It is altogether possible to walk through our Art and Design Gallery in the Pomerantz lobby and never notice the glass-encased balcony-like space situated directly over the entrance turnstiles. After all, the gallery is so dazzling and its displays so captivating that your attention is riveted to what is immediately before you. However, for several weeks over the past academic year, that space above the gallery—which we call The Studio—beckoned with equal allure as it showcased FIT’s first “artist-in-residence” program. The program’s mission is to bring in outside artists recommended by faculty who will engage with our students and faculty in projects that reflect the artists’ specialty. Under the supervision of acting associate dean of art and design Melanie Reim, it had a soft launch in October with FIT alum John Anthony’56 who conducted a master class in fashion design for approximately 25 students. The program really took off in the spring semester during which time three artists with very different practices occupied the Studio, each for three consecutive days. There were Kathleen Granados, who creates sculptures from fibers and everyday objects, Ruben Marroquin , a textile designer and weaver and Bethany Robertson, an illustrator and hand-lettering artists.
With each artist, the 856 square foot Studio—formally room D-223—looked altogether different. When Ruben Marroquin was in residence, the worktables were filled with colorful yarns and small looms that he supplied—while the interior walls displayed the artist’s own work: images vibrantly stitched with yarns. Participating students took to the looms, discovering their expressive possibilities in terms of color and design. The Studio was equally alive with Kathleen Granados, whose own fiber-based sculpture acted as inspiration for the students who were asked to create artwork based on a line of poetry they received from the artist. The students working with Bethany Robertson were given paper to cut and fold that was integrated onto a brilliantly-colored oversized foam-based installation resembling botanical and organic forms.
The artists worked with students during the common hour on two days. On a third day,- they were free to use the studio for their own work. While faculty invited their students to take part, in fact, many of the participating students were drop-ins—curious passersby who were lured in by the activities they witnessed. For these students in particular, the “artist-in-residence” program was a real plus: they walked in with no expectations and walked out having expanded their artistic skills and horizons. The enthusiasm and excitement in the studio was palpable—enough to attract some attention from viewers in the downstairs gallery. An excellent start to a very worthwhile program!