dishwasher and microwave safe.

“You can email us and ask for a plate we have in inventory, a custom design, an image transfer or a painting of the image. We love to do this,” said Fitzsimons, a third year fine arts major.

Alison Schmadtke, Brett Sutherland, Carly Fitzsimons

“Someone is going to have us doing plates of his portrait to give out for Christmas. I thought that was a good idea,” said Fitzsimons.

Tote bags were also incredibly popular. Perfect for carrying home your dish, bowl or creamer with pin-up girl.

Or for stockings.

Art Collective is open to any student. “Our mission is to see art and make connections in the art world,” says club advisor Prof. Julia Jacquette.

“We will see art and they’ll do mini internships,” says Prof. Jacquette about Art Basel. “Our members will help some of the art galleries with booths at Art Basel.”

Fine Arts Chair Stephanie DeManuelle imagining winning the sushi plate.

Even a plate of sushi was being raffled. (Edible sushi not included.)

Wait, there is a fly on my plate!

You may still purchase a piece of beautiful, usable art work, tote or raffle tickets by contacting:


*The FIT Art Collective is a fine arts club that gives student artists from all majors opportunities to learn and experience art beyond the classroom, through student exhibitions, volunteering for arts organizations, lectures and visits to museums and  galleries.


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Fine arts photographer crosses over, fashionably

Jordan Tiberio faces a type of conundrum not unfamiliar to students who fully explore their craft: “I won a fashion shooting contest, but I’m a fine arts photographer,” says the recent winner of the Western Digital (WD) Fashion Walk. “I’m used to taking things from memories and my past and recreating them in an artistic manner. I’m more into fine arts than fashion. But the contest sounded like a cool concept,” she said.

Winning photo: Jordan Tiberio

The Fashion Walk competition took place along the High Line and was overseen and judged by WD’s “creative master,” photographer Bruce Dorn. The setup consisted of four groups, with two photographers, a fashion designer and model in each.

“It was this big FIT collaboration,” said Tiberio. “FIT makes you try everything and pushes your comfort zone.  It gave me more confidence.  I like staging stuff and making things up. You don’t know if you like something until you try it.”

Within a 40 minute time frame and a four block radius, participants worked on their creative concepts. “I used a lot of special affects filters on my lens. I cover my lens with scarves or crystals to create ethereal images. I picked up the techniques on my own,” said Tiberio. “We found an area wrapped in mesh material. I had [the model] crawl underneath the mesh and then stand up behind it.”

Photo: Jordan Tiberio

“We like to create challenges that require students to think outside their discipline,” says Associate Dean Sass Brown, who with photography professor Curtis Willocks, helped organize the competition.

“People have different approaches. I threw Jordan in there to mix things up,” said Willocks. “She used filters that people haven’t used for 10 to 15 years. She took an old process and did something different with it. She created [the image] in camera–She didn’t have to use any post production. There it was in the camera. Bang!”

Photo: Jordan Tiberio

Tiberio grew up in Rochester, NY, an area steeped both in photography history and in fine arts.  “We went to the George Eastman (founder of Kodak) House every year in elementary school. We have the Memorial Art Gallery. My mom’s mother was an art teacher and my grandmother was a really good artist.”

“I tried to not make my work look like the High Line or the city. I used a lot of special affect filters on my lens. I just picked the techniques on  my own. So that’s what I brought. It was the one that won the contest. ”

A day with Bruce Dorn, the “relentless pursuer of beauty,” and Curtis Willocks the “teacher’s teacher,” Jordan’s the winner.



photos provided by Jordan Tiberio


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Tigers hold court at the National Tennis Center

Rafael Nadal, Maria Sharapova, and Billie Jean King made their reputations there, but they weren’t studying fashion design, fashion merchandising or jewelry design at the same time.  FIT women, competing at the national Division 3 championship, have scored second in the nation. The tournament, held at the National Tennis Center on October 22, also awarded its first sportsmanship trophy to an FIT student.

“The fact is, you can combine intellectuality with athletics,” says proud coach and communications design instructor Lynn Cabot-Puro.

Winning Tigers: Hilary Baxter, Ashley Yakaboski, Ravina Parikh, Fernanda DeSouza, Robyn Arteaga, Kayla Bohnhorst, Keerthana Sivaramakrishnan

Members of the Division 3 tennis team became National All-Americans and one, “Kiki” Keerthana Sivaramakrishnan, received the National Coaches’ Sportsmanship Award, given for the first time.

“They’re a dream team. They’re good at sports, they have a passion for the game and they play to win,” said Puro, FIT’s consecutive three-time Coach of the Year.

Fernanda DeSouza

Says Puro, “There were many exciting moments for the players — to play at the same venue that Sharapova, Federer and Nadal played on — not to mention Billie Jean King.” Of the seven players on the team, two are studying jewelry design, another fashion design, and three are fashion merchandising and marketing majors.

What about Serena Williams and her fashion line? Bet that the FIT players would win that competition too.

“By the way,” says Puro “we’re going for number one next time.”


Photos: Courtesy of FIT Athletics & Recreation



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The campus gets chalked

Illustration students went loud, bold and beautiful on the FIT campus today. Students from the senior illustration workshop recreated their classwork in chalk images on the concrete canvas of FIT itself. “The art is beautiful. I am so proud of this extension of the classroom,” says Joanne Arbuckle, Dean of the School of Art and Design, who was out viewing the work.

Carlos Bolanos illustration. Right-Corlette Douglas drawing

 A large-toothed bird morphing into a fish shares space with a dreamy-eyed boy beset with beaked creatures of his own.

Left-Grace Batista work. Right-Jenny Kim working

“There is tremendous interest from the public. You can’t get through 7th Avenue. It’s so crowded with people stopping and speaking to the artists,” said Dean Arbuckle.

Brian O’Neill working.  Brittany Falussy’s piece on the right

Prof. Dan Shefelman pondered how to amass images and video of the project that began flooding the internet. “The project is blowing up the blogosphere and I have no idea how to aggregate it all,” said Shefelman standing admid photographers and videographers filming student work.

l. to r. – works of Victoria Lane, Lachelle Lewis, James Deangelis ’13 (Illustration Dept grad & creator of original Chalk FIT logo), Hani Shihada, professional chalk artist.

Dispelled were notions that illustration belongs only in comic books and books for children.

Hannah Chusid and her creation

Hannah Chusid adds extra sizzle to her creation.

Photos by: Randi Butler

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Amazon Fashion comes to Williamsburg

Keeping to its philosophy of following the talent, this time clear across the country, has landed on Kent St. in Williamsburg in a big way.  No sooner had Amazon Fashion opened its 40,000-foot studio, then there was a call for local talent. Studio Sessions Challenge held on October 19, involved students from four New York City design schools. Their task was to create “campaign-worthy” editorial images showcasing the online behemoth’s fall fashion picks. FIT students from fabric styling, communication and photography all lent their talent.

pre-Challenge calm

In one frantic 9 to 5 content day, school teams for menswear and womenswear selected clothes and accessories,  dressed,  styled,  and posed models for photography and design layouts.

A blur of talent 

“They had to come up with a concept and idea, and come up with a single vision,” says assistant dean  of Art & Design Sass Brown whose enthusiasm ran high for FIT participants and the for the challenge itself.

Teams were judged by a range of high-profile judges on criteria that included art direction, set design and consistency with Amazon fashion branding.

Men’s school teams presenting editorial concepts

“It felt like a pretty natural evolution for us as we build our fashion business, to anchor it to key outposts where we have access to top talent,” Cathy Beaudoin, president of Amazon Fashion told Women’s Wear Daily.

Men’s school teams presenting editorial concepts

“The value of participating in an opportunity like this goes beyond the monetary prize,” says photography adviser to the contest Ron Amato, who chairs FIT’s photography department. “It’s really about the experience of engagement.”

The site also “intends to create hundreds of jobs for local talent, from photographers, stylists and models to hair and makeup artists,” said Beaudoin.

The grill

The Williamsburg studio location is one of six for and the first in New York state. Although the FIT students didn’t take home a prize, there’s talk of an annual challenge and opportunities for local talent.

Photos courtesy of

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The Media Design Club in motion

So the organizers of World Summit on Innovation & Entrepreneurship decide they want their awards ceremony preview to be media experimentation. You’re Prof. C.J. Yeh, and you say “of course” because every design challenge to this guy is “of course.”

Prelude to the World Summit on Innovation & Entrepreneurship

The event, to be held at the Museum of the Moving Image, was ideal for motion graphics. Yeh hailed students from the Media Design Club to create an immersive environment. It meant setting up five large-scale projectors in a space where nothing can be put on walls or ceiling. They devised a tripod system consisting of “a laser tripod that can be raised nine feet high,” says Yeh. “We combined that with the boom stick for the microphone stand and hung the projector on top of that. Did I mention we had four hours?”

For the prelude, old horror flicks are shown juxtaposed with student videos, ones that pose challenges and “a call-to-action,” says Yeh. Let’s watch:

“Last Drop,” by Alexis Gallo was completed in broadcast design CD441, a course for graphic design and advertising design juniors.

“I liked that texture is being used in ‘Last Drop.’ These days given the popularity of digital tools design, projects easily become ‘too perfect’ using a lot of the digital color and shapes. In this piece Alexis hand-cut shapes, then scanned them in to get the tactile feel that is perfect for the topic,” says Yeh.

The State of Inequality,” by Christina Hogan

“What’s most innovative is the way Christina, a graphic design senior, used graphic elements as well as all the details in the motion,” says Yeh.

“Case Study: Project Dreamer,” by Annie Zeng and Cindy Leong was created in graphic design in digital media GD344, a six semester sequence for graphic design and advertising majors.

“This particular semester the final project is to create an online interactive project to support something that they hold dearly. The project authors decided to use social media platforms to remind us to  never stop chasing our dreams,” says Yeh.

And then it was on with the gala.

“It was exciting to see how the experience empowered the students. Often the conversation is between designer and designer. This competition gave them a chance to get feedback from business people and entrepreneurs. Even while setting up the show, people were curious and talking to us. They were watching our setup — seeing how in such a short time we could deliver.”

Photo courtesy of World Summit on Innovation & Entrepreneurship

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