News 2020-12-14T18:14:11+00:00

December 14, 2020

We made it! 

When the semester began in late August, we had no idea what was ahead. We had worked hard over the summer to prepare facilities and improve our ability to deliver online teaching. Still, we were entering an entirely unique situation – all we knew was that the strength of our community’s commitment to making it work would power us through.

We would never have chosen these circumstances, and of course, there have been many challenges. Community members have suffered hardships of many kinds, and we send our heartfelt condolences to all those who have lost loved ones over these past few months.

As the semester ends, perhaps we can reflect on what we have learned – not only in our shops and studios but in day-to-day life. Facing the demands of this moment, we learned the lesson that art-making frequently teaches us; you harness what you have, you muster the will, nurture the vision, and work hard to realize it. There are doubts and disappointments, but you go on. Then, you surprise yourself with what you are capable of and can be proud of all that you have achieved.

Both individually and collectively, this is what we did this fall. The strong, unique, and accomplished work shared by our BFA and MFA artists at end of semester reviews demonstrated as much. Congratulations to all our students on achieving such excellence in challenging circumstances.

Faculty and staff – you have been extraordinary in your care for and commitment to our students this fall, prioritizing supporting their education and well-being despite any tough personal circumstances you may have been facing. Thank you.

As we close out this most extraordinary of semesters, I am once again reminded of what a privilege it is to be a part of this incredible community.

Have a restful and well-deserved break, everyone; you have earned it!

Jane South | Chair, Fine Arts

NOTE: The newsletter is sent out bi-monthly during the semester on Mondays, so please send announcements at least two weeks in advance to fineartsnewsletter@pratt.edu and stay connected with us on Facebook Instagram and Twitter.

Cassandra Lousie Baker passed away suddenly on November 29, 2020.
Our sincere condolences to her family, friends, and loved ones.

Tribute to Cassandra Baker (MFA’09)
August 21, 1979 – November 29, 2020

by Rebecca Morgan (MFA’09)

Cassandra Baker was one of the very first people I met at Pratt Institute; there is rarely a memory of those halcyon days that isn’t inevitably and sweetly intertwined with her. Living in New York City and going to art school felt like a dream to me and Cassandra was a huge part of what made it all feel larger than life. When I think about the shape of what made those days so sweet, so much of it had to do with Cassandra’s warmth and confident sass; she was remarkable at creating a familial atmosphere of intimacy and kindness. It always felt good to be with her. 

Most of my fondest memories of graduate school consisted of the two of us holding court all over campus- especially on the circle benches outside of the Main Building. Often with a Bergen Iced coffee or Luigi’s Slice, we lived to gossip and people watch- critiquing the comings and goings on the quad, providing color commentary and hollering at and catcalling those we loved. Often we would roll around the boroughs in my Volkswagen- Cassandra as DJ, getting Chipolte and Pinkberry, decompressing and decoding our critiques. Our friend Melody Boone, always perfecting a trifecta of innocent trouble, remembers Cassandra “in her studio, hair wild, sitting cross-legged on the floor, barefoot and smiling, surrounded by photocopies, the smell of wintergreen oil strong in the air” and I do too- purely in her element. We loved every second of being in our ELJ studios and every part of Grad School.

Cassandra loved going out and staying in, getting dressed up, making things, and making an appearance.  The driving motto we lived by was “let’s do anything for the story of it later” Melody said being around her always “felt like an informal party” which is so incredibly true. She was magnetic in how she made people comfortable or diffuse themselves with laughter.  She had her own spiritual way of approaching the world; she often referred to dreams and the mysticism of the universe and it was always apparent in her work. She made her own codex of images and paintings that perfectly articulated the nebulousness of memory and the intangible navigation of it all. In the past few years, she had transitioned her paintings and drawings to art direction and film which translated beautifully; she was so happy to work and create in that arena. Her work had many layers- it was deep and moody, arrestingly fierce but congruently gauzy as gossamer, as if through a vaselined lens. She was all of those things in magical spirit- ethereally keeping you on your toes- sometimes in a secret whisper, other times a sharp cackle; I was always astonished at how clearly and gracefully she could articulate something as abstract as memory and spiritual essence. I believe it was because it was all one and the same; she was emotively enigmatic as her work- she was the work. 

So much of her personal and visual vernacular was shaped by her North Shore motherland of Beverly Massachusetts. She endlessly spoke of her love for her friends and family, especially her spirited Mammy which she loved to emulate (and wear M.A.C lipstick, shade “Rebel” in her honor) So much of her perspective came from her influential studies and valued mentorship at Montserrat College of Art. She romantically and colorfully recalled yarns of art school bad behavior with such a vibrant cast of characters that meant the most to her and that she was incredibly close with. Her relationship with her mentor, Rose Olsen, Emeritus faculty in Painting at Montserrat, was especially impactful and meaningful to her life as an artist, even recently showing their work together.  The conversations I’ve had with our beloved Pratt peers and faculty in the last few weeks all unanimously confer that the days we had together at Pratt Institute were truly the best days of our lives. The fellowship that we had together was truly deep and wide and Cassandra Louise Baker had everything to do with it. She enriched my life as a friend and artist as well as so many others that crossed paths with her at Pratt Institute and beyond. 

Thank you, Cassandra, for your love and light.  

For information and to send your condolences to her family: 
http://www.campbellfuneral.com/obituaries/obituary-listings

And you can view Cassandra’s work here: http://www.cassandralouisebaker.com/work.htm

Fall Student Work:

We have been documenting the amazing work happening in our classes with our faculty by our students, to view please click here.