Jasmine Garoosi: compassion, art and social distancing

Since her college experience was dramatically altered by COVID-19, two things have been brought into greater focus for Photography major Jasmine Garoosi: her mother and her photography. To help her mother by day, means having to hone her craft by night.

Night time series by Jasmine Garoosi

“My mom is working full time as a guidance counselor but she has so many added responsiblities now and so many meetings that she is working non-stop. We are really close so it is hard to see her stressed out” says Garoosi who just completed her AAS and will be working toward her BFA this fall.

“Parents always try to lessen stress for their children. It was important for me to do the same for her. I have been cooking her meals and cleaning. To stay out of her way I started shooting at night after she goes to sleep.

Garoosi’s night photography both for self-exploration and class work, often focues on self-portraits.

Night time series by Jasmine Galoosi

“I would define Jasmine as an artist who uses photography to create. She’s an old soul in that she responds to film. She’s been processing it, exploring it, making mistakes and embracing them, doing research. She’s 19-years-old and curious and always trying to do something different. She’s using books, videos and personal experiences.” – Photography Professor Curtis Willocks 

Night time series by Jasmine Garoosi

“My goal is to shoot the human body and not have it be seen as sexual,” says Garoosi. “I grew up with Middle Eastern culture and saw how men perceive women as sexual no matter what they’re wearing. I wanted to document the body as a form, not in the context of sexuality.”

Garossi began learning to shoot film at Herricks High School in New Hyde Park, NY. It’s now very much her passion. But with the campus closed, she hasn’t able to process or print her work.

Night time series by Jasmine GaroosiShe’s resorted partially to digital. “To produce work I like I am experimenting with overexposing, high ISOs and shooting out of focus,” she says.  Black and white also suited her work . “The images have a more dream like quality. There’s a tendency to associate color with reality.”

Says Prof. Willocks “Photography is not something you do. It’s something you are. That’s how I see Jasmine.”

Night time series by Jasmine Jaroosi

Garoosi makes dinner for her mother most evenings.  Being of Iranian, Chinese and Colombian background her repertoire of dishes is eclectic:

“I experiment with different types of food, so one day I might make Chinese rice porridge and the next penne pomodoro.”

Night time series by Jasmine Garoosi

When her mom retires to bed she plays meditation music before falling asleep. Garoosi then departs for the backyard and works until 1 am on her images.

The lighting from the house and street are not as ideal as the controlled studio lighting, but Garoosi has found a way to shape the light to her esthetic with her physical form.

By Jasmine Garoosi

“This is the first time, people of my generation are on their own in a changed world. It’s important that we explore and experiment,” she says.

See more of Jasmine Garoosi work at JasmineGaroosi.com and follow her on Instagram:  @JasmineGaroosi

All images used with permission.

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Prescient Design for What a Pandemic Evokes

“Washing hands and disinfecting groceries are vital right now,” says Visual Presentation and Exhibition Design student Alvina Alex, ’20. “Wiping doorknobs and surfaces has become an important task. But what happens when all the disinfecting products are missing from the shelves? Dr. Bronner’s to the rescue.”

Alex is reflecting back on the Dr. Bronner’s Citrus Liquid Soap 3D window display that she created for her Product Presentation class.

Alvina Alex’s Dr. Bronner’s 3D display

Soap has renewed importance right now. There’s no reason not to pay some homage to it, especially when good design is at work!

Alex’s homespun graphics on the product label served as an eye-catching proscenium and naturally dried slices of citrus emphasized the organic ingredients.

“I shaped the bathtub by heating a small sheet of Sintra, and purchased two mini tile squares for the floor. The foaming bubbles are miniature opalescent ornaments and a touch of hot glue!” she says.

Alvina Alex’s Dr. Bronner’s 3D display

“Three-dimensional skills are the heart of what we do as designers,” says VPED professor Anne Kong.

“Physical prototyping unveils every phase of the design process for our students. Connecting branding to materiality, while fabricating and sourcing provides students with a 360 degree design experience. They see their ideas transform from sketches into 3D displays. Great work, Alvina!”

The project was on exhibt last year, as part of a series, in the display cases located on the third-floor hallway between the Pomerantz and Feldmen buidings.

Because of the pandemic, Alex has since had to make some abrupt changes in order to work on projects from home.

“I had to create my own work space. That’s hard when your family has a tendency to interrupt when you’re in class, and expects you to do chores when homework needs to be done!” Alex was able to maneuver through these obstacles and now says “I appreciate how much more time I have for perfecting my work and assignments.”

For her senior capstone project, she is currently working on a virtual exhibit “Life in their shoes: The Migrant Experience.” She aims to bring awareness of the living conditions in immigration detention centers in Texas.  “We all want the same thing, a safe life for our families,” she says.

Segment of Alvina Alex’s VPED capstone project

Shown on display are the items migrants carry on their journey, such as medicine, clothing and a second pair of shoes. There are descriptions of the locations they came from and what they left behind. In a display case are a pair of upside-down shoes with worn soles that indicate the traveler’s exhausting journey. Above each image is a projection of each migrant’s course that include the varied terrain of hills, rivers and deserts.

Upon graduation, Alex hopes to work for a firm designing museums and exhibitions. “Designing for a cause is a passion for me” she says.

Images used with permission.

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Car Seats and Eveningwear: The World of Detroit’s Ashley Harris

After combining an FIT AAS degree in fashion design with a BS from Western Michigan University in fashion apparel design, a minor in general business, and her innate design sense, Ashley Harris is on her way … in Detroit. She’s a product engineer at Magna International, designing car seat upholstery, while running her own up-and-coming design house. Harris has been working on her own label in addition to a full-time job for nearly seven years.

Ashley Harris design

Harris says she wouldn’t trade her “experiences in New York for the world. FIT taught me so many valuable skills in textiles and materials, draping, patterning, and even creating tech packs and bills of material that I use today.”

She makes this career path sound logical in every way. “While designer labels hold their status in Detroit, there’s an authenticity that surpasses trends here. In Detroit, you can dress a certain way for 20 years and it will still be cool as long as it’s a representation of who you are” she says.

“A new generation is planting its roots here,” says Harris.

Ashley Harris design

Like New York, Detroit is also eclectic, says Harris. “Many venture off before making their way back. I spent a few years on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Among the shiny new stores and buildings, we still have that raw Detroit edge. There is so much history and culture here, around which that newness is being built. The new is not replacing the old. It is a cool evolution to watch.”

Ashley Harris design

Dean Troy Richards of the School of Art and Design recalls “the people of Detroit being remarkable for their grit and determination” during his time there as a graduate student at Cranbrook Art Academy.

“Even when the Motor City was only in the early stages of turning around its economy, there was an optimism and energy that empowered the creative community,” says Dean Richards.

“Ashley Harris clearly possesses that same positive force and is using it to contribute to the growing fashion industry of Detroit. We are lucky to count her as an alum of FIT”  – Dean Troy Richards

Ashley Harris design

For Harris building her name in a rapidly changing Detroit has been rewarding. Multiple apparel factories have opened, and more are coming in, she says.

“Although we have a small fashion industry in Detroit, the people involved are close and are working together to build it into more.”

Ashley Harris design

Harris’ client base represents Detroit’s growing diversity and economic vitality. She mostly creates originals for clients in the Detroit area now, but says she hopes to eventually manufacture small runs. She’s been specializing in cocktail dresses and eveningwear.

Ashley Harris designs

“I love being one-on-one with a client and creating something that makes her feel empowered,” says Harris.

“The women I’ve had the pleasure of designing for are from diverse backgrounds, and those cultural influences can be seen in some of my pieces. I’m proud to be able to touch the lives of so many women from my city through my designs.”

Ashley Harris design

Harris lists her fashion influences as Giambattista Valli, Alexis Mabille, Zimmerman, and Johanna Ortiz. “I love Zimmerman’s iconic romantic ruffles, pouf sleeves and mini hemlines. Johanna Ortiz’s roots from her Columbian background also inspire her work with ruffles and fluid silhouettes. Alexis Mabille and Giambattista Valli are my favorite couture artists because of their dramatic silhouettes.”

Ashley Harris Design

So what reflects good design in car seats?

Fashion Design is much like seat-trim engineering, Harris says.

“Designing a seat trim cover is actually very similar to designing apparel. I worked on a model year 2021 vehicle this past year and learned the in’s and out’s of seat development. I start by draping material on the foam pad of the seat – exactly like draping a dress on a mannequin – and then I make changes to improve fit and appearance. I also use flat-patterning techniques within seat design.”

Ashley Harris design

She notes that car seats are intricate with decorative stitching and dramatic shapes. Part of the engineering goes into how the different materials react when sewn together and how they react when the seat functions to recline or move in any other way. Another interesting part of seat design is how the trim-cover attaches to a foam pad or the structure it’s rested on.

Miss Michigan. Ashely Harris design

Some seats are really “stylish” she says. “Some manufacturers and custom car designers use quilting, ruching and pleating within their designs. Some use multicolored decorative stitching. I’ve worked on seats with specialized leather perforation patterns that make the seats look very chic.”

Ashley Harris Design
Ashley Harris Design

Harris’s time-juggling ability is a key asset. Note that minor in business on her way to her undergraduate BS degree. “I work full time at my engineering job. Time outside of that is dedicated to dress-making or a show or photo-shoot that’s in the works.”

Her dual FIT majors also help tie things together. “When I was in college, if you would have told me I’d have ‘engineer’ in my job title at 30 years old, I would have laughed. I knew I wanted to do fashion, but I wanted to do it my own way.”

Ashley Harris Design

When Harris returned to Detroit in 2013 she managed high-volume retail stores like Abercrombie & Fitch, Coach and Club Monaco for four years there before landing the job in automotive seat trim design.

“Management experience, my internship for Vera Wang in NYC, my knowledge of textiles, sewing, draping and degrees set me apart from other candidates. My management roles played a huge part in being successful.”

“Ashley represents what FIT students do so well and that is creatively adapt and succeed in the world, while staying true to a personal vision,” says Dean Richards. “She has found success and satisfaction in her job in the auto industry, but continues to pursue her passion in her fashion design and that is truly inspiring” says Dean Troy Richards

Harris says that when things get challenging she reflects back on her FIT experience. “While interning I got to see how a design studio was run, how pieces were created, reviewed by teams of people, and ultimately got to attend a show at fashion week. We do the same process in seat trim and the big event is the auto show. For me, seat trim design has been equally as fulfilling as fashion design” she says.

Ashley Harris sewing masks. Her employer MAGNA, has goine all-out worlwide to make them in its factories.

“I have been given incredible opportunities in the city that has my heart” says Harris.

Follow Ashley Harris on Instagram @ashleyharrisdesign, and on Facebook: Ashley Harris Design.

Read the Detroit Free Press article about how Harris and others at Magna are using their car seat sewing skills to supply surgical face masks to the medical community.

Images used with permission.

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Enchanting High Art Earns Recognition

Oscar Yohe Tapia is a finalist among thousands of entries from more than 60 countries in the High Art competition this year. He is a student in Illustration Professor Anthony Freda’s Advanced Pictorial Problem Solving class. Tapia’s entry started as a class assignment.

“Little One” by Oscar Yohe Tapia

Tapia’s digital creation, “Little One,” is a colorful fantasy “that brings to mind the fluid line, psychedelic palette and organic forms of the great [visual artist] James Jean” says Prof. Freda.

“Entering competitions is an important way for artists and illustrators to promote their work and broaden their brand recognition,” said Prof. Freda. “For instance, we help and encourage students to enter the Society of Illustrators student competition.

Freda is always on the alert for contests for his students to enter to get used to promoting their work.

“Serenity” by Wei-Lun-Lin

Freda came across the High Art competition via Juxtapoz and entered it himself last year; it is open to both professional and amateur artists.

“The highly creative and open theme of the contest, and the fact that it is free to enter, made it a great learning opportunity,” said Freda. “They can practice entering contests, have their work seen on a widely shared forum and create a compelling work for their portfolio.” There also is $50,000 in prize money.

“Sanctuary” by Lee Cassara

“The students were excited about the project and dove into the work. I was familiar with the contest. My work was included among the finalists last year, so I was able to help guide them towards creating imagery that would stand out to the judges,” says Prof. Freda.

“They all came up with clever concepts and worked diligently on their final art. One student created a stunning piece that I knew was a contender,” says Prof. Freda of Tapia’s creation. “This is a sophisticated piece of work. The honor is well deserved.”

Images used with permission

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Prof. Shannon Leddy and her students work from home in style and comfort. You can too!

At the start of the conversion to remote learning, Interior Design Professor Shannon Leddy asked her students to share photos of their work spaces on Blackboard’s discussion board. They were thrilled to have a special view of each other’s personal spaces, says Prof. Leddy, who contributed photos of her work space as well. “It was wonderful to see the care they took to find that perfect surface or nook to work from where they would be happy and be set up for success,” says Prof. Leddy.

Bruna Da Silva

For the rest of us, Prof. Leddy has gone a step further. She has provided design ideas and suggestions for working from home in ways that will keep mind, body and spirit healthy” throughout this temporary new norm.

Mia Felicissimo

Here are her suggestions:

Because we are living and working in the same place, sometimes even the same room, try to keep your work space area separate from your bedroom-sleep space. For those of you in small apartments, try to have a physical separation from work and play, or rest, even if it’s within the same room.

Sophia Cipriano

If any of you have worked from home previously for even a day or two, you know it can be hard to put work “to bed” so that you can be ready for bed.

Sophia Cipriano

You end up staying online for longer than the average day, and it cuts into your personal time.

Gift Mbewe

Keeping computers on and close to you at night when winding down is tempting, distracting and overall unhealthy.  In the morning, it is ideal to step away from the bed and into your now “home-office” so you can start your day right.

You need the separation to “turn off” and wind down. In this way, your bedroom remains your sanctuary.  You will have a better night’s sleep and be refreshed in the morning.

Shannon Leddy

As it became clear we were heading towards working remotely, furniture manufacturers saw an uptick in sales for ergonomic office chairs and sit-stand desks.

Bruna Da Silva

Now, warehouses are closed and many deliveries have been halted, so you may have to work with what you have. Make sure you are sitting in a comfortable chair with good lumbar (lower back) support.

Gift Mbewe

Even adding a pillow back there can help.  Sitting on backless stools at a kitchen counter or too much sofa time with laptops will wear on your body physically, especially on your back, neck and legs.

Reyha Mete

As you’ve probably read in many media articles, be aware of the height of your monitors and keyboards. Your screens should be straight ahead with the center at eye level so as not to develop neck strain. There are blue light glasses and monitor filters also available to make things easier on the eyes. Standard desk or table height can be too high for typing. Your wrists should be straight, parallel with your lap and supported if possible.  Keyboard trays are ideal.

Sabrina Perry

Aesthetically, it is important that your work space be functional and appealing.  Working near a window might normally be distracting, but in these extraordinary times, a connection to the outside is essential.

Our bodies crave natural light and nature.  Statistics show that we spend, on average, more than 90 percent of our time indoors (which includes transportation).  Now, given stay-at-home orders, that percentage has no doubt increased.

Prof. Shannon Leddy

If you do not have ample access to natural light, look through your supply drawer for daylight (5000 degrees K) bulbs or try and find images to print of beautiful natural scenes and motifs to transport you or conjure up a pleasant memory.

Plants can also play a part in improving your environment.  They filter the air and make a bit of oxygen and can be lovely to look at.

Vielis Ramos

Make sure your work space is organized and functional to meet your needs and to help you be productive. Have your supplies at the ready, but also make sure you consider personalization.

Alexandra Heber

Move the objects you love into view so that when you take moments away from the screen, you see photos of loved ones, art you treasure, a special find from a trip or vintage shop, your favorite mug or bowl.

Michael DeGennaro

In reality, you should be comfortable in your work space. If that means you are nestled under a furry throw in bed, with your dog or cat, headphones on, twinkle lights sparkling with your computer atop a big pillow on your lap, then so be it!  Just make sure you get up often for a stretch and a breath of fresh air often.

Oh, and make your bed!

Professor Shannon M. Leddy (Interior Design ’96, Sustainable Interior Environments ‘13) teaches Interior Design Studio and Professional Practice and also teaches in the Summer Live and Summer Middle School programs. She is Principal of Shannon M. Leddy Interior Design, which specializes in residential and commercial design.

Sabrina Perry

All images used with permission.


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The Javits Center: The Site of a Giant Instant Hospital

Something to keep in mind as much-needed temporary hospitals spring up almost overnight in New York City: Tents and temporary partitions can be dynamic and rewarding design projects.

Still from Governor Cuomo’s tour of the Jacob Javits Center

Good design can vastly improve such projects’ utility and vastly cut the time it takes to set them up on-site. The conversion of the Jacob Javits Center to one of the city’s largest medical facilities in just a few days is a good example.

Professor Craig Berger (Visual Presentations and Exhibition Design) says these structures predate the current coronavirus disaster. “There is a long history of specialized spaces being converted to medical use in a natural disaster or pandemic,” he adds.

Makeshift beds at the Jacob Javits Center @Office of Governor Cuomo

Since 2005 when Hurricane Katrina showed limitations in space convertibility in the New Orleans area, a number of companies have taken leadership roles in converting facilities to meet emergency needs, says Prof. Berger.

“Beyond the military, which not only includes hospital ships, but also rapid temporary tent hospitals, convention centers have taken the lead role in convertibility,” he says. “Not only do they have large footprints and floor areas, but modular flats used for convention exhibits and meetings are easy to turn into hospital rooms.”

Still from Video of Governor Cuomo touring the Jacob Javits Center @Office of Governor Cuomo

The Javits Center installation looks nothing like the tent hospital familiar to MASH viewers, and in fact seems surprising to the uninitiated as a hospital venue in the first place.

But Prof. Berger notes that the Javits Center’s large outside doors – a feature few exhibit attendees ever see — can admit additional bathroom and sanitation trucks, and even large amounts of freight such as pallets of medical supplies and equipment.

One of the makeshift hospital beds at the Jacob Javits Center @Office of Governor Cuomo

In fact, Prof. Berger explains, “this is why the Javits Center is generally considered a first choice for temporary emergency medical space.”

All that said, the United States does not have a deep history of developing space for pandemics and usually has used separation techniques – dividing large spaces into small, individual rooms — that are not optimal.

(Video below contains ambient noise, but no speech.)

Today, Prof. Berger says, “modular companies like Octanorm and Classic Exhibits specialize in making mobile partitioning structures that are more anti-microbial,” an exciting and challenging new field for designers. “Most of the exhibition industry is gearing to this now,” he says.

Prof. Craig Berger teaches courses in exhibition design, experience design and design management.  He is the author of “Wayfinding: Designing And Implementing Graphic Navigational Systems.”

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The Calculus of Jessica Wynne’s Chalkboard Photos

An FIT photography professor considers the fascinating visual abstractions expressed on the chalkboards of physicists and mathematicians. We have Professor Jessica Wynne’s remarkable project, her forthcoming book with Princeton University Press, “Do Not Erase.”

Shuai Wang, Columbia University.  Photo: Jessica Wynne

In September, 2019, Prof. Wynne’s work was given full-page treatment in The New York Times Science section, with Dennis Overbye’s article “Where Theory Meets Chalk, Dust Flies.” A flurry of top-tier media attention followed. We still wanted to know more, especially from a visual arts perspective. Here are a few of the things we discussed in our time together:

Q. Documentary photographers try to immerse themselves in the subject they’re covering. How do you do that when it’s the work of mathematics or physicists at a level most of us don’t comprehend?

JW: For me it’s not about understanding what’s on the board. I like that the symbols are mysterious and inaccessible. My interest is in the beautiful abstractions of the formulas. I also find a kinship with the mathematicians. We share similar intentions and are ultimately speaking the same language of discovery and creation.

David Gabai, Princeton University. Photo: Jessica Wynne

Q. Does a conventional classroom or professor’s office with a chalkboard have the proper lighting for you?

JW: For this series I have photographed in a variety of locations; classrooms, math department common rooms, offices, and in some cases the boards are outside, in the woods. In fact, I am planning a trip to a math institute in the Black Forest in Germany, and  I’ve heard that there are lots of boards in the forest.

Q. What are your lighting considerations? Flashes I don’t suppose work well with chalkboards. How do you get around that?

JW: I always use available lighting, preferably natural window light. I never use flash.

Sahar Khan, Columbia University. Photo: Jessica Wynne

Q. You seem to have a great appreciation for math and science. Where does it come from?

JW: My real appreciation for math and science came from doing this project. Also, my parents were both teachers at a boarding school, so I literally grew up in a classroom.

Jessica Wynne photographs the chalkboard of Philip Ording, Sarah Lawrence College. Photo: Philip Ording

Q. In one photograph (above), you’re using a tripod. The subject doesn’t move, so was this for depth of field or lighting purposes?

JW: It is actually for both depth of field and lighting purposes. I often do long exposures, which is why I need the tripod.

Institut des Hautes Etudes Scientifiques, outside Paris. Photo: Jessica Wynne

Q. There’s a stillness in the photos, but they’re not lifeless. Details you’ve captured, like the chalk dust and erasers make it feel as if there are people actively contemplating the equations. Were you aware of this dynamic?

JW: Yes, and I am glad that that comes through in the images.

Q. Are any of the chalkboards the work of multiple scientists?

JW: No, they are all done by individual mathematicians.

Helmut Hofer, Institute for Advanced Study. Photo: Jessica Wynne

Q. Do the scientists see the boards as having an aesthetic or only the equations?

JW: The mathematicians have a great aesthetic awareness.

The British Mathematician G.H. Hardy explores the aesthetics of mathematics in his 1940 essay “A Mathematician’s Apology”:

“A mathematician, like a painter or poet, is a maker of patterns…The beauty of a mathematical theorem depends a great deal on its seriousness, as even in poetry the beauty of a line may depend to some extent on the significance of the ideas that it contains…The mathematician’s patterns, like the painter’s or the poet’s, must be beautiful; the ideas, like the colors or the words, must fit together in a harmonious way. Beauty is the first test: there is no permanent place in the world for ugly mathematics.”

Geoffrey Rogers, FIT. Photo: Jessica Wynne

A. What from this project do you bring back to the classroom? And do you write on a chalkboard or blackboard in class?

JW  By watching over 100 mathematicians writing their formulas on the boards, I have witnessed this beautiful performative act that is stimulating and exciting for students and myself. As a professor, I have taken that excitement and hopefully brought it into my own classroom, because teaching is performative, and if you do not have that visual stimulus in the classroom students will get bored and disengage.

Wilfrid Gangbo, UCLA. Photo: Jessica Wynne

My own classrooms have whiteboards, which most schools have now. In fact, I recently had to cancel a trip to Cambridge and Oxford because all of the chalkboards were recently replaced with whiteboards.

“Do Not Erase,” will be released in Spring, 2021.  A solo show of the project will be held at Edwynn Houk Gallery in September, 2020.

Associate Professor Wynne has taught in the Photography department at FIT for 12 years. Among the courses she teaches are New Documentary Practices, Senior Photography Seminar, Creative Approaches in Photography and Photography 4: Project Development.

Images used with permission

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Ielyzaveta Ignatyeva Aims to Improve Lives and Offer Dignity through Design

A common misconception about interior design, says Ielyzaveta Ignatyeva, is that it is a decorative pursuit geared toward the affluent. The sixth-semester Interior Design student has just been selected as the East Region finalist for the 2019-20 Interior Design Educators Council Student Competition for her design for HOPES, a community outreach center for the homeless.

“This project is important to me. I want to improve people’s lives through design,” she says.

Ielyzaveta Ignatyeva

Ignatyeva’s HOPES center would provide essential needs, temporary comfort and security  for homeless visitors.  It is suited for services focusing on “reinventing lives and gifting them hope for the future,” she says.

“Based on a robust research foundation, Ielyzaveta’s project illustrates the depth of understanding of the client, and fulfills programmatic requirements. It reflects sensitivity to the needs of the homeless population; it is elegant and beautifully presented,” says Assistant Chair of Interior Design Grażyna Pilatowicz.

HOPES center layout part 1

Ignatyeva’s design proposal aims at combating the stigma associated with homelessness. “Furniture layouts and design would act to limit anxiety and be as individualized as possible, and will allow for a pragmatic design,” she says.

“My focus is on providing specialized activity areas, for counseling and career-building, technology and skill training, social collaboration, outdoor experiences, and areas for pets, to accommodate the concerns beyond just physiological needs.”

Hopes center layout part 2

Her forward-thinking design for HOPES includes eco-friendly, upcycled and affordable furnishings, finishes, and materials.

HOPES center floor plan

“I want to help alleviate the fears that come with being homeless and looking for shelter. The visitors will be welcomed and not overwhelmed by an over-designed space,” she says.

HOPES reception area

Ignatyeva grew up in a small town in Ukraine raised by her mother and grandmother. Her first attempt at design was building an alcove-cafe in her backyard.

“My passions were landscaping and interior design. I was also interested in hospitality and residential design from an early age, being fascinated with beautiful homes, restaurants, and hotels,” she says.

This past summer, Ignatyeva worked for a New York City boutique specializing in hospitality and residential designs. “Since then, I started noticing a target gap, specifically, underserved communities, when it comes to interior design. My new passion is interiors that are inclusive of all income levels and social status.”

HOPES waiting area

The message communicated through Ignatyeva’s design is: “feeling human, feeling heard and respected,” she says. “We need increased focus restoring the lives of people who have fallen victim to neglect.”

“We are proud and delighted that Ielyzaveta’s project will now be judged against the best Interior Design schools from around the country. In our eyes, she is already a winner, ” says Professor Grażyna Pilatowicz.

Images used with permission.
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Cornelia Hediger’s LA billboard work dominates the landscape

Photography Professor Conelia Hediger’s current work on view is not a blink-and-you-miss-it experience.  Her large-format images are mounted on one of 34 Los Angeles’ billboards that are part of the Billboard Creative 2020 exhibition. Hediger’s duel photo montage, from her series “Into the Vortex,” can engage an audience from over 100 feet away.

“Iggy’s Day Off”  (l)  “What is left behind,” (r). Photo montages by Cornelia Hediger

The images from Prof. Hediger’s series seem serendipitously well-suited for a billboard treatment. According to her artist’s statement, the series explores “a whimsical world where focal planes are shifting and tilting, where characters, at times, are blown out of proportion and dwarf the landscapes around them.”

Prof. Hediger’s billboard is on Highland Avenue between Fountain and Lexington avenues. The exhibition runs from February 3-28. An interactive map that shows the layout of billboards is available at the Billboard Creative website.

“Iggy’s Day Off”  (l)  “What is left behind,” (r). Photo montages by Cornelia Hediger

Prof. Hediger teaches Photography for Artists, Basic Digital Photography for Visual Design Communication and Beginning Digital Photography.

Hediger is an award-winning photographer whose work has been exhibited throughout Europe and the U.S.  Her work has been featured in Glamour Espana, PHOTONEWS, GEOkompakt, SHOTS Magazine, BLINK, The Wall Street Journal, ARTE, Photo Technique, PHOTO+, HotShoe, SNOCKS, Visura Magazine, New York magazine, Vision Magazine and elsewhere.

An upcoming film “Photomontage,” directed by Sam Vladimirsky will feature Prof. Hediger’s work.

To see more of Prof. Hediger’s work visit her website at: CorneliaHediger, and follow her on Instagram @corneliahediger

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Optimism Rides with Skateboard Art

Skateboards may be vehicles for aerial stunts, rail stands and kick flips, but in Professor Leslie Cober’s Pictorial Problem Solving class they’re another type of canvas. For their final projects her students experimented with alternative mediums for designing skateboard decks to the theme “optimism.”

Yarlen Paulino. Photo by: John Gutierrez
“I like drawing pretty ladies and using limited color palates. I also love glitter.” – Yarlen Paulino @lemoncremeart

A skateboard deck is a departure from what’s most commonly considered as a showcase for illustrations. We’re attuned to seeing illustrations in publications, on posters, advertisements, book covers, and children’s books.  “But illustration also covers art assigned for music, fashion, merchandise, home goods, paper goods, and drawings for package design,” says Prof. Cober.

Cynthia Gaviria. Photo by: John Gutteriez

“”Long live the stupid, corny radical 90s aesthetic that I unironically love so much.” – Cynthia Gaviria @mettamaxie

Matthew Anderson. Photo by: John Guttierez
“I feel most optimistic when I’m at the ocean, so I submerged my subject in it.” – Matthew Anderson @MatthewDrawsPeople

Prof. Cober acquired 20 blank decks for the students to work on. The skateboard itself has three major parts. The deck being the board, usually made of wood, is what the rider stands on. The other two elements are the “trucks” holding the wheels. A skateboard can have any number of decks.

Niko LoPresti and David Wetstein. Photo by: Anna Fitzpatrick
“To me, ‘good vibes’ is a tacky, neon bowling alley carpet from the 90s. It captures the feeling of happy and carefree fun.” – Niko Lopresti @WLZARDS
“My concept was to communicate a sense of balance. I thought that mermaids would be an effective way to fit inside the unique shape of the canvas and provide an illustration that could be viewed double-sided. Both sides contrast each other while still sharing elements of the other.” – David Wetstein @dvidsteinart
Rico Ford. Photo by: John Gutierrez
“I wanted to capture the essence of adventure. College is all about discovering the unknown, so it’s up to you take flight.” -Rico Ford

Students began by creating pencil and pen sketch ideas on paper. After final revisions they recreated their work on their decks, using mixed materials.  “They spent time discussing, conceptualizing and sketching their ideas that would align with the assignment theme of ‘optimism,'” said Prof. Cober.

Sarah Haskell. Photo by: John Gutierrez
“I wanted to visually express inclusivity. The hands spell out love in sign language, and the rainbow signifies acceptance no matter your sexuality. People are climbing the hands to express overcoming the obstacles that love can have.” – Sarah Haskall @art1ofakind

The project and its theme are timely. A new film about skateboarding girls in Afghanistan has an emphasis on optimism and empowerment in a very rough part of the world.  “Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl)” just won an Oscar for best documentary short subject at the 92nd annual Academy Awards.

Emmanuel Agwam.  Photo by: John Gutierrez

“I think students need to be encouraged to think in an optimistic way; it’s about motivation and encouragement.  It’s part of being a teacher to be able to get students to think as artists,” says Prof. Cober.

Elizabeth Yun. Photo by: John Gutierrez
“It can be hard to be optimistic in the current world, but it shouldn’t hold back pleasures in life,” says Elizabeth Yun. “I want to experience unforgettable moments and have a positive outlook.” – Elizabeth Yun

Photography Professor Curtis Willocks arranged for student photographers John Gutierrez and Anna Fitzpatrick to photograph the students with their skateboard decks.

Prof. Cober’s Pictorial and Problem Solving class. Photo: Rachel Ellner

These and other skateboard decks from Prof. Cober’s class, are on display outside the Illustration department office on the third floor of the Pomerantz, “D” building.

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