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.



André De Castro (M.F.A. Graphic Design, ’13), Stephen Mondics (B.F.A. Film/Video '13), and Mike Finkelstein (B.F.A. Photography, Class of '14)

An ongoing collaboration between Pratt Institute and Hennessy V.S, the world’s top cognac brand, allowed one current student and two recent graduates to prominently display their fine art, photography, and film work in the Epic Hotel lobby during Art Basel Miami Beach, the renowned international art fair that attracts 50,000 visitors from around the world in December each year. The main event includes a mix of work worth $3 billion by masters and emerging artists and has grown over the last 11 years to include dozens of satellite fairs, design presentations, museum exhibitions, and private shows in the Miami area.

The Pratt work on display during the fair included winners from a competition, organized by Pratt’s Office of Corporate Relations and led by Graduate Communications Design Chair Jeff Bellantoni, that challenged nine art and design students from several departments to explore the theme of Hennessy’s recent campaign: “Never stop. Never settle.”

“Partnering with a global brand enriches the educational experiences of students by offering new opportunities to extend their creativity and influence beyond the classroom and studio,” said Ludovic Leroy, Director of Corporate Relations at Pratt. “The Pratt presentation at Art Basel Miami Beach allowed these students to have a presence at the country’s most prestigious art fair early in their careers and we are proud that their work represented the Institute at this international showcase attended by the most influential forces in the art world.”

The exhibition at the Epic Hotel featured work by the three winners: André De Castro, (M.F.A. Graphic Design, ’13), who won first place, as well as Mike Finkelstein (B.F.A. Photography ’14) and Stephen Mondics  (B.F.A. Film/Video ’13).

Thousands of people visited the “Never stop. Never settle.” show, which was on display December 2-8. A cocktail reception on December 5 at the Epic Hotel in Miami included Pratt alumni, press, and other guests who had the chance to hear short presentations by each of the artists about their individual work. It was followed by an event at The Pulse Art Fair where the Pratt artists met acclaimed hip-hop artist Nas and attended an evening performance by him sponsored by Hennessy V.S. 

Two potential buyers have expressed interest in De Castro’s vibrant, silk-screened portraits as a result of the Art Basel Miami Beach presentation. His series features people trying to make a difference in the world; he identified them by reaching out via social media to young people from countries experiencing political or cultural change, asking each person to choose an object, place, individual, and color that best represented their feelings. Mike Finkelstein’s “Bike Path” emphasizes the connection between process and product; he photographed his 15-mile bike journey to Coney Island, making eight final prints using water collected from Coney Island.

In Stephen Mondics’ short film “Natural,” he follows a filmmaker making a movie with his real life girlfriend. The work highlights certain processes in film making that Mondics finds most important—including camera movement, body movement, lighting, and color.

“Our partnership with Pratt focused on identifying the top, burgeoning talent in the arts and challenging them to bring to life our ‘Never stop. Never settle.’ mantra, centered on the notion of pushing the limits of one’s potential,” said Rodney Williams, Senior Vice President at Hennessy. “The work we were privileged to evaluate this year exceeded our expectations and the stories behind the pieces moved us immensely.”

The competition, now in its second year, builds on a relationship between Pratt and Hennessy that began in 2012 when Mike Cook (B.F.A. Communications Design ’12) won the inaugural art challenge with a mixed-media piece marrying stop-motion and live-action video with sculpture.

For the 2013 competition, Bellantoni initially invited nine Pratt students from photography, jewelry, film/video, and communications design departments to participate in the art challenge. Judges from both Pratt and Hennessy evaluated the nine pieces and selected the three winners. The artwork has been extensively showcased on the Hennessy V.S website and social media channels, providing students with even greater exposure through the company’s global platform. 

 “To have their work exhibited during Art Basel is a dream come true for students,” said Bellantoni. “The quality of the work produced by these students is simply outstanding and this competition shows how a collaborative exchange can spark such a wide range of innovative new work.”

Photo: Courtesy of Hennessy V.S


Renovated Faculty and Staff Dining Hall Becomes Living Showcase of Alumni Design

Where in the world can you find a dedicated place that brings together the work of Pratt alumni under one roof?

The answer is North Hall, where the Faculty and Staff Dining Hall has recently been transformed into a smart new space completely designed, furnished, and decorated with the work of Pratt alumni—from light fixtures, window treatments, and floor tiles to furniture and artwork. Many of these works were created for companies such as Knoll, West Elm, and Starwoods Hotels & Resorts, to name a few. 

Professor Bruce Hannah (B.I.D. ’63) conceived and curated the project and Visiting Assistant Professor of Industrial Design Tanya Van Cott, AIA (B.Arch. ’93, M.I.D. ’98), designed the space. Ron Jones, Director of Food Services, served as the project manager. The dedication ceremony for the hall, held on November 21, was attended by Pratt Institute President Thomas F. Schutte.

“The renovated dining hall is a wonderful addition to the dining options on campus. It offers a unique opportunity to experience the influence of Pratt alumni on the outside world in a very personal way. I am especially grateful to Bruce and Tanya for taking the lead and managing this important project,” said Schutte.

The dining room contains close to 25 pieces from 30 designers, and the collection spans 60 years of art and design work by Pratt alumni, from the Eye Wall Clock (designed by Lucia DeRespinis, Certificate ’52, B.I.D. ’62) to track lighting (designed by Molly McGee M.I.D. ’06). 

The space is intended to serve as a home of living, experiential exhibits. Visitors can relax in a lounge chair designed by Charles Pollock (B.I.D. ’53) or dine at round tables designed by Joe D’Urso (Interior Design ’65). The room also features four exhibition spaces—the walls, a shelf display, a wall-mounted rail display, and a monitor—that allow for easy installation and presentation of art and design work by alumni, faculty, and students.

For Tanya Van Cott, this project required a very different way of working. “Normally, as a designer, you curate the objects that will go within the space. Because the objects were already curated, my challenge here was to figure out how to choose the right finishes and coordinate them to make a successful space,” she said.

The pieces selected for the room reflect diverse creative perspectives. “That’s the power of Pratt—that there are multiple points of view and outcomes to everything that we do, from furniture to art and design,” said Hannah. He noted the significant support for the project shown by alumni, whose time and donations played an important role in making it a success.

The renovated dining room is also popular with faculty, staff, and visitors. “The response has been amazing,” said Ron Jones.

Text: Marion Hammon
Images: Peter Tannenbaum