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.


Alumni Day and The Alumni Art & Design Fair

This year’s Alumni Day was a record success with more than 600 alumni coming back to campus to reconnect with classmates on September 28. The daylong event included Pratt’s second annual Alumni Art & Design Fair, gallery exhibitions, an academic fair, campus tours, and an evening cocktail celebration. There were also special events for engineering and international alumni as well as those celebrating their 10th, 25th, 35th, 40th, and 50th+ reunions. 

Another highlight of the day was the Engineering Quadrangle dedication ceremony honoring Pratt alumnus and Trustee Emeritus Bruce M. Newman (B.F.A. Interior Design ’53). This past summer, the Engineering Quadrangle was completely re-landscaped, allowing for easier movement between the buildings. The project, a collaborative effort between the Office of Facilities Management and recent architectural graduates of Pratt and CUNY, was made possible through Newman’s generosity.

The new design reinforces the cohesiveness of the campus, bringing to campus improved seating areas with wooden benches, enhanced walkways, additional lighting for increased safety, and improved irrigation for greater environmental sustainability. In addition, new bicycle racks and pavers have been installed adjacent to the west wall of the Chemistry Building.

In Memorial Hall, Pratt professor Tracie Morris hosted a Creative Conversation with accomplished Motown singer-songwriter Valerie Simpson, who co-wrote such hits as "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" and "You're All I Need to Get By” as part of the duo of Ashford & Simpson. In front of an enthusiastic audience, Simpson regaled alumni with renditions of “Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing” and “The Boss.”

At an academic fair held in the Student Union, students and faculty were on hand to discuss their departments' programs and projects. Additionally, Pratt faculty gave presentations on a broad range of topics, including Pratt's new proposed Urban Placemaking and Management degree and new approaches to art and design education.

The day ended with alumni socializing on the lawn for an outdoor Alumni Day concert. Madame Pat Tandy and her trio performed jazz, standards, and blues as Cannoneers sang along and danced before heading off to an alumni reception and class parties in nearby pubs.

Text: Bay Brown
Photos: Alex Weber and Kevin Wick


Architect and Trustee Robert H. Siegel Shares Career Challenges and Accomplishments

Guggenheim ExtensionRenowned architect Robert H. Siegel, FAIA, discussed key projects, experiences, and challenges during the five decades he spent at his award-winning firm, Gwathmey Siegel Kaufman & Associates Architects. The talk was part of the Arnold Syrop (B. Arch. ’61) and Joanne Syrop Annual Lecture Series endowed by the Selz Foundation. The series features outstanding individuals in architecture.

Siegel discussed commissions that spanned his career including the exhibition conference center for Walt Disney World and residences for celebrities like Jerry Seinfeld, Steven Spielberg, Faye Dunaway, and Dell Inc. CEO Michael Dell, for whom Siegel designed a 33,000-square-foot complex in Austin, TX.

At the beginning of the talk, Siegel said the event signified that his career had come “full circle”: while studying at Pratt in the 1950s, he had developed a passion for architecture and he was happy to share his enthusiasm with budding young architects on campus today. 

“Be passionate, compulsive, driven,” he told the crowd. “Create design solutions that transcend mere accommodation. The art of architecture is what is fulfilling. I promise you’ll love it.”

Text: Bay Brown
Photo: Jeff Goldberg/Esto


Black Alumni of Pratt Celebrate Creative Spirit At Gala

The Black Alumni of Pratt (BAP) 2013 Creative Spirit Awardees at Jazz at Lincoln Center. L-R: Anita Durst, Audrey Smaltz, Michele Oka Doner, Andrea L. TaylorOn September 12, the Black Alumni of Pratt (BAP) recognized four remarkable women for their accomplishments in the areas of fine art, the performing arts, fashion, community development, and technology at its 23rd annual scholarship benefit gala, Celebration of the Creative Spirit. Lori Stokes, co-anchor of WABC-TV’s Eyewitness News, hosted the glamorous gala, which was held in The Allen Room at Jazz at Lincoln Center.

Renowned artist and former Pratt Trustee Michele Oka Doner was recognized with the Lifetime Achievement Award. Creative Spirit Awards were given to Anita Durst, founder and artistic director of Chashama, an organization that connects artists with vacant real estate; Audrey Smaltz, founder and CEO of Ground Crew, a fashion show and event production company; and Andrea L. Taylor, director of citizenship and public affairs for North America, Microsoft Corporation.

L-R: BAP Co-Presidents Darius Somers and Gerri Brown with Pratt President Thomas F. Schutte at the reception at BAP’s 23rd Annual  “Celebration of the Creative Spirit” Benefit GalaThe Hon. David N. Dinkins and Joyce Dinkins were Honorary Patrons of the benefit gala. Edward Enninful, fashion and style director, W Magazine; artist Jeff Koons; and interior designer Stephen Sills were Honorary Co-Chairs. Gail A. Marquis, former professional basketball player; June Kelly, gallerist and Pratt Trustee; and Charles Storer, senior director, Robert Marston Corporate Communications, were Dinner Co-Chairs. Artist Derrick Adams (B.F.A. Art and Design Education ’96) was the Alumni Dinner Chair.

BAP is led by co-presidents Gerri Brown (B.F.A. Merchandising and Fashion Management ’76) and Darius Somers (B. Arch ’08).

Text: Amy Aronoff
Photo: Julie Skarratt Photography Inc.


Phatt-B: A Celebration of Digital Arts in Brooklyn

Jeremy Bailey, Important Portrait of the Artist's WifeNearly 300 students, artists, educators, and community members attended the Digital Arts Department’s inaugural PHATT-B (Pratt Hosts Art of Technology Terminal) — A Celebration of Digital Arts in Brooklyn event, which was held on September 21 in Myrtle Hall. PHATT-B included a series of free panel discussions with artists, curators, and writers working in new media and digital arts; workshops on art and technology; and an exhibition of work from eight Brooklyn digital art galleries.

PHATT-B helped put the department on the map as being a central hub of digital arts in Brooklyn,” said Carla Gannis, PHATT-B co-organizer and assistant chair, Digital Arts. “The event provided a lively forum for discussion about digital arts and new media as art forms that invite collaboration and innovation.”

Eva and Franco Mattes (a.k.a. 0100101110101101.ORG), two pioneers in the net.art movement, delivered a keynote address on their unpredictable and controversial digital art. Participating galleries included 247365, Cartune Xprez, Devotion Gallery, Interstate Projects, Present Company, Momenta Art, Transfer Art, and Nurture Art. The event was sponsored by Art F City.

To see Gannis talk about the Department of Digital Arts and her own work, watch this month's Faculty Focus video.

Text: Amy Aronoff
Images: Courtesy of the artist


Museum of Art and Design Show Features Pratt Jewelers

Jenna Pierson and Samantha Nania (both B.F.A. Jewelry '13)Two recent graduates from Pratt Institute’s acclaimed studio jewelry program in the undergraduate Fine Arts department sold their wares alongside celebrated jewelry designers from around the world at LOOT: MAD About Jewelry 2013 held at the Museum of Art and Design.

The annual juried exhibition and sale, which ran from October 2–5, showcases one-of-a-kind, artist-made jewelry and offers the public the rare opportunity to acquire pieces directly from some of the most innovative jewelry artists working today. LOOT featured the creations of 50 emerging and acclaimed jewelry artists, including Pratt alumnae Samantha Nania and Jenna Pierson (both B.F.A. Jewelry ’13). This is the second year Pratt students have participated.

It was an educational experience for both. "Sam and I had a lot of fun and also learned a lot. One major thing was don’t make pieces to just fit me! I ended up losing sales,” recalled Pierson. “Above all I got my name out there, and my website has been getting a significant amount more traffic.” After the show, Pierson returned to Amsterdam where she is working in the studio of celebrated jewelry artist Gésine Hackenberg.

“It was an excellent event to network not only the visitors of the museum, but also the other jewelers and curators and other people involved at the Museum of Art and Design. They were all interested in our work and gave us suggestions for what to do at shows in the future,” said Nania. “It really helped me understand what a sellable price point is and what a sellable design is.”

“I think for Jenna and I this was a once in a lifetime opportunity,” she added. “I think this is something we could have never dreamed of right after graduation.”

To see Nania tell Gateway about her inspiration and time at Pratt, watch Jewelry Student Takes Her Cue From Ballet.

Nania and Pierson were in good company. The 2013 LOOT Award for Contemporary Art Jewelry went to renowned interior designer and jewelry artist, Iris Apfel, and Barbara Berger, a prolific collector of fashion jewelry.

Text: Amy Aronoff; Bay Brown
Photo: Christine Leitner


Nominations Invited for 2014 Alumni Achievement Award Recipients

Pratt is accepting nominations for the Alumni Achievement Awards (AAA). The AAAs recognize outstanding graduates who have distinguished themselves in their fields; have earned a high degree of respect among their colleagues and in the general community; and whose impact has been felt on a regional, national, and/or international level.

Awards will be presented in the following categories: 

Career Achievement Award

International Career Achievement Award

Early Career Award

Distinguished Service Award

Community Commitment Award

More information about the AAAs and the nomination form may be found here. Nominations will be accepted through 11:59 PM Eastern Standard Time on Friday, November 22.

Text: Megan McCurry