SVA Graduate Newsletter | Winter 2021
SVA Graduate Newsletter | Winter 2021
SVA NYC | Close-up of an installation using plastic baby bottles to make hanging stars and planets, as part of a work for an exhibition called Single Use Planet.

The Graduate Newsletter

Winter 2021

Happy New Year! With 2020 finally behind us, hope is high for better times. With that in mind, in this issue, we wanted to reflect on recent graduates who use their talents to bring focus to causes larger than themselves.
Two works made by homeless artists from the exhibition Goliath; one work is of a pair of converse sneakers atop a pile of books. The other is a drawing of a poet drawn on top of sheets of his poetry.

Showcasing Artists Often Overlooked

POP-UP GALLERY OFF THE MARGINS, founded by Jason Branch (MFA 2019 Interaction Design), hosted Goliath: An Art Exhibition for Those Affected by Homelessness in the spring of 2019. While getting his master’s, Branch befriended a street artist named Daniel Sostheim near the College. This friendship inspired him to host an exhibition for Sostheim’s work—the show’s name, Goliath, was a nod to the artist’s large stature. Over time, however, the scope of the show grew to include more than 15 artists.
Image of Jason Branch at the exhibition he set up, along with a friend.
Jason Branch (left)
Through a Kickstarter campaign, Branch raised $4,200 and launched the exhibit. More than half the works sold, with proceeds going to the artists and the Bowery Mission, a New York City institution helping the homeless since the 1870s.
“From graduation, commencement speeches, to working life, I think this is my crowning achievement, my most prized accomplishment,” Branch said. (Branch gave the master’s candidates’ address at SVA’s 2019 Commencement.)

More About Graduate Study at SVA

Art therapist Holly Brennan and a picture of a tile work made by residents of the group home she works at, featuring bottle caps, pieces of glass and other found items.

Building Connection and Belonging in Brooklyn

ART THERAPIST AND ARTIST HOLLY BRENNAN (MPS 2019 Art Therapy) shared her creative skills at a group home in Brooklyn that provides shelter and support for individuals formerly suffering from homelessness and severe mental illness. Brennan had residents collaborate on creating mosaic tiles for the home’s backyard. She quickly saw them embrace the project, taking risks and incorporating found objects into their tile pieces. “Participants went from being passive recipients to actively creating self-directed artwork together,” she said.
A tile work featuring glass and shells made by residents of a group home.
For a population whose circumstances can create shame and stigma, art-making can help develop connection and pride. “Group members strategically placed their mosaic tiles in spaces in the backyard where they could see them from their apartment windows,” Brennan stated, “signaling their increased sense of belonging and ownership of their shared living space.”
Another view of the exhibition Single-Use Planet, including a large planet made up of plastic baby bottles.

Exhibit Highlights Single-Use Waste

ALUMNUS MANUELA REYES RESTREPO (MA 2016 Curatorial Practice) developed Single-Use Planet: A Call-to-Action from the Artists of the Americas for the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), where she works as a senior associate of Arts and Transformation.
Through financial and technical assistance, the IDB aims to combat poverty and inequality and improve health, education and infrastructure throughout Latin American and the Caribbean—in a way that is sustainable and climate-friendly.
Manuela Reyes Restropo smiling, and a view of the exhibition she curated called Single-Use Planet. Another view of the exhibition shows a work called Gemini Duplex Chanti Capsule, which is made up of cheaply found materials but mimics the Gemini space capsule created by NASA in the 1960s.
Single-Use Planet featured “eco-activist artists” using throw-away items (soccer balls, plastic baby bottles, flip-flops) as material and subjects of their works—recycling them into art objects while bringing awareness to waste. The exhibition, initially held at the IDB Cultural Center in Washington, D.C., is available to view virtually.

“In developing situations in which people can sense new ways to understand nature, we can enhance this dialogue through carefully thought interdisciplinary projects, creating situations where humans, art and nature coexist.”

— Manuela Reyes Restrepo
A black-and-white photograph called Self Portrait, Sea Wind Avenue, depicting a silhouette of a man standing behind the bars of an abandoned structure in a desert with a sign that says, “American Dreams.”

Artist Spotlight:

Johnnie Chatman

Self Portrait, Sea Wind Avenue, from Salton Sea, 2014
Lens-based artist Johnnie Chatman’s (MFA 2020 Photography, Video and Related Media) work is touring in two group exhibitions.
SVA is preparing for in-person learning for fall 2021. Look here for updates.

Application deadline for Summer and Fall 2021: January 15

SVA offers a multidisciplinary approach to advanced studies in the arts. Internationally renowned faculty teaching dynamic curriculum define us as a catalyst for innovation and social responsibility. Learn more about us online: sva.edu/grad.

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