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Volume 20, Number 1
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Investment
Portfolio

A group of 29 alumni from the MFA Photography, Video and Related Media Department have gotten together to create 29 x 29, a limited-edition photography portfolio intended to support The Center for Arts Education (CAE), a nonprofit organization aimed at ensuring that New York City public school students receive quality arts education all throughout their K-12 years. Alumnus Christopher Fisher (MFA 2005 Photography, Video and Related Media) approached department chair Charles Traub with the suggestion for the CAE project which would bring his fellow classmates together, while at the same time helping out a charitable cause.

Working with alumnus Hilary Schaffner (MFA 2010 Photography, Video and Related Media), director of the Halsey Mckay Gallery in East Hampton, New York, Fisher reached out to his former classmates, alumni from the years 2004 to 2006, and invited them to participate in the project. The submissions were selected and compiled to produce a 29-edition portfolio; proceeds from its sale will go to CAE. "Funding for the arts is usually the first thing that gets cut," says Fisher. "We saw this project as a way we can help out and support the organization's mission, which as artists seemed like a perfect fit." "We were delighted to learn of this idea," says Lori Sherman, director of development at CAE. "It's an incredible project by a very talented and generous group of artists. We are honored and excited to be involved."
The signed and numbered portfolios can be purchased via the project's website mfaphoto.sva.edu/29x29. An exhibition featuring the work of the participating artists was recently held at the Bruce Silverstein / 20 Gallery in New York City.
[Keri Murawski]

Top: Thomas Holton, Holy Cow, from the series Varanasi Junction, 2009, inkjet print.
Bottom: Rachel Feierman, Untitled, 2007, inkjet print.

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Stage
Presence


Commencement speaker Laurie Anderson.
Photo ©: Laurie Anderson.

On Thursday, May 10, the SVA community will gather at Radio City Music Hall for the College's 2012 Commencement exercises. President David Rhodes will confer BFA, MAT, MFA and MPS degrees to the approximately 1,100 members of the class of 2012, with family, friends, faculty and colleagues in attendance. The event's featured speaker will be well-known multimedia artist Laurie Anderson. Widely recognized as a pioneer in the use of technology in the arts, she has been an arch observer of the American scene for more than four decades through her work as a visual artist, composer, poet, photographer, filmmaker, vocalist
and instrumentalist.

Anderson has toured the United States and internationally with shows ranging from simple spoken word performances to elaborate multimedia events. In 2002, she was appointed the first artist-in-residence for NASA, an experience that culminated in her 2004 touring solo performance, The End of the Moon. In 2008 she completed a two-year worldwide tour of her performance piece Homeland, which was released to critical acclaim as an album on Nonesuch Records in 2010.

Anderson's recording career was launched in 1980 with O Superman, a haunting single that rose to No. 2 on the British pop charts. Her album releases include Big Science (1982), Mister Heartbreak (1984), United States Live (1984), Strange Angels (1989), Bright Red (1994), and the soundtrack to her feature film Home of the Brave (1986).

As a composer, Anderson has contributed music to films by Wim Wenders and Jonathan Demme; dance pieces by Trisha Brown, Molissa Fenley and Bill T. Jones; and a theatrical production by Robert LePage. Anderson's visual work has been presented in major museums throughout the United States and Europe and is in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art.

Following her address to the class of 2012, Anderson will receive an honorary degree from the College.
[Michael Grant]

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Military Service

Above: Michael Schmidt, Yves Profile, 2001, digital photograph.
Below: Michael Schmidt, Spit Shine, 2011, digital photograph.

SVA has been named to the 2012 list of Military Friendly Schools as one of the top colleges and universities for veterans in the U.S. The list is compiled by the magazine G.I. Jobs, which surveyed more than 8,000 schools across the nation to determine which institutions are most welcoming and offer the best value. The list reflects institutional support in the form of veterans' counselors and advisors, clubs and networking opportunities, schedule flexibility, and scholarships and tuition discounts. SVA is the only college of art and design in the state of New York to earn the designation.

In fact, SVA has a long history of being "military friendly." When the College was founded in 1947 by the late Silas H. Rhodes, himself a World War II veteran, most of its students were on the GI Bill, the 1944 law entitling service members to an affordable education after discharge. In the decades since, SVA has counted numerous veterans on the faculty and in the student body.

Among the 48 veterans currently enrolled is Michael Schmidt, a student in the BFA Photography Department who was a search-and-rescue coordinator in the Coast Guard from 2004 to 2010, first serving in Honolulu, and then New York.

The Post-9/11 GI Bill pays Schmidt's tuition and departmental fees, and he receives a stipend for books and supplies. "I've always said the best thing I ever did in my life was join the military," says Schmidt, adding, "I'm now glad to say the best thing I have ever done is follow my dreams," in reference to his decision to study photography. Since arriving at SVA, Schmidt has had work published in The Washington Post, Popular Photography and other publications.


The Military Friendly Schools list is published in the annual Guide to Military Friendly Schools, which G.I. Jobs distributes to hundreds of thousands of active and former military personnel each fall. The list is also available as a searchable database online at www.militaryfriendlyschools.com.
[Michael Grant]

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Public Service Announcement

Students in the MFA Social Documentary Film Department at SVA are gaining valuable firsthand experience in the field while at the same time helping to support the efforts of half a dozen local not-for-profit organizations. Under the direction of faculty members Joshua Bennett and Bernardo Ruiz, first-year students in the Producing 1 class have been working together in small groups to research, shoot and edit three- to five-minute films about the work of these nonprofits. The organizations can then use the films for fund-raising, promotion and distribution via social media to raise awareness for their causes.

A natural fit with the mission of the MFA Social Documentary program, this ongoing departmental initiative to unite the talents of emerging filmmakers with advocacy and service organizations began last year with a class project under the direction of faculty member Michael Kantor. The project resulted in a short film made for Chess-in-the-Schools, a nonprofit that works with New York City public schoolchildren to improve academic performance through teaching the game of chess. As Ruiz says, "This assignment has the dual benefit of allowing smart, budding documentarians to create a short film for a worthy cause and to give some nonprofits a tool to elevate their outreach through high-quality mini-documentaries."

The organizations selected by the students for this year's assignment included: Dance for PD, which arranges for professionally trained dancers to teach movement and stretching to people with Parkinson's disease; Make the Road, a Brooklyn-based community building, education and social justice organization; Meaningful World, a group that organizes humanitarian outreach programs, workshops and publications; the Sadie Nash Leadership Project, an organization that focuses on mentoring and leadership training for young women; Workforce Enterprises, which offers job training programs to build careers in digital printing; and Visiting Neighbors, which offers support services to the elderly. The resulting short documentaries will be screened on campus in the SocDoc Theater this spring before circulating at fund-raisers around the city and shared across the Web.
[Keri Murawski]

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Cultural Impact


Photos courtosy of the MPS Art Therapy Department.

For three weeks in the summer of 2011, the MPS Art Therapy Department conducted an intensive internship and multicultural training program at an elementary school in the Costa Rican town of Liberia. The program—actually a three-credit graduate course—was carried out in collaboration with Asociación Artística para Niños (ASART), a community-based organization that provides arts instruction to children in need in both Costa Rica and Nicaragua.

Through the program, six MPS Art Therapy students gained international experience—part of a growing trend in the field—and were immersed in Costa Rican culture by living with families near the school. On-site and small-group supervision and multicultural coursework was provided by SVA faculty member and licensed art therapist Liz DelliCarpini; Spanish language instruction and orientation to the area was provided by ASART staff. Students explored how the culture of a Spanish-speaking Central American community affects the therapeutic process; they were provided with opportunities to reflect on their work with clients and the community and to further their development as artists-as-therapists. Students took an active role in the peer group supervision process and spoke out about their concerns and needs as they related to their work at the school.

Culture, ethnicity, race, and economic and political factors all have profound effects on both individuals and groups; understanding how these factors influence the therapeutic process is imperative for effective assessment and clinical intervention. The MPS Art Therapy Department continues to broaden its cultural lens, focusing on social action, community outreach and global perspectives. The department's Costa Rica program—which is open to students who have completed their first year of graduate art therapy study, as well as recent graduates—will take place again this coming summer.
[Aaron Cockle]

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Prepared to Launch


Allan Chochinov, chair, MFA Products of Design.

In September 2012, SVA will launch a pioneering new graduate program, MFA Products of Design. Chaired by Allan Chochinov, editor in chief of Core77, the highly esteemed industrial design Web publication, the MFA will be an extensive two-year program aimed at teaching students how to reimagine systems, create new types of value, and catalyze positive change through the business of making. "Most of the coursework will be project-based, and we will combine emerging science and materials, social systems and business savvy to help students develop the skills and fluency necessary to create positive change," Chochinov says.

First-year MFA Products of Design students will play a crucial role in defining the program, as they will help shape the curriculum. "The first-year studio experience will be a whirlwind of endeavor," Chochinov says, "from soldering Arduino boards to working with NGOs; from deep immersion in research and systems thinking to environmental stewardship, manufacturing and economics."

In addition to gaining valuable skills inside the classroom, students will attend classes off campus at the New York City offices of the design consultancy IDEO and global materials consultancy Material ConneXion. Those who enroll in the program will also be co-mingled with MFA Interaction Design students for two classes, and will occupy studio space adjacent to the new Visible Futures Lab—a state-of-the-art facility stocked with everything from high-tech 3D printers to low-tech shop tools. Says Chochinov: "We are preparing students with the training, education and networks to empower them to fill leadership positions at leading design firms and progressive corporations, to create enterprises, organizations and businesses of their own and to become lifelong ambassadors for the power of design."
[Ken Switzer]

Leif Krinkle, director of the forthcoming Visible Futures Lab,
during construction. Photo by Frank Bonomo
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Small Talk


Photo by Thatcher Cook

In the fall 2012 semester, SVA plans to launch a groundbreaking new graduate program, MFA Design for Social Innovation. Chaired by Cheryl Heller, faculty member and board chair of innovation network PopTech and CEO of Heller Communication Design, the two-year program will teach students how to use design thinking to bring about positive social change. Heller recently discussed her vision for the program with Visual Arts Journal.

What are the goals of MFA Design for Social Innovation?
MFA Design for Social Innovation at SVA will prepare the next design leaders in social innovation, and accelerate the impact of social innovation everywhere through design. Social innovation design has application wherever innovation is needed: in every business, mission-based organization, community, society and government. The era of businesses controlling the future without involving society in its creation has ended. Lasting change will take place only through innovation that engages all disparate stakeholders and aligns them around a common vision that all can see, and to which they are ready and willing to contribute. This is the role of design for social innovation, and these are the next innovation leaders—the people who will help turn complex challenges into actionable opportunities, and create the integrated systems and processes that will lead to a vibrant, ethically responsible future.

What kind of students do you think will apply?
Designers looking for meaningful and engaging professional work. Graduates in other disciplines who want to learn to harness the power of design to create positive impact. Social entrepreneurs who want the skills and knowledge to achieve their mission more quickly and fully. Professionals who have been working in business and want to play a more central, strategic role in their industry. Anyone who wants to have a successful, fulfilling career by turning their good intentions into positive outcomes and use design to drive innovation in businesses, communities and cultures.

What do you hope students will get out of the program?
They will graduate knowing what aspect of design for social innovation they want to work in, because they will have experienced them all. They will have deep, diverse experiences—and relationships—that will help them attract the best jobs. Our graduates will not only be prepared to play transformative roles in business and society, they will already be skilled and experienced in doing so.
[Ken Switzer]

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Four Score
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Sam Lewitt, Untitled (material for Fluid Employment), 2012, digital photograph. Sam Lewitt; courtesy the artist and Miguel Abreu Gallery, New York.

Since 1932, the Whitney Biennial—the signature exhibition of the Whitney Museum of American Art and one of the art world's most highly anticipated events—has kept a firm finger on the pulse of contemporary artistic practice. Of the 51 emerging and established artists whose work appears in the 2012 Biennial (on view through May 27, with additional programming continuing through June 10), four are SVA faculty or alumni—Liz Deschenes (faculty member in the MFA Photography, Video and Related Media Department), Andrea Fraser (1983 Fine Arts), Matt Hoyt (BFA 2000 Fine Arts) and Sam Lewitt (BFA 2004 Fine Arts). Since the early 1990s, Liz Deschenes has been making work that examines the variable nature of photography. For her, abstraction seems most interesting when it is revealed through the exploration of more antiquated imaging processes.

Performance artist Andrea Fraser is most well-known for risqué and controversial works that turn a critical eye on the business of art and its institutional systems of support. "All of my work is about what we want from art, what collectors want, what artists want from collectors, what museum audiences want," Fraser said in a 2004 New York Times article about her video Untitled (2003), in which she filmed herself having sex with an unidentified American collector.

Matt Hoyt's unassuming sculptures are usually displayed in group­ings on wooden shelves. Although they look like rocks or broken pottery he might have collected on a trail walk, the forms are carefully and meticulously constructed. Hoyt's patina-covered objects—made of melted tape, plastic, resin—suggest mutability and are rendered in an intimate scale.

Photographer and sculptor Sam Lewitt explores the connection between language, images and the technologies of print production. New York Times art critic Roberta Smith describes his work as creating a "hermetic, oddly elegiac atmosphere regarding books, the storage and organization of knowledge and advertising…" and having "rather exquisite beauty as an entity."

For more information about the Whitney Biennial 2012, visit whitney.org.
[Lee Ann Norman]

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