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Gateway is the community newsletter of Pratt Institute. It is published monthly by the Office of Communications, in the Division of Institutional Advancement. For a list of contributors, click here.

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Tuesday
Apr122011

Filmmaker Steven Soderbergh Delivers President’s Lecture

Steven SoderberghAcademy-award winning director and producer Steven Soderbergh offered a range of advice to aspiring Pratt filmmakers at the 19th annual President’s Lecture Series last month, then took more than a dozen questions from students eager to know the secret to Soderbergh’s decades’-long success.

From the stage at Memorial Hall, Soderbergh urged an audience of more than 200 students to assess situations and make quick decisions; to watch every movie possible; to remain observers of human nature; and to be willing to go anywhere to shoot a scene.

Soderbergh, who received an honorary degree at Pratt’s 2010 commencement, told students that the ability to absorb information and make quick yet effective decisions can make or break a director.

“Art to me is really about problem solving. The word I would use is ‘filtering.’ What you’re trying to do is imagine and anticipate all the parallel possible versions of what you're doing… And how you filter and how quickly you filter …  it's going to be probably the difference between you accomplishing what you want to accomplish or not.”

He also told students he believes a key to his success is his ability to be “the man on the bus,” which he has achieved by limiting media access to him so he remains relatively anonymous.

“There are certain filmmakers [who] I can see in their work the result of never, for the last several decades, having been anywhere where everyone in the room doesn’t know who they are. It really does have an effect. You see it in the performances, because all they have to compare it to is being in rooms where they’re kings.”

Soderbergh ran through a list of tips—some specific to filmmaking, such as “you should know the difference between a scene and a sequence,” and some more universal such as “write everything down. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you’ll remember that excellent idea later.” He also handed around a list of films, books, and plays he had read and watched over the last month, an eclectic blend that included, among many other things, contemporary short stories and Alfred Hitchcock movies.

He then said all his tips and advice boiled down to one question: "What is art for exactly? I guess the answer is that I know that in the moment in experiencing a piece of art you’re not alone. You’re being addressed by another human being, you’re connected to another human being, often in a way that transcends description, especially a linguistic description. And I guess because I believe that, I want in that moment for that person to feel like I gave it everything that I had. I feel like I owe them that, I feel like we owe each other that.”

Soderbergh then took questions from the audience, sitting on the edge of the stage to field questions on everything from the latest filmmaking technology to what he might do if he retires from filmmaking.

He said he had been answering this question recently, saying “I’m not improving in the ways that I think will result in me making something as extraordinary as I think things ought to be or as extraordinary as things that I’ve seen. I have run out of things to try. What I want is to find something else to do that makes me 17 years old again. That I then have, if necessary, multiple decades of work to do to get good at that. That is more exciting to me than trying to grind down the last little corner of what I can figure out over the next 20 years and make stuff that I feel like I’ve made before.”

Photo: René Perez

Monday
Apr112011

TOAST AND TOUR CELEBRATES MYRTLE HALL

President Thomas F. Schutte addresses guests in the Myrtle Hall Admissions Gallery. Members of Pratt’s Board of Trustees and Pratt Leadership Societies celebrated the opening of Myrtle Hall, Pratt’s new 120,000-square foot green building, on March 30 by convening for a private tour given by the building’s design architect, Jack Esterson (B. Arch. ’75). Among the 50 attendees were Board Chair Mike Pratt, and Trustees Bruce Gitlin, David Marquis, and Marc Rosen (M.F.A. ’70).

L-R: Victor Carnuccio (B.F.A. Art and Design ’79), Vice President of Institutional Advancement Todd Galitz, and Trustee Marc Rosen (M.F.A. ’70)  These loyal supporters of the Institute also enjoyed a talk by Digital Arts Chair Peter Patchen in the new Digital Arts Gallery. The tour highlighted Myrtle Hall’s environmentally sustainable design, introduced the new Admissions Gallery, and showed Pratt alumni, faculty, staff, and student work on display throughout the building.

A swipe of the Pratt ID card at the Security Desk on the first floor enables members of the Pratt community to gain an insider’s view of Myrtle Hall, and all are welcome. 

Photos: Kevin Wick

Sunday
Apr102011

PRATT DINING SPACE Voted Best In Show at Annual AIDS RESEARCH Fundraiser

Marion Curtis/Star Pix (Dining environment), Courtesy of Anthony CaradonnaPratt Institute’s installation was one of two dining environments—among 46 on display by the nation’s top designers—to be voted “Best of Show” by the American Society of Interior Designers at the Design Industries Fighting AIDS’ (DIFFA) DINING BY DESIGN gala dinner last month. The event was held in Manhattan in conjunction with the Architectural Digest Home Show, an annual design trade show. 

The Pratt students' low cost, one-of-a kind dining space featuring cardboard cut-outs and other recycled materials was the work of Professor Anthony Caradonna’s (B. Arch. ’86) annual fall semester sustainable design studio open to undergraduate architecture students.

Caradonna says his team was inspired by DIFFA’s mission to design a dining space that would express the love for life that binds the human family. Based on the concept of weaving a nest, the Pratt dining environment braids together the reclaimed, neglected, discarded everyday materials at hand—cardboard boxes, paper tubes, plastic, plywood, rope, and reclaimed metal chair frames—into a textile of woven geometries that creates a protective shelter.

The design was accomplished with the help of mentor Alfredo Paredes of Ralph Lauren.

Thursday
Apr072011

CHARLES PRATT MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP GIVEN FOR SUSTAINABLE DESIGN WORK

Four Others Also Receive Prestigious Pratt Family Awards

 

Scholarship winner with members of the Pratt family. L-R: Harvey Eisen; Madeline Peer Twining; Edmund S. Twining, IV; Catharine Pratt Cavanagh Maslow; scholarship winner William Bausback; Diana Twining; Taylor Pratt Twining; and Ned Twining

The final round of the selection process for the Charles Pratt II Memorial Scholarship took place on March 28 in the fifth floor conference room in Myrtle Hall.

William Bausback, a junior from Randolph, N.J., emerged as the winner after five finalists made presentations to a distinguished selection committee made up of members of the Pratt family, as well as President Thomas F. Schutte, Department of Industrial Design Chair Steve Diskin, and Industrial Design Professor Katrin Mueller-Ross.

Bausback’s work focuses on sustainability and is inspired by natural forms. He was awarded a $25,000 scholarship.

Hailey D. O’Conner from Londonderry, N.H. was awarded a $5,000 scholarship. The remaining three finalists (Mike Chen from Manchester, N.H.; Tianxu “Tim” Guo from Sugar Land, Texas; and Carmen Wong from Queens, N.Y.) were awarded $1,000 each.

The $25,000 award is given annually to a junior-year Pratt student who best demonstrates the ideals of the founder of Pratt Institute, which are described as leadership, community service, and self-motivation. The award also recognizes demonstrated artistic achievement at the college level. 

The scholarship was established in 2004 by former Pratt Trustee Edmund S. (Ned) and Diana Twining in honor of Ned’s grandfather, Charles Pratt II, who was the grandson of the Institute’s founder and the fourth president of Pratt Institute (1937–1953).

The scholarship rotates among departments; this year the Industrial Design department was designated to hold the competition. From its 63 juniors, 24 were nominated to submit portfolios, and five received awards.

Photo: Douglas Marks 

Wednesday
Apr062011

DRAWING CLUB GIVES STUDENTS OPPORTUNITY TO EXPLORE AND EXHIBIT

Rin Lack, Tights, 2011, 32" x 10", oil on Masonite.Among the many clubs at Pratt, one new organization is quickly gaining popularity.  Founded this semester, the drawing club has met only a handful of times and already attracted more than 30 members, hosted its first fundraiser, and held an exhibition at a professional gallery.

The club was organized by Nanette Carter, adjunct associate professor in the Fine Arts department, who believes Pratt students need an outlet for creating work that does not follow the constraints of their assignments, as well as an environment where students of all disciplines can hone their drawing skills.  Members test various drawing materials and mediums, and use meeting time both to create and to discuss their work.

Carter says part of the club’s mission is to encourage students to think of drawing as an end in itself.

“The idea is to promote drawing and have a way to produce images that are finished and ready to be seen, as opposed to drawings for preparations for sculpture, paintings, designs, and fashion,” says Carter.

The group meets at 12:30 PM on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at the Fishbowl Gallery in the basement of Main Building.  Because of hectic schedules, meetings do not occur regularly and are planned and posted on the club’s Facebook page.

Members hope that the club will attract students from all disciplines. Drohan DiSanto (Critical and Visual Studies ’13) discovered the Drawing Club through students he met during his foundation year pursuing advertising and art direction  His interests directed him to one of Pratt’s liberal arts programs, but he uses the club as an outlet for his visual work.

Pratt students and visitors at the Drawing Club exhibition at FiveMyles gallery in Crown Heights, Brooklyn“I like that they’re starting off on a mixed-media footing,” says DiSanto.  “It’s less mundane and it draws more people into the club.”

The Drawing Club’s first exhibition opened on March 11 and ran for one week at FiveMyles, a not-for-profit gallery in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.  The event was partially coordinated by club president Angela Kang, who works at the gallery.  Pieces were chosen through a competition juried by the club’s officers.  The exhibition featured work by 27 students, among them painters, sculptors, and animation students. 

“Drawing is so universal,” says Kang, “no matter what you do you’re going to start with a drawing.  Your brainstorm is your sketch.”

The club is planning some ambitious events for the future.  Members threw a yard sale at last month’s Spring Fest to raise funds for a field trip to visit museums in Philadelphia.  The club also plans to invite professional artists from outside the Pratt community to come and critique members’ work. 

Those interested in attending the next meeting can visit the drawing club’s Facebook page for more information. 

— Benjamin Korman

Photo: Carol Hu