About Gateway

Gateway was the community newsletter of Pratt Institute published monthly by the Office of Communications, in the Division of Institutional Advancement through spring 2014. For current Pratt-related news, visit the News page on Pratt’s website.


The New York Times Architecture Critic Michael Kimmelman Offers Inspiration to 2014 Graduates

Michael Kimmelman delivers his commencement address to the class of 2014.The New York Times’ Architecture Critic Michael Kimmelman encouraged graduating students to follow their convictions, to “stop doing well, and to start doing good” at Pratt’s 2014 Commencement on May 16.

For the fifth time in Pratt’s history, the event was held at Radio City Music Hall, with 1,337 students, both graduates and undergraduates, crossing the stage and becoming alumni.

Kimmelman, who also received an honorary Doctor of Letters during Commencement, advocated that students creatively consider ways to improve the world around them. As an example, he talked about his role in pushing New York City to reimagine Penn Station—"the saddest railroad station in the world"—by relocating Madison Square Garden, the arena that sits above it. After pressure from Kimmelman and others,  the City Council voted to limit Madison Square Garden’s lease, paving the way for change in the future.

“The future is not fixed. You will make it,” Kimmelman said. “This is your opportunity and today is your call to arms.”

Prior to Kimmelman’s speech, three honorary degrees were awarded: Brooklyn Museum Director Arnold L. Lehman (Doctor of Humane Letters), Artist Yoko Ono (Doctor of Fine Arts), and Designer Karim Rashid (Doctor of Fine Arts).

Graduation speakers also included Creative Writing Associate Professor Ellery Washington, who was named the Distinguished Teacher (2014-2015), and Michelle Betters (B.F.A. Writing ’14), the elected student speaker, who reminded graduates that they have left an indelible mark on Pratt—and vice versa.

“No matter where you go today, you are taking this Pratt experience with you. Share what you’ve created, share what others have created and then create something new in a different place,” Betters said.

Text: Ruth Samuelson


Pratt Fashion Show 2014 Wows Crowd and Generates Widespread Media Coverage

On May 1, Pratt’s senior fashion students presented their final thesis collections to a sold-out crowd at the 2014 Pratt Fashion Show held at Center548. The show received coverage and accolades in media outlets including Women's Wear DailyThe Huffington Post, nymag.comInStyle, Style.com, and Fashion Avenue News Magazine.

Celebrated designers Stephen Burrows and Byron Lars were honored for their contributions to fashion. Burrows received the 2014 Pratt Fashion Award for Lifetime Achievement from legendary supermodel Pat Cleveland, and Lars received the 2014 Pratt Fashion Visionary Award from acclaimed actress and producer Angela Bassett.

At the conclusion of the runway show, graduating senior Julia Wollner was presented with the “Liz Claiborne Award – Concept to Product.” Presented by Department of Fashion Chair Jennifer Minniti, this $25,000 award, funded by the Liz Claiborne & Art Ortenberg Foundation, will support Wollner’s creative entrepreneurial activities and help cover the costs of developing a collection post graduation. Wollner was one of 21 graduating students who were chosen by a panel of industry experts to design, produce, and present cohesive and progressive collections for the show.

The 2014 Pratt Institute Fashion Show + Cocktail Benefit raised over $225,000. The proceeds will benefit Pratt scholarship funds and the Institute’s Department of Fashion.

Cotton Incorporated was the lead sponsor for the Pratt Fashion Show + Cocktail Benefit. Funding was awarded in part through a competitive grant presented to Pratt Institute by the Importer Support Program of the Cotton Board and managed by Cotton Incorporated. Santander Universities, a division of Santander Bank, was the platinum sponsor for the Pratt Fashion Show + Cocktail Benefit. Santander Universities is a philanthropic arm of Santander that is focused on advancing the needs of society as a whole through higher education. In the United States, Santander supports 33 higher education institutions and in 2013 gave over $10 million to fund scholarships, global exchange opportunities, research projects, and entrepreneurship studies.

The show featured live tweeting and was streamed live on the homepage of pratt.edu. If you missed the show—or would like to see an encore—watch the full video here.

Image: Joshua Wong Photography


Artist and Educator Gerry Snyder Named School of Art Dean

Gerry SnyderPratt Institute named Gerry Snyder, currently chief academic officer and vice president for academic affairs at Santa Fe University of Art and Design, as dean of the School of Art. Snyder will begin his position at Pratt on July 28, 2014.

Snyder has held administrative and teaching positions at New York University (1987-1996), Pacific Northwest College of Art (1996-2000), College of Santa Fe (2000-2009), and Santa Fe University of Art and Design (2009-present), where he oversees nine departments and developed a number of significant partnerships with external groups including Robert Redford’s Milagro Initiative, the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, and the American Academy in Rome, among others.

 “We are pleased to announce Gerry Snyder in his new position leading the School of Art and are confident that Gerry Snyder’s significant experience in the art and academic worlds will be enriching to our students and faculty,” said Pratt Institute Provost Peter Barna. “Beyond his commitment to educating the next generation of artists, Snyder is a practicing artist who demonstrates a passion for creating a unique and interdisciplinary educational culture that will help our students extend the boundaries of their creativity.”

Snyder received a B.F.A. in Painting from the University of Oregon and an M.A. in Video Art from New York University. He has a steady exhibition record of both solo shows and group shows such as the 2002 Whitney Biennial and the 2004 Serbian Biennial. His work has been featured in museum collections such as the Whitney Museum of American Art and the de Young Museum of San Francisco as well as in numerous private collections.

“I have always admired Pratt and its long history as a leader in the arts,” said Snyder. “I am thrilled to be joining this dynamic community of exceptional faculty and students. Brooklyn has become a world destination for art and culture, and I look forward to supporting Pratt’s mission there.”


Santiago Piedrafita Named Chair of Graduate Communications Design Department

Santiago PiedrafitaSantiago Piedrafita, a designer, scholar, and educator, has been named chair of the Graduate Communications Design Department. Piedrafita, who received a M.S. in Communications Design from Pratt in 1994, is currently an associate professor and former chair of the Department of Graphic Design and Industrial Design at the College of Design, North Carolina State University. Previously, Piedrafita chaired the Design Department at MCAD, Minneapolis College of Art and Design.

“I am a proud Pratt alumnus,” says Piedrafita, “I have been repeatedly impressed with how the institution and department have continued to grow and evolve—in footprint, definition, and vision. I am very excited to return to Pratt in what is once again a wonderfully transformative time for the Institute and department alike.”

Piedrafita’s pedagogical philosophy aims to prepare graduates for a world of accelerating technological change, growing participation from audiences and users in the design process, and a high demand for designers with interdisciplinary skills and knowledge. As a designer, Piedrafita worked for renowned studios such as J. Abbott Miller’s Design/Writing/Research (then transitioning to join Pentagram) and Chermayeff & Geismar Inc. (now Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv), as well as in the design departments of prestigious cultural institutions, such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York (MoMA) and the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. From 2002 to 2012, he and collaborator Deborah Littlejohn ran the studio TWO, which created identity and editorial design projects for design, architecture, and art-related cultural institutions.

“Santiago Piedrafita’s 20 plus years of diverse professional and academic experience will benefit Pratt students and faculty immensely,” says Jeff Bellantoni, current chair of the Graduate Communications Design Department, who will be leaving Pratt Institute this summer. “His vision for the future of design education aligns with the innovative changes the department has made these past several years. He is a perfect fit for the department.”

Piedrafita received his B.I.D. from ESDI/UERJ Universidade Estadual do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He was born in Uruguay, raised in Brazil, and is a citizen of the United States, where he has studied and worked for the past 23 years. He is trilingual, proficient in Spanish, Portuguese, and English.


Jorge Oliver Selected as Chair of Film/Video Department

Jorge OliverJorge Oliver, an independent filmmaker, actor, and professor, has been named chair of the Film/Video Department.

Oliver is currently an associate professor and former chair of the Department of Electronic and Photographic Media at Webster University in Missouri. Oliver will oversee the department as it opens its new headquarters in 550 Myrtle Avenue. The department’s home base will include greatly updated facilities including two sound stages, a sound-mixing facility, and a screening room with 100 seats.

“I am very excited to join Pratt at such a pivotal time in its history,” says Oliver. “I look forward to working together with the faculty and staff of the Film/Video department as we move into our state of the art facility on Myrtle Avenue. The move will help the department get the visibility and recognition it deserves.”

As a professor, he has instructed his students in film production, film scholarship, photography, screenwriting, and acting for camera.

“The Film/Video Department looks forward to working with Jorge Oliver, whose expertise, history of leadership, and embrace of diverse perspectives, will contribute greatly to our expanding program,” says Jacki Ochs, acting chair of the Film/Video Department.

Oliver’s work as a filmmaker includes the 2013 feature length documentary Free to Love (Libres Para Amar), which spotlights a grassroots initiative to prevent the addition of a discriminatory amendment to the Puerto Rican constitution.

Oliver has also produced and directed the short documentaries Pride in Puerto Rico (1999), about the Eighth Gay, Lesbian, Transsexual, and Transgender pride parade in Puerto Rico, and Diaspora (1997), about the migration of Puerto Rican actors to the United States. He also has extensive experience acting in film and theater and served as a member of the Board of Directors of the University Film and Video Association, an international organization of filmmakers, scholars, and educators.

Oliver holds an M.A. in Media Studies from The New School and an M.F.A. in Cinema from San Francisco State University.