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.


Pratt Shows 2014 to Celebrate Year-End Events This Spring

Untitled, Nora Mattingly (M.S. Interior Design ’12).From April 11 to the end of May, Pratt Shows 2014 will promote the Institute’s spring year-end shows together for the first time. Pratt Shows 2014 will display students’ boldest ideas, biggest thinking, and best work in a series of events and exhibitions that will include: Fine Arts, Architecture, Fashion Show, Film/Video, Photography, and Pratt Design. Pratt Design, the new name for what was formerly known as Pratt Show, will include work from Communications Design, Jewelry, Industrial Design, and Interior Design.

The Pratt Shows 2014 celebration will give industry professionals, members of the media, and the general public a chance to see students’ outstanding work and to discover the next generation of Pratt talent. It will also offer alumni, staff, and other members of the Pratt community an opportunity to see how the work of today’s students continues to build on the Institute’s legacy of innovation and ideas. Mark your calendars. Starting in early April, visit www.pratt.edu/pratt-shows for updates.


Selected works by second-year M.F.A. students
April 11–April 25
The Boiler, 191 North 14th Street, Brooklyn
Hours: Tuesday–Sunday, 12–6 PM

April 11
7–9 PM Opening Reception

Selected works by senior B.F.A. students
April 17–May 9
Kunsthalle Galapagos, 16 Main Street, Third Floor, Brooklyn
Hours: Tuesday–Saturday, 1–6 PM

Part I: April 17–24
April 17
7–9 PM Opening Reception

Part II: April 30–May 9
April 30
7–9 PM Opening Reception


Digital Arts B.F.A./M.F.A. Screening

April 28
Animation screening
6 PM

A screening of senior capstone projects by B.F.A. degree candidates and thesis projects by M.F.A. degree candidates from Pratt Institute’s Department of Digital Arts. Tickets are free at the BAM box office the night of the show. 

BAM Rose Cinema 3
30 Lafayette Avenue,

April 29
Interactive and Digital Imaging Screening
6 PM

A screening of senior capstone projects by B.F.A. degree candidates and thesis projects by M.F.A. degree candidates from Pratt Institute’s Department of Digital Arts.

Higgins Hall
Pratt Institute
61 St. James Place, Brooklyn

B.F.A. Interactive Arts Senior Show
April 21–25, 9 AM–5 PM
Opening: April 21, 5 PM

Pratt Brooklyn Campus
Digital Arts Gallery, Myrtle Hall, Fourth Floor

Sherie Weldon Digital Imaging M.F.A.
Thesis Exhibition
April 28–May 5, 9 AM–5 PM
Opening: April 29, 5 PM

Pratt Brooklyn Campus
Digital Arts Gallery, Myrtle Hall, Fourth Floor

Eric Reper+Stephanie Sassins Interactive
Arts M.F.A. Thesis Exhibition
April 14–18, 9 AM–5 PM
Opening: April 14, 5 PM

Pratt Brooklyn Campus
Digital Arts Gallery,  Myrtle Hall, Fourth Floor


May 1

6 PM Fashion Show and Award Presentation
Center548, 548 West 22nd Street, Manhattan

7:30 PM Cocktail Benefit
The High Line Hotel, 180 Tenth Avenue, Manhattan

Proceeds benefit Pratt scholarship funds and the Institute’s Department of Fashion. Please purchase your tickets now (last year’s event sold out).


Film/Video Senior Thesis Show at BAM
May 12
5PM Student Selects
8 PM Jury Selects
BAM Rose Cinemas, 30 Lafayette Avenue, Brooklyn
Tickets are free, but reservations must be made by sending an email to filmvideo@pratt.edu. Anyone who has not made a reservation will be placed on standby.

From the Basement: Film/Video and Photography Senior Thesis Exhibition
May 12–24
Pratt Manhattan Campus, 144 West 14th Street, Manhattan 

May 15
5–7 PM Opening Reception


From the Basement: Photography and Film/Video Senior Thesis Exhibition
May 12–24
Pratt Manhattan Campus, 144 West 14th Street, Manhattan

May 15
5–7 PM Opening Reception

2014 PRATT DESIGN (formerly known as Pratt Show)

May 12–15
The Manhattan Center, 311 West 34th Street, Manhattan 

May 12, 6–9 PM
Exclusive Champagne Reception for Industry Professionals

Please RSVP to Pratt Institute, Center for Career and Professional Development by May 5 at prattshow2014.eventbrite.com, or call at 718.636.3506.

Public Show Hours
May 12, 12–5 PM
May 13, 9 AM–9 PM
May 14, 9 AM–9 PM
May 15, 9 AM–12 PM

Free and open to the public. No RSVP required.


May 14–19
10 AM–4 PM
Pratt Brooklyn Campus, Higgins Hall, First Floor
200 Willoughby Avenue

May 15
3–5 PM Opening Reception

Free and open to the public. No RSVP required.

Image: Peter Tannenbaum


Alumnus David Shirk Awarded Oscar for Best Visual Effects in Gravity

L-R: Chris Lawrence, David Shirk, and Neil Corbould pose in the press room during the Oscars at Loews Hollywood Hotel on March 2, 2014.David Shirk, a senior animation adviser on the 2013 film Gravity, won the Oscar for “Best Visual Effects” at the Academy Awards Ceremony held March 2.

Shirk, originally from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, received a dual B.F.A. in Illustration and Film at Pratt in 1989, right around the time when computer design was just starting to take off. According to his father, Harold Shirk, David had been “making home movies with a movie camera when he was a sophomore or freshman in high school,” and the family “figured when he was that involved, that is where he would wind up.”

Shirk has contributed to several recent films including Elysium, Transformers and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. He has worked for a variety of large corporations such as Microsoft and for George Lucas, creator of Star Wars, at the Skywalker Ranch.

Text: Ruth Samuelson
Photo: © T Leopold/Globe Photos/ZUMAPRESS.com/Alamy Live News


Stephen Burrows and Byron Lars to be Honored at Pratt Fashion Show

Still from last year's Fashion Show + Cocktail Benefit. On May 1, the 2014 Pratt Institute Fashion Show + Cocktail Benefit will spotlight inventive student fashion designs in its 115th annual ticketed runway show attended by fashion industry leaders, critics, and luminaries. This year’s event will honor fashion designers Stephen Burrows and Byron Lars, and will be followed by a cocktail benefit with the honorees. Burrows will receive the Pratt Institute Fashion Lifetime Achievement Award and Lars will receive the Pratt Institute Fashion Visionary Award at this year’s show titled “Under Construction.”

 Pratt Institute is recognizing Burrows and Lars for their outstanding work in design, with Burrows as a preeminent black designer of the 1970s and 1980s and Lars leading a growing and influential group of contemporary black designers. Both Burrows and Lars are featured in Pratt’s Black Dress: Ten Contemporary Fashion Designers exhibition, an unprecedented group show that celebrates the creativity and entrepreneurship of black designers (Pratt Manhattan Gallery, through 4/26).

The Pratt Fashion Show will feature exemplary work by graduating seniors from the Fashion Department, as pre-selected by a panel of industry experts and fashion press. The senior collections have been reviewed, critiqued, and refined throughout the school year and, of the nearly 60 students in the graduating class, only top works will be selected to present at the Pratt Fashion Show. Students have been challenged to rethink the boundaries of fashion through innovative ideas and techniques under the leadership of Fashion Department Chair Jennifer Minniti, who joined Pratt in 2011. “Under Construction” will highlight each student’s individual approach to design through newly conceived fabrics, manipulated textiles, bonded materials, and other alternative methods of construction.

Held annually, the Pratt Fashion Show attracts preeminent members of the fashion industry and raises essential scholarship funds for Pratt’s Department of Fashion.

Cotton Incorporated is 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 is the platinum sponsor for the Pratt Fashion Show + Cocktail Benefit. Santander Universities is a philanthropic arm of the Santander Group that is focused on advancing the needs of society as a whole through higher education.

Please purchase your tickets now at www.pratt.edu/fashionshow as last year’s event sold out and tickets are limited. Email fashionshow@pratt.edu with any questions. 

6 PM Award Presentation + Fashion Show
Center548, 548 West 22nd Street, Manhattan

7:30 PM Cocktail Benefit
The High Line Hotel, 180 10th Avenue, Manhattan

Text: Amy Aronoff, Marion Hammon
Photo: Josh Wong


Filmmaker Spike Lee’s Talk Sparks Dialogue and Widespread Press Coverage

Spike Lee speaking at Memorial Hall on February 25.On February 25, Filmmaker Spike Lee came to Pratt Institute’s Brooklyn campus to give a talk in honor of Black History Month. The talk received coverage in outlets including The New York Times, The Guardian, and New York Magazine, and resulted in an appearance from Lee on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360.

The director, whose films include Brooklyn-based Do the Right Thing, Clockers, and School Daze, attracted a strong turnout for his talk in Memorial Hall. The Pratt Presents program was co-sponsored by the Division of Student Affairs, the Office of Student Involvement, and the Pratt Student Diversity Council.

After discussing his own upbringing, schooling, and the devaluing of education in certain African-American communities, Lee began taking questions from the audience, including one from Pratt alumnus D.K. Smith about gentrification that created lively discussion and debate.

Lee’s talk itself included references to his childhood in Brooklyn and what led him to a film career. He attended John Dewey High School in Brooklyn and Morehouse College, where his father and grandfather studied, in Atlanta.

Lee said he lacked direction early in college. “I was a D+/C– student,” he told the crowd. “I wouldn’t do the work.”

That changed when his friend gave him a Super 8 camera during the summer of 1977 and he began to shoot footage, which he later edited into a documentary. That’s when he realized “I want to tell stories. I want to be a filmmaker. I want to tell African-American stories in this country,” Lee said.

“My junior/senior year, I was an A+ student across the board because I was motivated,” he said.

Lee lamented the fact that education is demeaned in parts of the African-American community, rather than being highly valued, as it was amongst slaves.

“If you knew how to write—as a slave—it was your civic duty to teach others to read and write, on Sundays usually,” Lee said.

Lee talked to a wide variety of audience members, including students—from Pratt and other New York universities—asking for career advice during the Q&A session.

Toward the end of the evening, a former middle school classmate of Lee’s introduced herself.

“I just wanted to tell you hello and how very proud we are of everything you’re doing,” she said.

Lee’s talk launched the Institute’s new Pratt Presents series, high-profile events featuring distinguished guests in a variety of formats. “We are excited by the prospect of presenting original public programming built around big ideas and influential artists and thinkers. The events will inspire dialogue and discussion, and engage the public as well as the Pratt community,” said Andrea Jeyaveeran, Pratt’s new Director of Public Programs and Campus Event Services.

Text: Ruth Samuelson, Marion Hammon
Photo: Peter Tannenbaum