“The piece is inspired by the year I saw spring four times as I traveled,” says Jewelry Design Professor Wendy Yothers. “First in Lubbock Texas, where I was teaching; second in Michigan on the family farm; third in Taos, New Mexico in the Sangre de Christo mountains; and fourth, in Helsinki, where there was a light snow in July.”
The glassware design, appropriately titled “Spring,” was made for the upcoming Art and Design faculty and staff exhibit “A Wow Moment” opening in November.
Yothers used a “spruce pine” recipe for clear glass that’s processed in the furnace at the studio at the Corning Museum of Glass where she has had a residency. Spruce pine is a type of clear glass for multi-purpose use that’s quite forgiving. She created the engraving with sintered diamond wheels on an engraving lathe. She made the silver lip and base at the Art and Design Jewelry department studio.
The School of Art and Design faculty and staff exhibit, “A Wow Moment,” will be on view in the Lynn and Carl Goldstein Gallery, 9th floor Feldman Center from November 6 through mid-October 2020.
More than 20 repurposed designer boxes from Gucci to Prada and Tiffany are transformed into a mix of fashion, style, and art by Illustration professor Leslie Cober-Gentry. The canvases were created in several mixed mediums. Uplifting messages within the works heighten the vibes of the original packaging. Her series is now on exhibit at the RPAC Gallery in Ridgefield, Connecticut.
“I instruct my students to pick subjects they are passionate about,” says Cober-Gentry. “The audience most often will respond in kind.”
“Leslie Cober-Gentry’s work has a wonderful energy balanced with a grace and lightness that reflects her spirit and personality,” says fashion illustrator and Illustration professor Bil Donovan who served with Cober-Gentry on the executive board of the Society of Illustrators. “I admire and respect her tireless energy in pursuing the best for her students, working to promote the community at large and making a difference in the world through her art, projects and outreach. That energy is also evident in her work, where she continually pursues the best for herself, pushing the boundaries and specifically with this exhibit, ‘ThinkingOutsideTheBox.'”
Professor Cober-Gentry spoke about several of her box-to-canvas works and the ink drawings, spray painting, glitter highlights and mix of techniques she bestows on them.
“The Gucci box, “Harmony” [above] was painted in white pen. I had been creating orange Monarch butterflies and wanted this to have a calmer demeanor, so I painted the butterfly blue. Using collage for a few of the hearts and limited color, the Gucci brown and Gucci logos stand out. I worked with the color of the font. Gucci’s admired gold font is iconic. I worked metallic gold paint into the box painting. It was fitting to have two of my favorite quotes next to the box, one by Bob Marley and the other from the Beatles,” she says.
“The Tiffany blue box is beautiful on its own. The drawing I created is simple but elegant. Again I painted flowers and a yellow Swallowtail butterfly. I adore the creamy yellow against the Tiffany blue background,” she says. The found the black ink worked with the black Tiffany font and used metallic paint as a background with a small amount of hot pink flowers and green leaves.
For a Hermes bag, Cober-Gentry used a handwritten font for a by quote Kanye West, “Fashion is merely an opinion + I’ve got a lot of opinions.” Fashion designer Stephen Sprouse’s designs and typography have also been an inspiration. “In between the larger quote, I wrote in smaller lettering, “good vibes, fun time, culture, music, art, harmony.” The iconic Hermes orange stands out against the black, metallic gold, and Robins’ egg blue.
A large canvas was used for a culmination of designer names. “I paged through fashion magazines, ripping out pages with designer fashion, names and typography. I wanted the logos to be ripped and raw, but be iconic, recognizable typography in the painting. I painted a Chanel shopping bag in the center, and attached the Chanel shopping bag and spray painted the frame, creating ink drawings of designer clothes, shoes, boots, and bags from fashion pages as well as pieces from my own collection.” The mixed mediums include, gold and silver metallic paint, gold glitter, gouache, ink, and collage.
On a metallic-silver Prada box [above] Cober-Gentry created a head with the message “Positive Optimism” with flowers, hearts and a bird, emerging from the top. “The red ‘Prada’ typeface is iconic. The silver, glossy textured box was a challenge; I experimented with a new mix of mediums like white and black acrylic pens, gouache, pure white acrylic, spray paint, and gold glitter.” To tie the Prada logo into the painting, she created large, glossy, bright, red lips.
“The fashion house Fendi uses a beautiful yellow box. I wanted the yellow to show through the art so I added several small ink drawings of shoes and boots from current fashion publications and my clothes collection. The lips are in black ink to match the black of the Fendi logo. The eyes evoke current fashion, and flowers represent the beauty of fashion, art and design,” says Cober-Gentry.
This original blue Prada box has a dark blue Prada logo. “It called for metallic gold. One of the first boxes I completed, the art is simple and elegant with black ink line flowers and a monarch butterfly,”says Cober-Gentry.
“The beauty of this Chanel black and white box spoke for itself. I didn’t want to cover it with color. A simple black ink line enhanced the box, with just a small amount of pink. I changed an orange monarch butterfly into a pink butterfly,” says Cober-Gentry. The pink of the small Chanel box called for simple line. Drawing ink flowers with a micron pen, added a small monarch butterfly and tiny ladybug, both painted in gouache.
A small pink Chanel box is covered in black ink line flowers, a tiny Monarch butterfly and a mini ladybug.
This Chanel bag painted, became a sculpture, says Cober-Gentry. Named “You Are #1” it is painted in gold metallic spray paint, acrylic and black ink.
“The Prada box [above] had metallic silver type. I painted a metallic silver into the background,” says Cober-Gentry. The box she covered with inspirational words, “peace” “love” “harmony” and “kindness,” and flowers and patterns with black and white ink. The larger pink heart is a metallic glitter pink collage with gold glitter highlights.
The first in Cober-Gentry’s series, “Butterflies Are Free To Fly,” was “true to the goal of creating positive-minded art filled with happy thoughts like beauty, fashion, music, love, and optimism. I thought this series should be inspirational for my life, and for students, family, friends and viewers,” she says.
“Given the coolness of cigar boxes and cigars as a fashion accessory, says Cober-Gentry, “I painted a Cohiba box with silver metallic spray paint, black acrylic ink line art, and red acrylic.”
Cober-Gentry created “Art Pillows” from several of her personal favorites. “I designed them to look like art in one’s home. The edges are evident on the pillows to look like they were taken from my sketchbook. It’s art made into three dimensional interior home design pieces.”
“The “OutsideTheBox” exhibit is currently at the RPAC Gallery in Ridgefield, CT until the first week of November. For more information go to: RPAC Gallery.
Cinematic lighting goes beyond creating sets with dramatic lighting and yelling “action.” The techniques require more precision than still photography; the lighting and exposures need to be exacting and consistent. There’s more use of light meters, half stops and third stops. There’s a lot from it that photography students can add to their toolbox.
Prof. Ron Amato teaches cinematic lighting for Photography and Related Media. BFA seniors take it as part of his Advanced Photography and Video Workshop. He helps his students add to their skills to provide additional options for their work.
“The goal of the course,” says Amato, “is to give seniors a laboratory to experiment with techniques and technology they might want to use for their Senior Design Projects,” he says.
Amato directs his students’ attention to the work of photographers like Gregory Crewdson, Alex Prager and Tim Walker who are known for their staged, tableau images.
“We start the exercise by looking at photographs we identify as having a cinematic feel. While I scroll through the photographs, students build a list of attributes to describe what makes the photographs ‘cinematic’” says Amato.
Some of the attributes identified during the exercise, he says, are mixed light sources, pockets of highlight and shadow, color variance and saturation, and, most importantly, narrative.
“I fill the room with a range of light sources with different light qualities and color balances. I give them a scenario like a party scene or card game and we begin to build the lighting. The goal is for it to be believable but also a little fantastical” says Amato.
Amanda Vallina says that after moving to New York to pursue her BFA in Photography in 2015, her photographs started becoming a tribute to the city that raised her, Miami, Florida. Miami is heavily influenced by Cuban culture, she says, from cigar smoking to dominoes played at every opportunity. But once she visited Cuba, she resolved to explore how Miami’s contemporary and Old World glamour is a complex mix drawn from both.
Cubans make up 52 percent of the Miami population, so Miami truly is a little Cuba. Most people who call Miami home still have relatives and a piece of their heart in Cuba. They have taken the city and made it like the Cuba they remember and loved. Some neighborhoods like Little Havana are even named after the places in Cuba they came from.
Vallina says it was necessary for her to experience Cuba “and take in the place my grandparents once called home. Part of the experiencing, I felt should involve photographing the people and the beautiful architecture there.”
She made the trip in the summer of 2018. “I became heavily influenced by the architecture and pop of colors, which is the constant variable within my photographs,” she said. “I was able to capture the history and add my own twist and style with the choice of model and clothing in each shoot.”
Vallina describes her photographs as contemporary, but she says they “also reflect a time when women and fashion were synonymous with luxury, polish, and fantasy. Fashion to me is important.”
Gerard Dellova, Fashion Design professor and trend forecaster at Trend House sees Vallina’s work in a broader fashion context. “We’re seeing a lot of references to the 70s, disco era and the glam of the early 80s in fashion right now. The trend direction is very big. That’s where I see this. People are wanting that very playful, carefree, up, vibe, which is in contrast to political and social unrest.”
While Vallina’s work might be Miami or Havana, “it’s also reminiscent of Studio 54,” says Dellova.
Dellova also appreciates the aspect of irony in some of Vallina’s work. “This photo [above] of this glam refugee in a plastic glitter tube [referenced as a “raft”] is completely witty. It’s irreverent and satirical.”
Vallina agrees. “I was inspired by everything 80s from the portable radio down to the eyeshadow. The blimp in the corner is a subtle tribute to ‘Scarface,’ which is the most iconic movie based in Miami,” she says.
Before the trip, says Vallina, “I drew inspiration from women hanging on the arm of the man. I wanted to display the power of women and the luxury of fashion by switching power dynamics in my pieces.” For example, the photo of the model in the suit next to the luxury sports car (above) “would have been shown as a male posing in a suit next the car.”
Says Brad Paris, Chair of Photography, “We really recognized the way Amanda’s images work together from the full-sized prints. Some are classic fashion photography with a Cuban twist, some have a subtle irony, and several are laugh-out-loud funny. I’m particularly fond of the photograph of Amanda’s great grandmother drinking a mojito and watching the pool boy,” he says.
Vallina says her trip to Cuba “led me to reflect on the beauty that is in both Miami and Cuba.
“I went on my trip with the intention of turning my photo documentation of the island into my senior thesis. It turned into a project that showed the heritage running through Miami’s streets. It showed that Miami is like no place else.”
Vallina titled her thesis “Miami Vices,” seeing it as a long-term continuing project on a subject that she can document in different ways.
Each year FIT’s United College Employees union sponsors a Constitution Day postcard competition. The goal of the students’ designs is to illuminate a section of the U.S. Constitution in a contemporary context.
In 2014 Graphic Design student Sooji Lee’s first-place image referenced mass shootings in schools. At that point there had been 387 of them since 1992 with more than two out of every three shooters 10-19 years old. The Constitution grants many rights but also brings responsibilities was the stated message.
The image of red, white and blue backpacks arranged as an American flag is haunting in light of recent events. It was reported, for instance, that in El Paso, parents and their children were shopping for backpacks and other back-to-school supplies. Demand for bullet-proof backpacks has vastly increased.
Says Troy Richards, Dean of the School of Art and Design, “This winning design of apparently innocuous objects, school backpacks, is given an emotional charge when seen in light of school shootings that have left such a devastating impact on young people and our country. In today’s fractious political climate, our differences are being exploited, the result being mounting tension and outbreaks of violence. Hopefully, these tragedies will make us pause to consider the consequences of hateful rhetoric and ask, instead, how we might come together again as a country.”
Winners of the Constitution Day competition are selected in the spring for the week of Constitution Day (September 17). To submit a design for 2020, students can email their work to [email protected] and cc: [email protected] (history professor Daniel Levinson Wilk, who helps oversee the competition).
In a post-post-modern era of computer-aided design and retro-ornate popularity, what is old can be startlingly and gorgeously new. Samuel Tannenbaum, a 2019 Textile Surface Design grad, draws on his small town roots and his aptitude for textile design and crafting, to create original fabric designs and fabric-based artwork. His work has a distinctive, elegantly spare, Shaker sensibility.
He discussed with us how it all came together and where he plans to go next.
Q: You reference your mother’s quilting style and family historic home. Was there an appreciation for folk art early on?
A: Oh, yes. My mother’s needlework and quilts are on display throughout our house, as well as her collection of angels. She owned a quilting fabric store and taught me how to sew at a young age. We made a quilt together while I was in elementary school.
cont. I was home-schooled. My sister and I would pick out a craft book from our library every week and make as many items as we could before having to return them for the next. My parents encouraged my projects and inspired me to go into textiles professionally. I have that first quilt I made with my mom displayed on a quilt rack in my bedroom.
Q: The Shakers were an Early American sect known for their devotional lifestyle, craftsmanship and design skills. How does being influenced by Shaker design blend with your intuition and creativity?
A: The Shakers were making things to be simple, functional, and long-lasting but never gave up the aspect of coziness that made each piece feel homey. I am always looking to create work that references history but doing my own take, incorporating my style. Like the Shakers, my upbringing gave me an appreciation for making things by hand. No matter the outcome, it was special because someone made it with their own hands.
“The relationship between fibers and abstraction, if often overlooked or ignored, has been present from the beginning of Modernism. Sonia Delauney and Anni Albers come to mind as talented artists who took advantage of fabric’s inherent geometry and chroma. I am reminded of both artists in looking at Samuel Tannenbaum’s work. Here is an artist who is curious and interested in exploring different traditions and histories—who successfully and literally weaves these disparate influences together in a compelling and unique way.”
– Troy Richards, Dean, School of Art and Design
Q: You grew up in Oneonta, a small college town. What was its artistic influence on you?
A: It is far from any larger city. I turned to activities that I could practice at home. I’ve always sought to create a space to live that feels entirely comfortable. I often turn to making things to fill my space with — quilts, pillows, scarves, wall art. My mom filled our house with an abundance of quilts and makes needlepoint and slipcovers. She showed me that textiles can be used to change the way you feel in a space. The right pattern can brighten your spirits, especially when your couch has stars all over it!
Q: Can you describe the skills you’re employing?
A: They include the worlds of fine arts and textiles. I incorporate aspects of fine art, such as collage and pencil drawing, into my print work. My main love is weaving. I enjoy taking a simple construction and making it look complex, or vice versa. I also use embroidery, knitting and crochet in exploratory ways that are not so traditional. My intention is to dive deeper into fiber art and to combine what I have learned in all of these disciplines to create experimental works of art, whether they be functional or decorative.
Q: How has studying at FIT helped you develop your vision?
A: I gained an understanding of how the industry works and to prepare assignments to a certain standard. I would not have grown as much as I have as a designer and artist had I not pursued textiles academically. I gradually developed my personal style, which took a lot of trial-and-error throughout my coursework.
“FIT also gave me the opportunity to study abroad at the Chelsea College of Arts in London for a semester, which aided me greatly in discovering my artistic voice. This paired nicely with the traditional industry preparation. It allowed me to put my own twist on textiles and to provide something different for the industry.”
Q: You seem well versed in the origins of Early American design.
A: Yes, I minored in Art History and took as many classes as I could on a variety of subjects. I tried to base my textile work on a topic that I was learning about in whichever art history class I was taking. My interest in Folk Art and the early American style stemmed from my History of American Art class, and developed in other courses. This style I feel most connected to, even though I am influenced by a range of references, including the Ulm School of Design, Bauhaus, the Zero Movement, Agnes Martin, and Hieronymus Bosch.
Q: Tell us a little bit about your plans, and what you’re working on now.
A: Currently, I am working as a studio-retail assistant for the home textile brand MINNA in the Hudson Valley. I am also an in-house weaver for the fashion designer Gary Graham in Franklin, NY. I weave in the store as a form of performance art, and then my fabrics are used to create home decorative objects.
I am considering a Masters program exploring sustainable practices relating to textiles before I embark on my own business endeavor. I hope to eventually have a business selling limited-run home textiles and one-of-a-kind textile art pieces.
Samuel Tannenbaum’s “Hands to Work” collection incorporates representations of significant objects from the artist’s childhood historic home with an idealized simple lifestyle. The collection references the Shakers’ simple, functional design. Daily tasks for the Shakers were preformed as a devotion to God. They are remembered for the phrase “Hands to work, hearts to God.” The references to childhood ways of making, colored pencil drawings and simple embroidery techniques reflect inspiration drawn from the devotional drawings, neighborhood maps, furniture and pantry boxes of the Shakers.
“Every year we wonder if we can top the last year, and somehow we do,” says Jewelry Design Professor Michael Coan, referring to both the graduating student work currently on exhibit and designs singled out for Accessories Design Council awards. Of note this year, are the boldly sculptural designs that illustrate how digital tools and hand-making are unleashing new levels of creativity. In the wall cases, where finished pieces are displayed next to renderings, the viewer can see the trajectory of the design work.
Here are a few of the collections you can expect to see in the Goodman Resource Center, on exhibit until May 29.
Tristen Douglass received the first place win for fashion jewelry. “There’s the basic regalia for any goddess,” says Coan, “with a special appearance of a pharonic scarab.”
Douglass’ work consist of objects trouves (found objects). “She does all the mysteries of the Aztec mask to Delphic Oracle and the Triple Goddess,” says Prof. Coan.
Allison Mack received a second place win for her “Modern Antique” pin and earrings. “It’s an antique look that she made from resin, acrylic and cubic zirconia,” says Prof. Coan. Her red “Pavlocks” (bracelet with magnet closure for easy access) is also a winner. “It’s delicate, intimate and powerful.”
Julyanna McNamara’s five-piece collection includes a “Courage”‘ brass knuckle. “They’ll see you coming with that and think twice. It’s loud admiration,” says Prof. Coan.
Perisha Bhaga received a first place win in Fine Jewelry. “The judges liked the crispness of her line and its sculptural scale,” says Prof. Coan. “They all have a Brâncuși-esque feel, wood bangle, and off-center ring and two bracelets (one with stone and one without). It really moves. It’s elegantly exciting.”
Says Prof. Coan, “Come see the latest, the up-and-coming, next generation, the future of jewelry designers.”
The School of Art and Design’s Graduating Student Exhibition showcases work of 800 graduates from 16 areas of study. Their work can be viewed throughout the main floors of the Marvin Feldman Center, Shirley Goodman Resource Center, The Museum at FIT, Art and Design Gallery in the Fred P. Pomerantz Art and Design Center, and John E. Reeves Great Hall. For more information go to: 2019 Graduating Student Exhibition.
People nationwide have enjoyed hilarious poster ads for VICELAND’s show, VICE LIVE, the weeknight, two-hour variety special that debuted in late February. The photographs are meant to keep you on the edge of your seat—as if you didn’t know what was going to happen next. They have been seen on billboards, subway and bus ads and in every kind of advertising format across the country. FIT alumna Amy Lombard, (Photography ’12), did the shooting. Here’s what she told us about how it all came down:
When I was approached about creating the campaign for VICE LIVE, a new late night show on their TV network VICELAND, I was really flattered. The idea was to channel older VICE magazine covers. These photographs were intense, they kept you on the edge of your seat, and they had this quality where (for better or worse) you could not look away.
The show was VICE’s first foray into live television. [VICE LIVE ended in early April.] Photographically they wanted to capture this idea that anything could happen because it’s live.
VICE was one of my first clients–so the company has always been near and dear to my heart. To watch the evolution of the company and how it has grown has been really incredible. There’s a certain level of spontaneity in my work that I think made me the right person for this job. That, and stylistically they wanted the heavy, harsh flash aesthetic.
In the campaign you’ll see a man’s bare foot on a dart board, a fire extinguisher on fire, a fish in a blender (don’t panic!). There’s a level of heightened absurdity that is probably a more extreme version of the essence of my work at large.
I think my favorite image is the foot on the dart board. This shot wasn’t even planned. I had really been gunning for a foot moment in this campaign, and the idea was dismissed until at the last minute the creatives wanted a dart board. The art director unexpectedly slapped his foot up onto the dartboard–and, well, now that foot is on billboards all over.
As with all the photographs for this campaign, they clearly show things that are not supposed to happen, which feeds into the larger concept.
[Note: The goldfish in the ad below currently resides in the loving home of a member of the production team.]
“We always tell students to push the thing that makes them unique. Amy seems like a very normal person but constantly makes very weird photographs. Most students make crazy work in school, but their photography gets much more palatable when they start working in the photo industry, but Amy doubled down on the weirdness. Her first big job was shooting the Bunny Ranch in Nevada and she continues to get hired to shoot the stranger parts of the human experience.” – FIT Photography Chair, Brad Paris
The fire extinguisher bursting into flames is probably the most realistically terrifying (because in the event of that actually happening, you’re—well, screwed!) I love this picture because you really feel that sense of “oh, shit” when you look at it.
While the images feel like they’re snapshots, it was extremely production-heavy and took five days.
The fire extinguisher shot was probably the most labor intensive. It required permits, a fire handler, a specific kind of extinguisher, a specific wall built…It’s really wild! I now know so much about lighting this on fire. It’s such a wonderful, useless bit of knowledge!
Amy Lombard is a documentary photographer and writer whose focus is on American culture. In addition to VICE her clients have included the New York Times, New York Magazine, Vanity Fair, the New Yorker, WWD, T Magazine, M Le Monde, Time magazine, WIRED, Bloomberg,Businessweek, Refinery29, Samsung, Facebook, Barneys and Swatch. To see more of her work, go to: AmyLombard.com
“We spend close to 90 percent of our lives indoors. It means our health and well-being are directly impacted by interior design and indoor air quality,” says Interior Design Professor Ethan Lu. That makes this year’s theme, “Designing for Wellness,” for the 2019 NY11+ Interior Design Student Exhibition especially pertinent. The non-profit showcases student work from top New York State educational institutions.
FIT alum Andrew Gulino’s fall 2018 thesis project, “Brushwick,” was chosen for the exhibit. His work was displayed at the Teknion showroom in Manhattan.
“Andrew Gulino’s project is an after-school art center in Brooklyn for underprivileged teens that would provide art courses not offered at their public schools,” says Professor Lu.
Gulino’s thesis project covered topics, such as health and mental wellness, and design strategies, such as bringing natural ventilation and indirect daylight into the art studio spaces. His name of the art center, “Brushwick,” is a playful word pun on the Bushwick neighborhood in Brooklyn.
“The thought behind the design of ‘Brushwick’ was a space that gives provides for the community and most importantly supports the art education. More and more public schools are dismantling their art programs due to budget cuts. ‘Brushwick’ allows underprivileged students to take engaging art courses and collaborate with artistic minds. In my high school, only one art class offered, so I wanted to create a space that benefited those who may not have the same opportunity like I had.” – Andrew Gulino
“FIT’s Interior Design department has put a tremendous effort into addressing sustainability, health, and wellness across our curriculum. Hopefully, this message will resonate further as our students become interior design practitioners,” says Professor Lu.
Professor Lu said he was impressed with the number of FIT faculty, students, and alumni who showed up to support NY11+, a coalition of New York State educational institutions that offer interior design degree programs.
“Building a support system of interior design education, professional examination, and state licensure is really important for the longevity of our profession,” says Professor Lu. “We need more events like this from coalitions, such as IDLNY and NY11+, and associations, such as ASID and IIDA, in order to pave a strong career path for future interior design students and emerging professionals.”
A panel discussion followed the exhibition opening reception. It was moderated by Benjamin Huntington, an ASID member and New York State Certified Interior Designer. Panelists included Rebecca Steiger, Suzette Subance, and Angela Spangler. They are working professionals from Gensler, TPG Architecture, and International WELL Building Institute.