Monthly Archives: September 2013

ARTIST WILLIAM WEGMAN VISITS FIT, UNLEASHES HIS IDEAS

The artist William Wegman came to FIT last night, bringing engaging slides of his work but, alas, none of the Weimaraner dogs he’s so famous for photographing. Wegman visited as part of a series organized by the college’s photography department, and presented the very image of a working artist, with rumpled gray hair and a blue checked shirt.

Wegman loves to create, and his work fits generally into the category of surrealism, though he said, surprisingly, that Norman Rockwell was an early influence. Wegman paints and makes sculpture and videos, but he’s most famous for his dog pictures:

Like so much of his career, as Wegman tells it, the discovery of photography was fortuitous, almost an accident.  In the mid-’60s he took his first photograph. It was of salami. “That’s still my best photo,” he said, with evident irony.

Painters Sol LeWitt and Ed Ruscha collected his early photographs, which Wegman initially used to document his performance art.  An early series of photos featuring the Weimaraner Man Ray, Wegman said, “is kind of like a Sol LeWitt painting, but with a dog.” By the late ’70s, he said, “my photography began to be dominated by Man Ray, who loved to work.” A few years after Man Ray died, Wegman got another dog, Fay Wray. “She almost demanded to work,” he said. “She looked right into the lens.” He later made videos of the dogs for Saturday Night Live and Sesame Street. Here’s one:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y_IFN4lh59Y

 

A surprising sense of playfulness, of low-key spontaneity and experimentation, characterized the talk. “I would never think these pictures through beforehand,” he said. “They weren’t planned.” At one point, a student asked what lens he used to photograph the dogs. “I don’t know,” Wegman replied. “I’m not a photographer.”

Wegman with FIT Photography faculty Jessica Wynne, who organizes the Photo Talks series.

THE AMAZING BIL DONOVAN ’78 DRAWS THE AMAZING RALPH RUCCI ’80. UTTER FABULOUSITY ENSUES

There are times in Hue’s life when we are simply overwhelmed by gorgeocity.

This is one of those times.

For Fashion Week, New York magazine asked illustrator Bil Donovan, Fashion Illustration ’78 to sketch some of the shows in traditional pen and ink. They posted the results here.

At the show by Ralph Rucci, Fashion Design ’80, Donovan had his eye on Rucci’s sister, Rosina. Her ecstatic flourish at the end of every Rucci show is designed to inspire the audience. Donovan’s piece captures the siblings at the most dramatic moment:

“Rucci Bow” by Bil Donovan.

Upon seeing the whole collection of drawings, we cried, “Genius!”

Donovan replied: “Don’t know about the genius part but it was so in the moment… And my dread was to have some accident with the ink on my lap, especially at Thom Browne.”

“Thom Browne Hair and Makeup” by Bil Donovan.

See the rest of Donovan’s works for Fashion Week here.

THE RURAL LIFE IN QUEENS, PART TWO

As part of her effort to live off the land as much as she can, Ruth Harrigan ’87 keeps four chickens in her backyard.

“My kids asked for a dog; I got them chickens,” she explains.

Ruth Harrigan petting a hen. “They’re mostly feathers,” she says.

She buys one-day-old chicks from a farm in Ohio; they only cost $2 each, but it’s an extra $35 to ship them via a special USPS carrier who deals only in livestock. Local farms also sell chicks, but they don’t guarantee the sex–and New Yorkers are only allowed female chickens. She’s willing to pay extra to avoid a Moses scenario.

As opposed to bees, which can be tricky to take care of, chickens are a breeze. They’re gentle and they live off food scraps–watermelon rinds are a delicacy, apparently.

Chickens are also great for gardens. They scratch at the ground all day, aerating the soil, and they eat the grubs that prevent things from growing.

Not to mention that each chicken produces an egg every day or every other day. The eggs are tastier than your typical supermarket variety.

“The white, normally slippery, is textured,” she says. “The yolk is bright orange. Even the local eggs I buy aren’t this orange.”

These eggs sure get eaten: Harrigan has four kids. Plus a cat, who (surprise!) gets along with the chickens just fine.

“All my friends want chickens now because of me,” Harrigan boasts. “Not that I’m pushing it or anything.”

THE RURAL LIFE IN QUEENS, PART ONE

At first blush (and even after numerous blushes), New York City does not seem like a good place to keep bees and chickens. Hue believed that too, until we met Ruth Harrigan, Fashion Buying and Merchandising ’87.

Harrigan keeps 12 beehives near her home in Douglaston, Queens, and five more in Staten Island. She also has four chickens as pets (more on that in the next post). This summer, she showed Hue said beehives and chickens.

Ruth Harrigan fakes a forest fire.

She approaches the beehives from the back. Apparently, they only leave the hive in one direction, so there are no bees where she’s standing. She fills the bee smoker with pine needles and lights them on fire. A tan stream of smoke pours upward and diffuses, and the bees, sensing a forest fire, crawl back into the hive.

Then she pulls out a frame to show off the honey.

The golden honey is concentrated in the lower left quadrant.

The structure of the man-made hives makes it easier to harvest the honey, but it’s not necessary. Recently, she left some empty cardboard boxes next to the hives, and a feral hive took up residence inside. “For me, catching a swarm is like saving $100,” she says, referring to the cost of buying a new colony.

This beehive was formed in an empty cardboard box.

She’s found a number of uses for the honey. First off, the neighbors eat it to help mitigate their allergies. Prevailing wisdom suggests the pollen content of local raw honey acts as a kind of inoculation for people with a pollen allergy. Supermarket honey can’t do that. “Pasteurized honey has no pollen–it’s just sweet syrup,” she says.

Second, she sells it as HoneyGramz, cute 2-ounce bear-shaped bottles with a gift message. And third, she puts it in her line of skincare, Mee Beauty. Sadly, the intoxicating scent of real honey fades quickly, so the products don’t smell like honey. Buyer beware: any beauty product that smells like honey relies on an artificial scent.

Based on customer demand, though, Harrigan is adding a honey scent to her body wash. “It’s the most natural fake fragrance you can get.”