What a treat it is to experience the many visually stunning, large-scale exhibits on our campus.
Right now, the “Pink” and “Fashion Unraveled” exhibits at The Museum at FIT beckon to passersby on Seventh Avenue, as does the newly opened Gallery at the Fred. P. Pomerantz Art and Design Center—with its soaring glass façade—which is hosting “The Future of the Human Experience,” a show featuring figurative work by FIT students, faculty, and alumni.
And all this is occurring amid the flurry of activity on our exterior walls as this year’s “Chalk” exhibit, a 300-foot-long, street-level mural, is literally being chalked in place along Seventh Avenue and West 28th Street by our illustration majors to great neighborhood interest and enthusiasm.
But along with the large-scale exhibits on display all over campus, we are fortunate to also host many that are smaller in scale. One that particularly captured my attention is on display in the corridor outside of the Great Hall. Called TRANS: ID, it is no less intriguing and fascinating than our larger productions. The show includes the work of FIT students, as well as students from Manchester Fashion Institute in the UK, and Bunka College of Fashion in Tokyo, Japan.
Participating students were asked to develop a visual interpretation of a word with the prefix “trans.” The response from this international group of students was remarkable. I was especially impressed by the variety of “trans” words that they chose (ie: transpose, translate, transgender, transformation, translucent, transit)—and the way the words were visually interpreted through photography, illustration, graphic design, fashion design, jewelry design, and toy design. One of my favorite features of the show, along with its international reach, are the brief, written explanations by the students that explain what motivated their choice of words and approach to the images. These provide a glimpse into the thought processes behind the images, which I found to be both fascinating and thought-provoking.
My concept for the TRANS poster revolved around the word transform. I wanted to keep the design typographical and only use the letterforms from the word transform. The idea was to transform the letter ‘T’ using only type. This transformation created a key shape that represents the opening of a path to the idea of TRANS. In the end, I chose to separate the terms trans and form to give more emphasis on each phrase.
Alchemy is a medieval chemical science and speculative philosophy aimed at achieving the transmutation of base metals into gold. It is also interpreted as a power or process that transforms something in a mysterious or impressive way. Similarly, “The Combines” are hybrid works that associate painting with collage and assemblage of a wide range of objects taken from everyday life. From stuffed birds, to Coca-Cola bottles, newspapers to press photos, fabric, wallpaper, door and windows, it is as though the whole universe enters into Robert Rauschenberg’s combinatorial process to join forces with paint. The artwork is daring and experimental, showing transformation. The garment I created is an eclectic mix, consisting of scraps of fabrics patched together- ropes covered with colorful threads, plastic, painted burlap, texture, threadwork, hand-painted text and fabric manipulation. Every piece of fabric in the garment is manipulated in some way to show transformation from its raw state. Thus, the concept is based on using less valuable and waste material to make garments of real value. The garment also emphasizes the importance of “zero waste”, which is the need of the hour.
The title of my piece is called “The Melting Point,” and this piece is an interpretation of transformation. In the first panel, you can see two creatures in their original forms. In the next two panels, they start mutating or transforming with the result being on the last panel. The physical form of the alligator changes into a different creature, but some of its original features are still on the outside. The skeletons outside appearance changes completely, but his original form is underneath his new one.
From the start, I knew I wanted to create a piece that would be more artistic and expressionistic, more than design. I feel with this project we had the chance to be more creative since the topic is so broad. I took this to my advantage and incorporated a lot of my own style giving my composition a messy look. The concept behind the cyclone is to show the text becoming apart and breaking the structure of the vertical type. I added a grunge texture to emphasize my style and create contrast between the white and black colors.
“It’s part of the process of human evolution to come to a dark struggle. To be able to create life, seeds must grow in darkness, to become a butterfly, they must beforehand form themselves into a pupa and to make wine, freshly harvested grapes must be crushed. When one has an impression of being in the dark, pressured and pressed, one is in a powerful phase of transmutation.” – Dominque Castelano
I propose the transcendental as a response to the irrationality of the world we live in. When bigotry prevails, when governments set themselves against their own people and humans slowly destroy the nature that feeds and covers them, we have no choice but to seek the spiritual for some sense and perspective. We crave the non-physical when the physical is incomprehensible. My artwork is a digital collage, completed on Photoshop and based on pictures I’ve taken during my travels. It is meant to transport you, visually and emotionally, to the realm of the transcendental.
For this piece, I wanted to demonstrate the experience of riding the New York subway. I decided to show this in a one page comic. In this mini comic, I show a typical New Yorker’s behavior when trying to catch a train, sticking the feet in between the closing doors to make it inside successfully. However, if one is not careful upon entering the train, it is possible to have one of your belongings get caught between the closing doors. In this case, the main character gets his backpack stuck when entering the train, and now he struggles to free it meanwhile everyone inside the train watches his unfortunate situation.
Defined as “existence or experience beyond the normal or physical level,” transcendence captures the idea of which one may find higher meaning within a normal experience. This image depicts the motion of water, yet simultaneously emits the cosmic energy of the universe. The connections drawn between interstellar space and one of water’s earthen forms not only show the scale at which it can be examined, but also shows the complexity of the element itself. Water is incredibly expressive in its own fluidity and existence of which it can transcend.
The exhibit was co-curated by Professor Melanie Reim, acting associate dean of the School of Art and Design, along with colleagues from Manchester Fashion Institute and Bunka College of Fashion. The team selected 50 images, of which 13 were by FIT students. The poster for the show was created by Jose Martinez, a freshman in our Graphic design program.
The show runs through November 2. I’ve included some images from the show, but I hope you will have an opportunity to enjoy it in person.