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 ProfessorAnthony Freda’s Advanced Pictorial Problem Solving class. Tapia’s entry started as a class assignment.
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.
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.
“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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
You end up staying online for longer than the average day, and it cuts into your personal time.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
Her forward-thinking design for HOPES includes eco-friendly, upcycled and affordable furnishings, finishes, and materials.
“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.”
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.
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.
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.
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
Skateboards may be vehicles for aerial stunts, rail stands and kick flips, but in Professor Leslie Cober’sPictorial 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.”
“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.
“”Long live the stupid, corny radical 90s aesthetic that I unironically love so much.” – Cynthia Gaviria @mettamaxie
“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.
“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
“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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
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.
One of the things that intrigues Photography Professor Allen Hochman is the degree of “problem-solving” required to produce a stellar image. For their Introduction to Light final projects, students had to photograph a fictional or historical character. Several here discuss how they brainstormed, dealt with lighting and styling considerations, and in one case, put together a team for the day of the shoot.
In photographing Eris, the goddess of discord, Victor Pickens, encountered some tumult of his own. The day of his shoot, his team canceled. “I enlisted the help of a friend, a sophomore, and a fashion design student I flagged down in the hallway. It was a blessing. The student stylist draped the dress in classical style in keeping with the goddess’ chaotic nature.”
Aimed a light from above, cascading the elimination from the apple down toward the ensuing chaos.
Printed the photograph and prepared a wooden panel coated in gold leaf for contrast between the “simplistic and gaudy style of Byzantine icon paintings and the crisp, seemingly shallow, Classical style.”
Added highlights and text in egg tempera, with Greek words such as Kallisti (for the fairest; kano polemos (make war); Eris vikae (Eris prevails); xaos (chaos); and kati (evil eye). The halo is typical of Byzantine icon paintings.
“I love mixing fine art with fashion photography. I feel it is a successful image I am proud of,” says Perkins.
“I wanted to show the story of Medusa dying and turning to stone from her own reflection,” says Briana Bene-Espinal.
Chose a model with piercing blue-green eyes, to create the eerie look of Medusa.
Created a golden neckpiece of snakes, and applied gold and glowing makeup.
Photographed in her bathroom — where she was able to create a mist using a mechanism that creates fogs in fountains — she created the ambiance of an underwater cave.
Photoshopped part of the character’s face to appear as though Medusa is transforming into stone as she looks at herself.
“Choosing how to go about this assignment was a challenge at first,” says Kristen Jones. I’m proud of what I came up with.” Jones chose Huey Freeman, who appears in the T.V. show “The Boondocks,” an adult cartoon she says is “super funny and relatable.”
Steps she took:
Balanced her tripod on wooden boxes to get the camera to be taller than herself.
Connected her camera to her phone so that she could press the shutter button remotely.
Lit the photo by placing a scoop light on the inside of a bookend to create an even, diffuse light. In post-processing, she played with the lighting, shadows, and textures to create the filter seen in the photos.
“I had to position myself in order to mimic Huey’s expression, and to look flat-chested. While I titled this “If Huey Freeman was a Girl,” I wanted the photo to look as close to him as possible,” says Jones. “I’m proud of what I came up with!”
Celia Banbahji chose to photograph the clown from the movie “It.” “What better way to express my love of clowns?”
How it came about:
“Every October during Halloween, Six Flags has what’s known as Fright Fest where clowns and other scary creatures walk around the theme park and scare people…I told one of the guys with a chainsaw that I was a photographer and if he ever wanted me to do a photo shoot to let me know. I asked him if he had a clown suit and knew how to apply clown makeup and he did. We met and did a shoot near SoHo. It was probably the funniest and most amusing shoot I’ve done to this day,” says Banbahji.
Nina Glover chose a fictional version of the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. She did this by recreating Kahlo’s famous “Self Portrait as a Tehuana.”
Composed the image in two separate steps using photography and illustration. Took a photo of the combined image.
Created a headpiece by layering real flowers and a decorative place mat similar to what Kahlo wears in the painting.
Put white fabric over her body; printed the image on matte paper and drew Diego Rivera’s face onto Kahlo’s forehead.
Drew the spider web and the design pattern onto the image along with signature brows and facial hair.
Her final step: “I put the picture in a frame to present it as a painting,” says Glover.
It was at FIT’s Center for Excellence in Teaching (CET) last year where a costume design professor from the film department noticed Computer Animation professor John Goodwin at his workstation bringing the art of Greek vases to life.
“I animated the lion walking off screen and then back on,” says Prof. Goodwin. “We then added text for site-specific showings.” These included conferences as well as an event at the Iraq Embassy in Washington, D.C. in May, 2019, at which time five FIT Art History majors presented their research on the art of ancient Babylonians.
Watch for the final roar!
Prof. Nagel next supplied high-definition images of the a Winged Griffin creature, which also once adorned the walls of a court of a building in Susa.
“After he saw the animation, he came up with ideas for enhancing it,” says Prof. Goodwin.
FIT Digital Media Coordinator James Pearce added additional augmented reality (AI) for showing the animations in museums.
Augmented reality can create significant cost savings for museums says Prof. Goodwin. No significant equipment is necessary. A museum-goer points a smart phone at the artwork and a video plays.
This stroll along the ancient wall is another AI project for museum and presentation use. Professors Goodwin and Nagel are developing exciting new projects for 2020. Stay tuned!
Three energetic eco-conscious students from the Visual Presentation and Exhibition Design program designed and created a window display on Seventh Avenue to feature Arch & Hook hangers and inform the public about FIT’s commitment to sustainability. The window display can be seen from the outside of the Pomerantz Art & Design Center.
Francesca Moy, Tenzin Sangmo, and Chumou Zhang created the educational showcase that illustrates Arch & Hook’s mission of producing high-quality, custom-made hangers from marine plastics. The project was overseen by Professor Anne Kong.
The students’ original sketches unfold into a compelling display depicting a full-scale whale’s tail (hand-carved and painted by the students) jumping from a water’s surface that is littered with plastic debris.
The students formed a giant wave out of hundreds of hangers to drive the message home and to introduce “Blue” the first sustainable plastic hanger.
The Arch & Hook donation was used to hang over 1,200 garments for the FIT community to shop and swap at the Loop For Good Pop-Up.
Francesca Moy assists Tenzin Sangmo in cutting the green foam board with a jigsaw for the construction of the whale tail.
“This was one of those projects that becomes more than just a project. This window helped us learn that we are more than ready as designers to graduate and show everyone what we can do. I have gained a team I know I can always depend on” says Sangmo.
The experience allowed students to experiment with techniques suitable for exhibition, and it serves as work that they can use for their portfolios.
“It was my first sculpting experience I had a lot of fun. I learned better time planning and management. I had the best teammates and we learned from each other during the project and afterward,” says Zhang.
“The process from developing the concept of the window, fabrication, construction, to bring it all together was an amazing learning experience. I enjoyed a lot working with my team and Arch & Hook to crate this amazing window,” says Moy.