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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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Thursday
May262011

New Chair Appointed for Department of Fashion Design

Jennifer Minniti, a professor who also has served as an associate chair and associate dean at the California College of the Arts, where she has been teaching since 1997, has been appointed as the new chair of Pratt’s Department of Fashion Design. Her appointment is effective August 1.

“Professor Minniti has an impressive history as a designer, curator, scholar, and academic administrator,” said Dean Concetta M. Stewart of the School of Art and Design. “I am pleased that she will be bringing this wealth of experience to Pratt.”

Minniti’s other recent teaching appointments have included visiting professorships in Fashion at CEDIM University in Monterrey, Mexico, and at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. A practicing designer, educator, and consultant, she has taught graduate and undergraduate classes in fashion history as well as in contemporary fashion theory and design. She also has experience in all aspects of building academic fashion design programs, from curriculum review and development to faculty appointments.

Minniti’s industry experience includes working for Donna Karan in Manhattan, and she recently helped launch a sustainable collection, Clothespin by Gale Parker. Her curatorial work includes appointments as a research consultant in ethnographic textiles and modern fashion at the DeYoung Museum and as a curatorial consultant to the Wattis Institute, both in San Francisco, California. She received a master’s degree in costume studies from New York University and a bachelor’s degree in fashion design from Philadelphia University.

Photo: Courtesy of Jennifer Minniti

Wednesday
May252011

Film/Video and Photography Department to Become Separate Departments

The Department of Film/Video and Photography will stand as two distinct departments beginning July 1. The decision to create two separate departments was driven by the increasing complexity of both disciplines and their potential for growth, says Concetta M. Stewart, dean of the School of Art and Design.

“The grammars, sensibilities, and intellectual direction of all that was once known as 'Media Arts' here at Pratt and in recent years as the 'Department of Film/Video and Photography' are different and worthy of individual exploration,” says Stewart.  

Stewart adds that the restructuring within the School of Art and Design recognizes that disciplines can no longer be tied to each other simply because of technical similarities, even while programs build upon their historic roots. Stewart calls the change exciting, because the photography department will be able to develop programmatic nuances among documentary photography, photojournalism, and commercial photography while continuing to explore the theoretical frames that would, for instance, insert one photo-work into a gallery as a projection or print, and place another on a website as breaking news. Similar expansion and articulation will be possible in Film/Video, as students explore a range of professional and experimental genres.

“This meets the demands of both students and potential students,” says Stewart. “They will be able to specialize within photography or film/video, while building a myriad of meaningful connections to both well trodden and emerging subject paths. That, combined with the countless opportunities in New York City, made this division a logical step.”

Stewart also says that having separate departments will allow students to collaborate more closely with other departments of their choice.

“Students interested in fashion and editorial photography can work with the Department of Fashion Design; students who are interested in film as text and theory can work closely with the Department of Humanities and Media Studies in our School of Liberal Arts and Sciences; and students interested in making photographs that move can rely on the strong interdepartmental connections between the Film/Video and Photography departments,” says Stewart. “There is incredible potential for cross-disciplinary work.”

The School of Art and Design is reviewing the feasibility of creating a graduate film program, which would call for the Department of Film/Video to be its own department. 

The Department of Film/Video will be chaired by Leighton Pierce, who comes to us this July from his recent post as chair of the Department of Cinema and Comparative Literature at the University of Iowa. Professor Sarah Van Ouwerkerk, a faculty member in the current Department of Film/Video and Photography will serve as the interim chair of the Department of Photography until a search for a permanent chair is completed.

Sunday
May222011

For Third Year in a Row, Pratt is Strong Presence at Premiere Design Show

 Left: Lead faculty advisor Mark Goetz (B.I.D. ’86) explaining the students’ “Perpetual Motion” designs to Giulio Cappellini, owner of Italian design firm Cappellini; Right: George Nakashima Woodworker, S.A. booth at ICFF, designed by exhibition design students under the direction of Interior Design Professor Jon Otis.  Clockwise from Left: Chair with Belly Button by Wang I Chao (M.I.D.’12), DMC-12 by Edward Hale (M.I.D. '12), Timbre Chairs by Jesse Trentadue (M.I.D. ’12), Bundle Stool by Elizabeth Joy Wong (B.I.D. ’11), REFLEXION Chair by Arnold Chu (M.I.D. ’12), HK-STOOL by Chun Chun (M.I.D. ’12), The Modularity by Kyung ho Chang (B.I.D. ’11), Folded Felt Table by Li-Rong Liao (M.I.D. ’11), and Chipboard Stools by Dana Oxiles (M.I.D. ’11).

Pratt’s Department of Industrial Design, in collaboration with Italian furniture firm Cappellini, recently presented an exhibition of furniture designs at the 23rd annual International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF), which was held at New York City's Jacob K. Javits Convention Center from May 14–17. For the third year in a row, Pratt was selected to exhibit at ICFF—North America’s singular showcase for contemporary design—and was awarded one of six 200-square-foot school booth spaces by GLM, the producer and manager of the fair.

Works by Pratt students and recent alumni were also featured at the George Nakashima Woodworker, S.A. and Danish Institute for Study Abroad (DIS) booths at ICFF. Exhibition design students under the direction of Interior Design Professor Jon Otis designed the booth for esteemed furniture maker George Nakashima Woodworker, S.A., while the DIS booth featured chair designs by four students from Pratt's architecture and design programs who previously participated in the DIS study abroad program.

Pratt affiliates also exhibited work in conjunction with ICFF. Architecture Professsor Haresh Lalvani  and industrial design alumnus Chen Chen (B.I.D. ’07) are exhibiting works as part of "Fraternal Twins" at Moss Gallery through June 30. Model Citizens NYC 2011, organized by Industrial Design alumni Mika Braakman, Tiffany Burnett, and Kristina Drury, exhibited at the Chelsea Art Museum from May 13–15. This third-annual design event  included an exhibition and pop-up shop of work in a variety of art and design disciplines by over 90 independent and emerging designers, including many current Pratt students and alumni.  

Pratt's Department of Industrial Design was chosen to exhibit at this year’s ICFF for its theme, “Perpetual Motion,” which was conceived by lead faculty advisor Mark Goetz (B.I.D. ’86) to challenge his graduate students and Adjunct Assistant Professor Tim Richartz’s undergraduate industrial design students to create modern and innovative furniture design prototypes that remain rooted in boldly disruptive ideas, while keeping the dynamism of design moving into the future. The most successful designs by nine Pratt students were displayed at the fair and were selected by a team of esteemed designers and industry professionals invited by Cappellini marketing representative Frederick McSwain, who provided guidance to the students throughout the creative process.

“The premise of ‘Perpetual Motion’ is to look at the future of furniture design by coming up with fresh, new ideas that incorporate technology and sustainability and that potentially envision updates to classic designs for the future,” said Goetz. “We were thrilled that Cappellini, a company well-known for nurturing young designers, helped to guide and advise us in this endeavor,” he added.

Participating industrial design students included Kyung ho Chang (B.I.D. ’11), Wang I Chao (M.I.D. ’12), Arnold Chu (M.I.D. ’12), Chun Chun (M.I.D. ’12), Edward Hale (M.I.D. ’12), Li-Rong Liao (M.I.D. ’11), Dana Oxiles (M.I.D. ’11), Jesse Trentadue (M.I.D. ’12), and Elizabeth Joy Wong (B.I.D. ’11).

Photos: Amy Aronoff, Armando Rafael (B.F.A. '00), Wang I Chao (M.I.D. ’12) (Folded Felt Table)

Saturday
May212011

In SLAS Course Students Use Art and Design to Explore Human Rights

Rachel Pumroy (Communications Design ’12), She Did It For Love, 2011, digital artAs part of the Pratt’s continuing effort to educate the whole person, the Institute offered for the first time in spring semester 2011 an undergraduate elective course on human rights that may be taken to fulfill social science requirements of the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences.  The course was taught by Adjunct Associate Professor Nina McCune, who has been on the Social Science and Cultural Studies faculty for the past six years. “The study of human rights,” McCune explains, “combines the studies of law, history, philosophy, ethics, international relations, education, business, and corporate practices, in addition to environmental, health, and sustainability studies.”

Twelve students were enrolled in the course, representing a cross-section of different majors ranging from writing to the design disciplines to digital arts. The three-credit course met once a week for three intensive hours of discussion in North Hall, and required readings ran from three-to-five 30-page articles a week. In addition, the class invited Nobel Prize nominee Michael Haas, whose textbook, Introduction to Human Rights (Routledge, 2007), was used in the course. Students also heard from a Rwandan genocide survivor and from Human Rights Watch’s Director of Global Initiatives, Minky Wordon.

McCune, who is herself writing a textbook for post-secondary human rights education, hopes to offer the course again in spring 2012. Meanwhile she marvels at her students’  “intelligence, commitment, and compassion” and expresses amazement at the course’s outcomes: “Students’ work goes well beyond naïve understandings of the world’s injustices and grapples quite brilliantly with the complex interplay of the United Nations’ charge of monitoring, promoting, and protecting human rights universally.”

As an example, McCune cites the work of Rachel Pumroy (Communications Design ’12), who came up with a public service announcement to make people aware of the sex trafficking of women and young girls. By not being culturally specific, McCune asserts, Pumroy’s straightforward imagery transcends cultural relativism to evoke a strong reaction among viewers, opening their eyes to this form of human exploitation.

Other student projects ranged from an analysis of potential state complicity in the disappearance of architect Ai Weiwei (in China), and a card game intended to demonstrate the complexity of international decision-making on human rights issues.

Photo: Courtesy of the artist

Friday
May202011

New Myrtle Hall Honored by Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce

Myrtle Hall was named winner of a 2011 Building Brooklyn Award, conferred by the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce. Myrtle Hall won in the “Education” category and is one of 13 Brooklyn buildings to be recognized this year.

Each year, the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce recognizes recently completed new and renovation construction projects that enrich Brooklyn’s neighborhoods and economy. Designed by New York City architectural firm WASA/Studio A, Pratt’s Myrtle Hall, located at 536 Myrtle Avenue, is expected to receive LEED Gold certification for its eco-friendly features that include exterior sun shades; a green roof that absorbs rainwater, reflects heat, and sequesters greenhouse gasses; and solar photovoltaic panels that generate on-site electricity.

The Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce and its Real Estate and Development Committee will present the awards at a celebration on July 14 from 6–9 PM at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

View the video below to learn more about Pratt's latest addition to campus, Myrtle Hall.

Direction/production: Gingersnap Media, LLC

Re-editing/additional video: Jonathan Weitz