The lecture will cover the essential elements that can make an exhibition design uniquely compelling, whether for art and/or design exhibitions; and will introduce Pratt SCPS’s Exhibition Design Certificate Program. A Q&A period will follow the presentation.
PRATT EARTH ACTION WEEK: “MEDITATION AND SOUND HEALING”
Friday, September 25, 2020, 2:30-3:30pm EST
LOCATION: ONLINE – ZOOM
Led by Joelle Danant, Program Director, Credit Continuing Education Instructor, and Lecturer, Continuing and Professional Studies, Athletics
Meditation, sound healing, and chanting contribute to sustainability by elevating our vibrations and fostering balance toward wholeness. Starting with a guided meditation on the Elements—Earth, Air, Water & Light (Part 1)—we shift our attention from receiving their goodness, to giving back by sending compassion, gratitude, and blessings to the Life that sustains us. Part Two of this session consists of a sound healing session using world acoustic instruments, followed by an invitation to join our voices in life-affirming chants (using original music) for upliftment of self and the world.
Adjusting to online classes can be challenging! Here are a few tips to get the most out of your experience and connect with your instructor and fellow learners.
1. Review instructor feedback. Make time to review prior feedback and notes before class. Have a list of questions ready to ask about anything that isn’t 100% clear. SCPS instructors will make time for Q&A; they want you to get all you can from your courses! There are no stupid questions, only lost opportunities.
[Provide feedback, too! Let your instructor know if there’s something they did in class that you liked. This will help them improve their online teaching skills—they are looking for ways to engage you.]
2. Take photos of your work. Take photos of your work and share files through Canvas. This also gives you a digital record for the future!
[Feel free to send to photos of your work, photos of you creating your work, or photos of you attending class to Kristen at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to show prospective students what it’s like to take classes & create at Pratt!]
3. Make sure your files are in the right format. When it’s your time to upload files for a presentation or class assignment, ensure your files are the right type and size for uploading well before class begins so you’re not crunched for time at the last minute.
4. Turn on your camera.
I know. You didn’t brush your hair. However, if you have camera access, use it! It creates a more personal learning experience, allows the teacher to see your reactions, and connects you to other class members. Don’t be a silent observer! You paid for the class; you deserve to get ALL you can from it.
Understand that your instructor may not feel “camera-ready,” either. They are working hard to adjust to the online format. Finding the ideal light/angle may not be at the forefront of their priorities!
5. Use the chat box. Especially if you don’t have camera access, the chat box can be your best tool for communication. Make sure you are participating! It can also be a good way to get your questions in without interrupting at an inopportune time.
6. Check every tab. View every tab in Canvas—Files, Downloads, & Discussions—so you don’t miss any important content.
7. Capture comments. When instructors make comments on your assignments in Canvas, experiment with the best way to capture them for future reference. One method is to take a screenshot, retitle it, and save it to your class folder.
8. Download course files. Use Google Drive, Base Camp, an external hard drive, or a flash drive to store course files & class recordings after each session. NOTE: OneKey remains “live” for 31 days after a class ends. After that, class access is closed.
9. Network! We cannot emphasize this enough! Not only does this help with class content and assignments, it also creates a community and a networking base for the next stage in your career.
10. Use free search tools.org is a huge, wonderful resource! Download and save whatever is FREE and RELEVANT to your course of study or field of interest.
Nina Edwards is a fashion illustrator based in New York City. She currently teaches Introduction to Fashion Illustration, Portfolio and Special Projects, and Creative Careers at Pratt Institute’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies (SCPS). She earned her BFA in illustration from FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology) and her MFA from California State University, Fullerton. Nina has been active in the fields of graphic design, editorial illustration, greeting cards, and social expression for over 20 years. Her expertise includes digital and watercolor illustrations and the integration of opposing elements such as traditional and modern, Eastern and Western, and art and technology into illustrations and designs.
Nina’s work has appeared in numerous publications, book covers, books and magazines editorials, licensing products, and art galleries. Her portfolio of clients includes: Art Hearts Fashion Week, Style Fashion Week, New York Garment District Alliance, Scholastic, Bridal Guide Magazine, Girls’ Life, Seventeen, and Cosmopolitan Magazine to name a few. Keep reading to learn about Nina’s inspirations, passions, career achievements and her journey as a Professor at Pratt Institute.
Pratt SCPS: What motivated you to pursue a career in the fashion world and where do you draw your inspiration from?
Nina Edwards: My passion is to inspire and empower myself and others to live the best version of ourselves. I use fashion art as a vehicle to develop and elevate for excellence. I get inspiration from everything in life. Movies, music, museums, art galleries, other artwork, fashion shows, flea markets, magazines, internet posts, my children and husband, friends, nature, people walking down the street, my dreams, etc. I believe we don’t go looking for inspiration. It will come to you on its own, like happiness.
Pratt SCPS: What has been your greatest professional achievement and what would you consider the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome in order to achieve it?
NinaEdwards: I was working full time as a senior graphic designer in a mid-size San Francisco advertising agency in the beginning of my career. My great professional achievement was to art direct and design collateral for huge brands including Starbucks. My biggest challenges in that position were my communication and presentation skills. To overcome my shortcomings, I joined a Toastmasters club where I learned and fine-tuned my public speaking and interpersonal communication skills, and gained many opportunities to network with professionals in the design and art licensing industries.
Pratt SCPS: When did your Pratt journey begin and what do you enjoy most about being an educator in this field?
Nina Edwards: My journey at Pratt started in the winter of 2015, when I was invited to conduct an art licensing and intellectual property law workshop at Pratt. It was well-received and about 40 people attended. I enjoy sharing my professional experience with students from different countries and backgrounds and teaching and inspiring them to be better artists and designers. As a teacher, all my illustration, design, and communication skills are put into practice while I am teaching and guiding my students. I was born and raised in Taiwan and speaking Mandarin is an asset for me when teaching students from China and Taiwan.
Pratt SCPS: What advice do you have for creative professionals who desire to launch their own art and design careers in the future?
Nina Edwards: Know who you are, develop clear art styles for your brand, think outside the box, networking constantly in person and online, and never stop learning. Know who you are, develop a unique art style for your brand, think outside the box, network constantly in person and online, and never stop learning.
This fall Nina will be teaching Intro to Fashion Illustration in the Creative Careers program at the School of Continuing and Professional Studies.
Make sure to follow Nina on social media to view her most recent portfolio work and to learn about her upcoming events and projects.
Subscribe to DESIGNTERRA to stay up-to-date on all the latest content.
Meet Abigail Kahn, a senior in high school from Virginia. She loves to write, read, research women’s history and spend time with her dog. During the summer of 2019, Abigail had the exciting opportunity to explore her love of creative writing more intensively as one of almost 400 students in the PreCollege Program at Pratt Institute. Keep reading to learn more about Abigail’s experience living as a college student at Pratt, as well as her interests, her future career plans, and read one of her most recent literary pieces titled, Saint Apollonia.
Pratt SCPS: As a student in last summer’s Pratt PreCollege Program how would you describe the experience of living and studying like an art and design college student?
Abigail: It was completely independent and exciting. It felt refreshing in the sense of having the chance to work in an area of study that you love so much. It didn’t feel as daunting as I thought it would because of how quickly everyone in my group got along. It was fun to see all the other art students and witness the process of their projects. It was especially prominent in this program because I’ve been used to having a little art program at my school back home and all of a sudden there was this diverse range of classes everyone was part of. There’s so many chances to incorporate your own interests and areas of research into your projects. It motivates you to be around so many talented people who are engaged in an area of interest that they chose. No one is stressing about algebra or physics, everyone was just constantly inspired. There was also the addition of being around people who came from far away or were commuter students and knew the city perfectly which was always cool to be around.
The experience of being in a city was incredible, too. There was one day where one of our professors took us into the city to visit book stores and it was one of my favorite days in the program. Having the chance to get familiar with Brooklyn was definitely a key factor I was anticipating as someone who has grown up in a single neighborhood. Finally having the chance to discover a new area was definitely a memorable part of the program.
Pratt SCPS: What valuable lessons were you able to gain from your time at Pratt and what part of the Pratt experience do you reflect on the most?
Abigail: The classes I had were unlike anything I had ever taken. It was a dream to be able to purely study writing. I think within those classes there were so many lessons between my professors that I still reference in my writing. I’ve found myself going back to a lot of the messy notes I took in class for this school year. My understanding of texts and how to deepen my analytical thinking has been something I’ve kept closest to myself outside of the program. For writing, it’s heavily implemented into you to trust your writing. Whenever you begin to second guess or think of stepping back—that’s when you should submerge yourself into the writing even more.
At this time in my school year, I find myself looking back on my classes the most. I went through more growth as a writer than I thought I would within a month and that’s something I’ve held onto for myself for motivation. The professors challenge you each day to step outside of your comfort zone because they know that’s the way you’ll enhance your work and develop a more sophisticated voice. They do this with the texts they introduce in class, too. I’ve had a lot of days since leaving the program where I miss all the plays or short stories I was assigned because of how they were unlike anything I’ve ever been given in English classes before. The work they introduce to you in the program never felt like a reused curriculum from other teachers. It held personal connections from the professors themselves, which always made the class discussions more stimulating.
Pratt SCPS: As a blossoming creative writer where do you draw your inspiration from? What motivates you to create and write?
Abigail: I draw the most inspiration from women. The majority of my writing is influenced by the relationships with women in my life or the historical female figures I find the most solace in. “Maddening women” is a pretty common theme in my writing—in terms of women who I think were justified for their “anger” or memories I have of my sisters. I’m always interested in dissecting why certain women in history were seen as vile or controversial at the time and why they were given that reputation. I like the idea of reclaiming what used to be seen as something to be fearful of in women, such as female hysteria and witchcraft, and then juxtaposing it with modern girls and how those terms are something to take pride in. I think I’ve spent so many years being trained to take in media that devalues women or condescends them that I’m now able to unravel those moments and understand how it affected me and how I can adjust those perspectives to fit my choice of representation for women. All forms of writing, even the angry little rants on my notes app have all helped me find relief in history or the present that can feel distressing. I’ve been really fortunate to grow up around observant, opinionated women who value their first impressions on certain events or people—and I owe all my writing to them.
Pratt SCPS: Where do you see yourself in a couple years? Do you envision yourself studying creative writing and pursuing it as a professional career or do you envision yourself exploring other areas that interest you?
Abigail: I hope I’m at a point where I’m studying subjects that truly interest me and I’m able to challenge myself in those areas of interest. I definitely want to continue studying creative writing for as long as I can and with that, make a career out of it. The idea of getting a book deal feels very unreal as of now, but it is something I’m striving for the most. If any point I’d be offered a chance to write about women, I’d be immensely thankful.
I’d also like to study art history and go into curator or archivist work in museums. Writing will always be my first choice for anything, but I’m still waiting to graduate school and I’m definitely open for whatever comes next.
Saint Apollonia written by Abigail Kahn
To learn more about the PreCollege Program at Pratt Institute visit our website. Make sure to follow Pratt PreCollege on social media: Facebook and Instagram.
Meet Sophia Anderson, a seventeen-year-old cat enthusiast from St. Paul, Minnesota. She loves day-dreaming about conquering the world and has a fascination with the works of Edgar Allan Poe. At any given moment, she can most likely be found drinking sparkling water with her nose buried in a book or laughing with friends. Her life-long dream is to write novels in New York City and empower young women everywhere. This past summer, Sophia joined hundreds of fellow high school students in the Pratt Institute PreCollege Program. Tune in below to learn about Sophia’s summer at Pratt, her inspirations and passion for writing, and read one of her most recent works.
Pratt SCPS: As a student in this summer’s Pratt Institute PreCollege Program how would you describe the experience of living and studying like an art and design college student?
Sophia: Living and studying at Pratt was one of my best summers yet. I was constantly surrounded by amazingly talented people. You walk through campus and there’s this wonderful, artistic vibe that inspires you. I never felt like I was in competition with anyone else, but studying here pushed me to be a better writer. Part of it is that you can tell everyone takes their work seriously, so it creates a productive environment. The other part was my own passion for writing. Outside of class, the people are really welcoming and fun, always open to talk or start an art project together. I had a lot of friends who weren’t even in my concentration, but we would still hang out on the weekends or after class. Free time was perfect for that because you can leave campus and head into Manhattan or stay in Brooklyn and explore. It helped me understand the subway system, which is saying a lot because I’m terrible at directions.
Pratt SCPS: What valuable lessons were you able to gain from your time at Pratt and what part of the Pratt experience do you reflect on the most?
Sophia: Being at Pratt helped me learn that there are many ways to be a great artist, and that everyone has a different approach. Coming here by yourself and being surrounded by all new people kind of forces you out of your shell in the best way. Personally, I’m not super extraverted or introverted, but I never felt alone. I had friends from different states and countries and they taught me a lot. My roommate, who is from California, was in graphic design and we had so many adventures. We still talk every day. On top of meeting new people, just seeing my peers’ work showed me that we can all learn from each other. I would read someone’s piece and be like, “Oh my gosh, her imagery is amazing. I need to get better at that.” And that night when I did homework, I would focus on imagery. I think it’s important to know before you come here that you’re not going to be the best, but that’s a good thing. You’re here to learn and get better and you will do that if you’re open to it.
Pratt SCPS: As a blossoming creative writer where do you draw your inspiration from? What motivates you to create and write?
Sophia: There are so many things that inspire me, but I think the interactions I have with other people is the first thing that comes to mind. Every relationship I have has impacted me somehow. I’ve had good friends and bad friends, I’ve been let down and, unfortunately, let other people down. I’ve just grown up in general. Those are pretty universal. If I can take those experiences and turn them into something that helps someone else or turn it into personal growth, that’s important to me. Especially if it helps other young women. We’re constantly pitted against each other, told that we have to be better than each other and then belittled if we don’t prove ourselves “worthy.” There are paradoxical standards shoved in our faces, and it damages us from a young age. But if I can make another girl feel more supported through my writing one day that would make me beyond happy.
Pratt SCPS: Where do you see yourself in a couple years from now? Do you envision yourself studying creative writing and pursuing it as a professional career or do you envision yourself exploring other areas that interest you?
Sophia: Writing has always been a huge part of my life. I feel most comfortable writing. But I also have about eighty other passions and I don’t want to limit myself to one. I can envision myself being a New York Times Bestselling Author or being editor-in-chief of Vogue magazine. I could end up running a sustainable fashion business or leading a political group focused on women’s reproductive rights. I have big dreams but regardless of what I choose, I want to improve the lives of other people. I want to be challenged. There are a lot of problems with this world and I’m not going to spend my life standing still.
Lover written by Sophia Anderson
“I laid my heart out on the streets of Fifth Avenue.
Right in the middle of a crosswalk.
Red pumping heart, healthy and strong.
I laid it out hoping you would walk over it sometime.
See, I knew other people would spend the day scuffing at it:
Businessmen with trophy wives at home,
College students with art supplies weighing down their steps,
Tourist families holding maps in sweating hands,
Models and performers moving with music in their limbs.
I’m fine with that; they can stomp on my heart if they want,
It’ll still beat until you come upon it.
I don’t know where you are, but I know I’ll meet you.
Dark hair and long legs, I think. Definitely a business major.
I laid my heart out in a crosswalk in Brooklyn.
7th Avenue, by Prospect Park.
I hope the families walk over it on their way to have a picnic.
I hope they don’t speak English and I hope they hold hands.
In the end, it doesn’t matter. I know you’re there.
You’ll talk about it lightly but treat it well,
crack a joke but feel a lot on the inside.
I know you already.
You’ve got stars in your brown eyes and a smile always.
I know you like writing too and I know you can draw a bit.
You probably want to create a cartoon like Rick and Morty.
I like that show.
We’ll get on well, argue sometimes because we both like being right but we’ll be okay because we love each other more than that.
You’ll have blonde hair and freckles, which is a little rustic,
but you’ll be a city kid at heart.
I laid my heart out on a crosswalk in SoHo.
I hope fashion designers walk on this one.
Stiletto heels with red bottoms and Burberry purses.
I hope the wealthy bloggers glide over it with their ballet flats.
My heart will like it there; I made sure to place it by a gluten free bakery so it’ll always smell like cinnamon and overpriced coffee.
You’ll trip over it, then pick it up because it intrigues you.
You’ll be a high school dropout who spends his time filling his sketchbook with street style.
You’ll create a whole line after me, your muse, whose favorite color is red because it’s bold like I want to be.
I left my heart in three separate crosswalks in New York City.
All of them will be picked up, one of them will stick.
There’s an apartment on 7th Avenue with my name on it.”
To learn more about the PreCollege Program at Pratt Institute visit the SCPS website.
At Pratt’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies (SCPS), sustainability isn’t just a passing thought or popular trend, it’s one of the cornerstones of our art and design educational curriculum. The Sustainable Design Certificate program led by Joelle Danant, with Tetsu Ohara’s guidance as Academic Consultant, provides the opportunity for students to learn the necessary skills and techniques to apply sustainable design practices and methods into their careers and professional work. This program features an exceptional team of faculty which includes Tetsu Ohara, Kat Choate, Daniel Penge and Danielle Trofe. This dream team of educators possesses expert knowledge and experience in the fields of sustainable design, biomimicry and biodesign.
As a faculty cohort within the Sustainable Design Certificate Program at Pratt SCPS, they collaborate, co-teach and support all facets of the certificate program to ensure that students receive a first class educational experience in sustainable design. This month we are spotlighting this incredible team of accomplished designers and educators. Keep reading to learn more about each of these faculty members including their career achievements, pedagogical approaches, and what motivated them to become sustainable design educators at Pratt Institute.
Tetsu Ohara is an accomplished Designer and Adjunct Associate Professor in the Interior Design Department’s Graduate Program at Pratt Institute. As a FIPSE grant recipient, he serves as coordinator for the Pratt Sustainability Coalition (for the Annual Green Week Event Series). Tetsu began his Pratt journey in 2007. For well over a decade Tetsu has been teaching Pratt students about the inspiring world of biomimicry and sustainable design. As one of the leading educators at Pratt, Tetsu has had an immense impact across campus in supporting the education of future experts and leaders in these fields. This past summer, Tetsu served as the faculty adviser and mentor for a team of Pratt undergraduate and graduate students who participated in the 2019 Biomimicry Global Design Challenge, an annual competition organized by the Biomimicry Institute, and the team won third place. To read more about the exceptional achievements made by these Pratt students check out this wonderful feature from Pratt News: Adaptations in Nature Inspire Students in Award-Winning Design to Reduce Food Waste.
Tetsu Ohara’s relationship with sustainable design began many years ago. As a child, Tetsu was most drawn to feature films produced by Studio Ghibli, the iconic Japanese animation film studio known worldwide for its animation feature films. He recalls having been particularly captivated by the important portrayals of “the symbiotic relationship between humans and nature” in films such as Nausicaa (1984). As an adult, Tetsu was able to travel the world which fueled his appreciation for its beauty. This discovery would inspire him to pursue a career path in sustainable design. Currently, Tetsu teaches Biomimicry in both the Graduate Interior Design Program (Pratt Interior Design Department) and the Sustainable Design Certificate program (SCPS) among other related courses at Pratt Institute.
Kat Choate began their journey at Pratt Institute as a student in the Bachelor of Architecture program, minoring in Sustainability Studies. As a student, Kat had the opportunity to learn from Professor Tetsu Ohara, in his Biomimicry course. Kat’s first teaching experience would be at Pratt two years ago, where they co-taught a course in the undergraduate architecture program. Soon after Kat received the opportunity to join the faculty within the Sustainable Design Certificate program at Pratt SCPS, where they co-teach with Daniel Penge.
As an educator, Kat Choate wants their students to see the challenges and obstacles the planet faces as opportunities to develop “creative design solutions”. The only way to guarantee a sustainable world for future generations is for the current generation of artists, designers and creative minds to “design it”. Kat believes that sustainable design is simply good design. A large part of their inspiration is influenced by how the field of design can and will impact the future. They are interested in “investigating the increasingly ambiguous boundaries between the built and natural environment.” Kat and their partner recently received an honorable mention for their entry into the 2019 Blank Space Project’s Outer Space competition. There are many exciting things on the horizon for them. This upcoming Spring semester Kat Choate and Daniel Penge will be teaching the Sustainable Design Foundation course, the Sustainable Design Theory & Practice course, and the Sustainable Materials and Processes course within the Certificate Program.
Daniel Penge is an alumnus of the Industrial Design program at Pratt Institute. He credits his portfolio of work and the network he has built as being directly influenced and shaped by his experiences as a student at Pratt stating, “knowing that I am continuing and expanding upon the work of my academic mentors keeps me galvanized in my efforts, enthusiastic, and informed.” He was excited to receive the opportunity to become a faculty member within the Sustainable Design Certificate program at Pratt SCPS. As a designer, Daniel believes his greatest professional achievement thus far has been collaborating with his peers to “pursue circularity endeavors.” These collaborative opportunities include getting to work with leaders in design at companies like Nike and IDEO.
As a faculty member in the Sustainable Design Certificate program, the message he hopes to impart to his students is “to leave our classroom with a new ability to see the world.” Daniel hopes that when his students become leaders in their respective fields that they frequently ask themselves “questions that break preconception, such as, “Sustainable for whom?” as well as understanding how design intersects and is interconnected with all other industries and almost every facet of life. Daniel’s deep interest and dedication to collaboration and teamwork is highlighted in his teaching collaboration with Professor Kat Choate.
Danielle Trofe is a Designer and certified Biomimicry Specialist, who holds a Master’s Degree in Biomimicry and specializes in biodesign and biomimicry. Danielle studied marketing and entrepreneurship as an undergraduate student and later returned to school to complete her master’s degree in biomimicry. She began her journey at Pratt Institute three years ago when she taught a biodesign studio course in the Industrial Design program. When reflecting on this experience Danielle recalls how intrigued and inspired she was, “to learn how to best communicate methodology as a designer moving into a teacher role. Working with students has been both inspiring and informative and continues to harvest growth and discovery in a realm that entertains many interdisciplinary possibilities.”
As a biodesign expert and educator, Danielle Trofe credits nature as the biggest influencer and motivator in both her personal and professional life. Her pursuit to study and learn about the natural world guided her towards biomimicry, biodesign and teaching. One of Danielle’s greatest professional achievements is being one of the first designers to work with “living mycelium–biofabricating a product line for commercial and retail markets may be one of my crowning achievements to date.” Currently Danielle teaches Biodesign Lab in the Sustainable Design Certificate Program at Pratt SCPS. As an educator, her intention is to break down the barriers preventing designers from being able to seamlessly foray into sciences. Her philosophy is that “you don’t have to be a scientist to do science.” This motto is infused in Danielle’s approach to teaching and she hopes to continue to share her expertise in biodesign to both educate and inspire her students at SCPS to pursue biodesign.
To learn more about the Sustainable Design Certificate program at Pratt SCPS (Brooklyn Campus) and to register for upcoming courses visit our website.
To stay up-to-date on all of the latest content from DESIGNTERRA make sure to subscribe.
For the month of October we are spotlighting Pratt Institute School of Continuing and Professional Studies, Faculty member, RA Friedman. RA is a figurative artist who works at the crossroads of drawing and photography. Intrigued by the idea building bridges to the past and experimenting with older forms in order to find new relationships and relevant expression, his studio practice is informed by a background in science, theater set design, and fine arts. A regular contributor to The Laboratory Arts Collective Magazine and faculty member at Pratt Manhattan as well as continuing education instructor at Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, he recently completed a suite of nine multi-figure compositions created with a pinhole camera. Keep reading to learn more about RA Friedman’s professional achievements and his journey as an educator at Pratt Institute.
Pratt SCPS:What motivated you to pursue a career in the creative world?
RA Friedman: I gradually and more or less naturally gravitated to it. I started out in science/engineering but found myself pulled first into theater and then the visual arts. I just felt there was something very primary in this field that I needed to have in my life. Little did I know where it would lead!
Pratt SCPS: What would you say has been your greatest professional achievement so far?
RA Friedman: I have been working on a set of complex multi-figure photographic montages for about eight years and I just created the ninth image. They were made with a camera that uses a very small aperture, often called a “pinhole,” instead of a lens. I have been invited to exhibit these and do a short residency at Lewis and Clark College in Lewiston, Idaho where I will do a number of workshops, including one demonstrating the unique methodology I use that falls between photography and drawing/printmaking.
Pratt SCPS: When did your Pratt journey begin and what has it been like?
RA Friedman: It began by chance. I met Suzanne de Vegh, the director of Continuing Education and Professional Studies, while I was running a vintage portrait booth. We stayed in touch, shared ideas and I taught my first class, Analog Photography in the summer of 2017. As an undergrad, I had been a Pratt student for one year when Pratt still had an engineering program and I ended up teaching in the same wing where I had studied thermodynamics!
Teaching has really been a joy. What I love about the classes at Pratt is the students are extremely creatively and intellectually sharp; not only do they delve into the material, their energy and ideas open up my thinking.
Pratt SCPS: What has been the most important lesson for you as an educator in this field?
RA Friedman: What I have long believed has shown to be true: As a teaching artist, the creative and technical inquiries I invite my students to experiment with need to be parallel to my own ongoing student practice. The educator’s “homework” is to put in as much quality time in the studio as possible, pose the hard problems and dig for resolutions so they can share that journey with their students. On the practical level, I’ve learned not to make assumptions, think ahead, and to always be a little over-prepared.
Pratt SCPS: What upcoming courses will you be teaching at Pratt?
RA Friedman: In the fall, I will be teaching for the first time The Visual Nature of Photography. The goal of the course is to evolve new ways of thinking about what photography can be. In five, three-hour workshops we’ll explore the connections between the technical and process-related aspects of photography and the resulting outcomes. Students will engage with ways of working that will shift their perspective, such as photographing with pinhole cameras made out of cardboard and plastic “toy” cameras.
If you’re interested in learning more about RA Friedman’s upcoming course in the Fine Art Certificate program visit our main website.
Make sure to subscribe to our blog stay up to date on content.
The School of Continuing and Professional Studies (SCPS) Gallery is excited to present, Been and Gone, featuring the work of Artist and Pratt Alumnus, Hank Ehrenfried. This exhibition will be on display from July 8th through the beginning of September. We are honored to work with Hank to showcase his exceptional art work. Keep reading to learn more about Hank Ehrenfried, his background and professional journey, and his inspirations.
Pratt SCPS: What motivated you to pursue a career in art?
Hank Ehrenfried: It’s a cliche but it never occurred to me that I should really do anything else. It’s always been the objective. And very early on I had a lot of really excellent teachers who made the possibility of that feel real and exciting.
Pratt SCPS:How would you describe your artistic aesthetic and what materials do you use?
Hank Ehrenfried: I’m a painter. And I use oil paints because I like to eat. As for aesthetic, I aspire to some sort of intersection between Jim Hodges’s poetic sensibility and Giorgio Morandi’s capacity to make a still image appear as if it might explode if just one edge is moved. I’m extremely sentimental so much so that it teeters on the edge of fault maybe. I guess that’s for someone else to decide.
Pratt SCPS: What has been the most important lesson for you as a working artist?
Hank Ehrenfried: Patience, definitely. By nature I can be pretty impatient which causes me to rush so finding ways day-to-day to hold my own focus is critical and ever-changing.
Pratt SCPS: How has your art work and technique evolved over time?
Hank Ehrenfried: From late 2011 until the summer of 2018 I was making abstraction. At their best they were active and balanced and pretty unafraid in their color. Towards the end I started to hit all these barriers where I felt like the form was becoming a huge blockade for what I was trying to say and felt like I had been saying with some success previously. To counter that, I started making more rules for myself about the composition and the palette. I liked abstraction and still do like it as a vehicle for obscuring.
I’ve always thought of it as a veil or a gate of sorts but by last May it all became very opaque. I started working from photography because a good photograph solves the problems I had been trying to fix in abstraction by adding more rules – color, form, composition, divisions in space and illusion. I experienced a few deaths in my family as well last Spring that shifted the confidence I have in my own voice and it suddenly became important that what I have to say be said very directly. Figuration felt like the best way to be direct where I have to look at what I am making in a forward-facing sort of way as to opposed to previously which was more like periodic glances.
Pratt SCPS: What inspired the work that was created for this exhibition?
Hank Ehrenfried: All of the work comes from photography. They’re either from an archive of my own family’s photos or photos I’ve taken myself. I guess I’m sort of interested in how a camera is maybe as “bad” at seeing as we are, that it’s a sight that is equal to our own and just as fraught. I try not to overthink that too much because I’m simply not that bothered that they read as being from snapshots.
This work is very linked to my paternal grandmother who passed away last year. She was a Hungarian survivor of the Holocaust. Being so close to that history, a lot of what is so remarkable and gruesome about those years of her life has a different kind of urgency when held up against all the life she lived after and how it was comfortable and safe and ordinary. I know all of that meant a lot more to her than it might have to most. She spent almost the last 30 years of her life recounting her experience of WWII. As we enter a time where those witnesses are no longer here, I feel it’s urgent we reevaluate our relationship to that history and how we continue to carry it into the future. There are a lot of problems associated with trying to speak for that portion of her life and her real experience of it, from 1939 through her liberation.
For me, all of that is now a thing to be cherished and guarded because she and others did the difficult work of documenting and archiving it, and of facing it over and over again. I think it’s important that her presence continues to be felt but I can only speak with some authority about the triumph of her life that came after. That’s the portion I’m a part of. She knew better than anyone that surviving the war was all arbitrary and so it’s what came after that reflected more of who she was before and after. Going forward, I’d like to lean a bit more on my own point of view as opposed to strictly trying to be a filter for hers.
Pratt SCPS: As a recent Pratt Alumni, what part of the Pratt experience do you reflect on the most?
Hank Ehrenfried: My peers. Building a cohort was a crucial part of my decision to go back to school and pursue an MFA. Also, Linda Francis, my thesis advisor from my second year, who just retired. There were many times where I think she had greater confidence in my intellect than I did.
Pratt SCPS: Lastly, what message(s) do you hope to express to your audience through your art work?
Hank Ehrenfried: I recently got to hear Steve Reich’s “Different Trains” performed live, which was a piece of music he composed about riding trains coast to coast as a child to visit his divorced parents during WWII. Those train rides informed his upbringing and it wasn’t until adulthood that he realized, as a Jew, had he been in Europe, his childhood would have still been informed heavily by long train rides. And so while he feels this strong empathetic and urgent connection to this other experience, he also knows it’s not his to speak about with any kind of authority. “Different Trains” is the barrier he creates between his lived experience, his feelings of empathy and connection to a trauma, and reconciling the hopelessness of that position despite the depth and urgency of his feeling.
That’s the sort of barrier I want to highlight for a viewer in my own work, that you don’t have to imagine yourself where you weren’t or aren’t. The task of not imagining yourself someplace you were not or cannot possibly be as a means to understand is difficult but informative. The fraught nature of your present position is incredibly valuable in how you move the past through your present and into the future.
For more info about Hank and his exceptional work visit his website. Learn more about his upcoming exhibition at the SCPS Gallery.