For those of you who missed it, this year’s SVA Alumni Society exhibition, “The Sports Show,” was on view at the SVA Chelsea Gallery from August 22 through September 19, with a reception attended by many of the featured artists held on the evening of September 10. The show was co-curated by Todd Radom (BFA 1986 Media Arts), secretary of the SVA Alumni Society’s board of directors, and Jane Nuzzo, director of SVA Alumni Affairs and Development.
True to its name, “The Sports Show” included a range of creative works inspired by, or taking their subject from, any number of athletic endeavors—from baseball to swimming to mini-golf. The selected art was similarly diverse. There were portraits of superstars, like basketball’s LeBron James, who was photographed by Sarah Friedman (BFA 1993 Photography), and soccer’s Mia Hamm, photographed by Frank W. Ockenfels 3 (BFA 1983 Photography). There were dreamlike illustrations of women swimmers by Elizabeth Baddeley (MFA 2012 Illustration as Visual Essay). There were paintings of baseball scenes by Graig Kriendler (BFA 2002 Illustration), and team logos by Radom. And the participating alumni spanned nearly all of the College’s history—“The Sports Show” even included work by the late Bill Gallo (1953), the longtime, award-winning sports cartoonist for the New York Daily News, who died in 2011.
In all, the exhibition presented a look at just how closely athletics and aesthetics are interrelated. Just as some of the earliest art aimed to capture
and celebrate bodies in motion, today, thousands of years on, artists in all fields find similar inspiration in the drama
and grace of sports. And, as Radom pointed out in his essay for the show’s catalog, “sports fans might be the most ardent brand loyalists on earth. . . . Logos and uniforms connect generations of people who follow their favorite athletes and teams with fierce dedication and intensity.” [Greg Herbowy]
HEARD AT SVA
“People underestimate what they give their kids to read. What you read as a kid is the basis of all the books that you’re going to put on top of that. So if you read, like, My Little Pony, good luck reading Faulkner after that.”
Liniers, Argentine cartoonist. From a conversation with cartoonist and SVA faculty member Steve Brodner, hosted by MFA Visual Narrative.
SVA On Demand
Last June, SVA introduced its first online continuing-education offerings: three design courses conceived and taught, per College tradition, by working professionals in the field. After a successful, fully enrolled summer session, the courses—Digital Portfolio Design, Principles of Visual Language: Form and Color, and Typography and Identity—were all offered again for the fall and are currently in session. This coming spring they will run again, along with three new online courses in writing and the visual arts: The Artist as Philosopher, Screenwriting Workshop and Writing for Comics. The development of online courses in photography for fall 2016 is already under way.
SVA Online is a collaborative initiative, put together through the shared efforts of the College’s Office of the Provost, Division of Continuing Education and Office of Learning Technologies. “Our goal,” says Jennifer Phillips, director of the Office of Learning Technologies, “is to offer students who don’t live in New York City access to our faculty, which is a tremendous resource. All of the SVA Online instructors teach at SVA in other capacities—and they’re all exceptional artists and designers, working in their respective fields. It can be difficult to find such a concentrated and high caliber of professional expertise outside of the city.”
All SVA Online courses are hosted on Canvas, a learning management system compatible with nearly
all computers that have a reliable Internet connection. They are also “asynchronous,” meaning that students can learn and participate on their own schedule, regardless of time zone.
At 7:00pm on Wednesday, November 11, at the SVA Theatre, the Will and Ann Eisner Family Foundation and the SVA Alumni Society will host a conversation with famed cartoonist Jules Feiffer and writer, editor and former president of DC Comics Paul Levitz. The event will benefit the SVA Alumni Society’s Will Eisner Sequential Art Award Fund, which was established by the foundation in 2008 in memory of Eisner, an influential comics artistongtime SVA faculty member who died in 2005. The award is given to support a thesis project of an SVA undergraduate or graduate student whose work is in the field of “sequential art,” a term coined by Eisner.
Eisner’s work as a cartoonist was integral to establishing the graphic novel as a literary form. His 1978 book A Contract with God and Other Tenement Stories (Baronet) was one of the earliest graphic novels. Its subject, Jewish immigrants who live in a Bronx tenement house, showed how versatile comics, then best known for pulpy entertainment, could be. But Eisner, a versatile and prolific creator, also excelled in the action-packed stories of superheroes and villains that the medium is still best known for. This year marks the 75th anniversary of the debut of The Spirit, his serial about the eponymous crime-fighter. It is a work that has proved to be enduringly popular. Last summer, DC released a hardcover anthology of the series, which also includes new Spirit stories by contemporary artists and writers, and Dynamite Entertainment, another comics publisher, introduced a new monthly series based on Eisner’s creation.
The SVA Theatre event will closely follow the publication of Levitz’s latest book, Will Eisner: Champion of the Graphic Novel (Abrams ComicArts), which features a contribution by Feiffer, who, early in his career, worked as Eisner’s assistant. Both Levitz and Feiffer will be available to sign books at the gathering. For more information, visit sva.edu/events. [Jane Nuzzo]
“I’ve made my living as a writer for 42 years, and people will say to me, ‘What’s going to happen to writing?’ I find it now challenged in a way that it hasn’t been. It used to be challenged through suppression and through scarcity. The challenge now is abundance. There’s so much writing, and so much text, and so much online.”
Ian Frazier, writer. From a talk hosted by MA Design Research, Writing and Criticism.
In mid-October, SVA hosted its 29thHumanities and Sciences conference, at the Warwick New York Hotel. Organized by the College’s Humanities and Sciences Department, the conference is an annual gathering of academics, writers, artists and studio professionals to discuss contemporary issues in art history, art practice and the humanities. Past conferences have covered questions surrounding artistic collaboration, the relationship between words and images, and representations of war in art.
This year’s topic of discussion:
What is art? Conference director Dr. Maryhelen Hendricks, co-chair of SVA Humanities and Sciences, chose the theme because, as she admits, after 40 years of working at SVA and contributing to the arts, she still doesn’t know the answer. To keep the dialogue as open-ended as possible, she asked attendees to consider the prompt “Art is . . .” when submitting proposals and papers for presentation and encouraged entries from all disciplines. The presentations included papers incorporating concepts from architecture, fine arts, graphic art, film and photography, and fashion, among other pursuits. Topics of discussion included grassroots movements in art communities, outsider and expat art, and teaching philosophies that emphasize artistic technique over theory. Some speakers offered a wide-ranging definition of art, seeing it as merely what you make; others focused on defining art through the experience and interpretation of its audience, shifting meaning away from the artist and his or her intentions.
The conference’s keynote speaker was writer and art historian Carter Ratcliff. The author of several works of fiction, nonfiction and poetry, Ratcliff has a diverse perspective on how the concept of “art” has morphed and mutated across disciplines since the postwar period. His keynote, “Art Is,” considered art’s permanent role as an “indispensible” cultural phenomenon, as well as such long-held, though contested,
notions as “Art is expression,” “Art is a way to truth” and “Art is a commodity.”
To maintain its membership in the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, the organization that oversees colleges and universities in the Mid-Atlantic region, SVA must undergo a comprehensive reaccreditation process every 10 years. This year, MSCHE has invited the College and a handful of other institutions to participate in a pilot program, the Collaborative Implementation Project, which will test-run the commission’s seven newly redrafted standards of excellence.
The first stage of this process is for SVA to research and draft a self-study report, examining all aspects of the College as they relate to MSCHE’s standards of excellence. These standards are Mission and Goals; Ethics and Integrity; Design and Delivery of the Student Learning Experience; Support of the Student Experience; Educational Effectiveness Assessment; Planning, Resources and Institutional Improvement; and Governance, Leadership and Administration. This stage offers the College an opportunity to review its accomplishments over the past decade, clarify its goals for the future and assess its current strengths and areas for potential improvement.
A successful self-study necessarily engages a wide spectrum of the SVA community, so a diverse group of students, faculty, administrators and alumni have been recruited to serve on the self-study steering committee and as members of its seven working groups. Together, they represent the range of perspectives and backgrounds that give the College its distinctive character. The working groups will in turn reach out to more members of the SVA community to conduct interviews as they each investigate the standards of excellence. In the months ahead, you may be asked to take part. If so, please participate; the success of this effort will be measured in part on the College’s success in soliciting as much thoughtful and candid feedback as possible.
For more on the self-study and reaccreditation process, visit selfstudy.sva.edu. [Emily Ross]
HEARD AT SVA
“That term, ‘curator,’ has really been adopted and fetishized recently in mass culture. The work that I’m doing is not just about picking and choosing. . . . [I see myself as] someone who enables the artist to realize their dream.”
Cara Starke, director of exhibitions, Creative Time. From a talk hosted by BFA Visual and Critical Studies.
On April 17, SVA officials gathered with federal, state and local government representatives to break ground on the College’s new residence hall, which is scheduled to open at 407 First Avenue in August 2016. “Aspiring artists come to SVA to learn from industry leaders and be part of a community,” SVA President David Rhodes said at the event. “We owe it to them to provide accommodations to match the world-class education they receive.” For more details on the new building and its design, see “The Art of Living” in the spring 2014 Visual Arts Journal.
Photo by Jacqueline Lannacone
On Saturday, November 21, the second half of a two-part exhibition, “Intimacy in Discourse: Reasonable-Sized and Unreasonable-Sized Paintings,” opens at the SVA Chelsea Gallery. As indicated by its title, the exhibition—which is curated by Phong Bui, an SVA faculty member, artist and the publisher/editor in chief of The Brooklyn Rail—features paintings of both “reasonable” and “unreasonable” dimensions. The “reasonable-sized” portion of the show opened at Mana Contemporary Gallery in Jersey City, New Jersey, in late September. The College’s half, which presents “unreasonable-sized” paintings, will be celebrated with a reception at the SVA Chelsea Gallery on Saturday, November 21, from 6:00 to 8:00pm.
The exhibition’s “reasonable-sized” paintings are so called because they were made by painters who consistently work with sizes that can be carried under one’s arm. Bui cites artist Thomas Nozkowski, who regularly works in this mode (his standard sizes for canvasses are 16 x 20" and 22 x 28") as the inspiration for this category; his 2011 painting Untitled (9-7) is among the works showing at Mana. “Unreasonable-sized” paintings, Bui says, are considered to be more “spontaneous” or “unpremeditated” works, their scales determined not by habit or reason but
by mere chance. His chosen examples for this grouping include pieces by
Lois Dodd, Chris Martin, Juan Ulsé and Lisa Yuskavage.
“Intimacy in Discourse: Reasonable-Sized and Unreasonable-Sized Paintings” is on view at both
Mana Contemporary and the SVA
Chelsea Gallery through Tuesday, December 22. For more information on the exhibition, visit manafinearts.com and sva.edu/galleries. [GH]