School of Visual Arts presents “Detours,” an exhibition of thesis work by the MPS Digital Photography class of 2017. Curated by New York City gallerist and SVA faculty member Michael Foley, “Detours” is on view Saturday, October 14, through Saturday, November 11, at the SVA Gramercy Gallery, 209 East 23rd Street, New York City. Admission is free and open to the public.
As alumnus Michael Johnson states in the exhibition catalog introduction, “It will be clear from viewing this work that it is unique and personal. The projects are as diverse as the students that produced them. What may not be evident in the exhibition are the curious confluence of detours that brought this diverse student group together and their quality as individuals. In an age and time more conspicuous for divisiveness this group supported and encouraged each other with respect and consideration from the first awkward iterations and missteps to the final polished and beautifully executed projects.”
MPS Digital Photography Chair Katrin Eismann explains, “The creative process is full of twists, turns, false starts, dead ends and detours that all contribute to creating a compelling body of work. ‘Detours’ represents the journeys the 13 graduates each undertook to complete a personal and unique thesis project.”
Made at dusk, Farras Abdelnour’s minimalist images explore the meeting of an expansive sea and a boundless sky in “Dusk Dialogue at 40.582N, 73.818W.” The use of an infrared-sensitive camera reveals unexpected changes in tonality caused by wavelengths invisible to the eye.
Yifan Bai’s project “Unreachable Sky” represents how New York City’s monumental buildings dominate the environment. Framed by buildings on all four sides the patch of sky in the middle is the only hint of nature. The large-format images evoke a feeling of claustrophobia, symbolizing how far removed from nature city dwellers are.
“Solar Terms” is a series of still-life images based on China’s traditional 24 seasons, each of which is associated and celebrated with specific natural elements. Xuetong Cao used fruits, flowers and handmade papers to create delicate backlit collages to represent each season.
“One Thought Rises” is a photographic study of the spirituality of sensory experience. These images created by Zheheng Hong as he acoustically projected different religious faiths’ liturgical music onto water, creating ripple patterns through sound waves.
In “Age of Memory,” Michael Johnson explores ideas regarding beauty, aging and memory with men and women between the ages of 55 and 75. The project uses text with implied narrative, formal studio portraits and supporting contextual images of places and things designed to trigger associations with the viewer.
Jin Kyung Lee finds New York a fascinating city, but its urban density can be intimidating and overwhelming. As a newcomer, she learned to escape in the parks that provided solitude and allowed her to spend time alone. In viewing “Solitude,” she hopes others will discover the pleasure of time spent alone.
“Secret Power Invasion” by Ke Ma uses photography to give her peers superhuman powers, implementing special effects and post-production techniques to create painterly, symbolic representations of fantastical, superhuman abilities.
Brooklyn McTavish’s project “The Sum of the Some of Us” combines art, science and the questioning of social paradigms to address notions of ethnic purity and the self-righteousness and prejudice often associated with uninformed assumptions. We are more than the sum of the some of us.
“We Are Stories: Faces of New York Indie Theater” offers viewers an intimate look at the actors and stage artists who inhabit the small world of Off-Off Broadway. Kent Meister uses both studio portraiture and documentary photographs to explore how people develop a sense of identity within their community.
In “A Family of Women,” Anna Ogier-Bloomer uses video chat to generate photographs exploring the relationships between three generations of women in her family. The webcam acts as both a mirror and lens during conversations as she takes a closer look at her mother, sister and daughter through an intimate yet pixelated form.
The photographs in Sara Seferian’s “Suspension of Disbelief” explore the idea that each individual possesses an inner child. The project aims to show how many of us lose sight of our younger selves as we move through our daily lives. By placing fantastical objects and portals in everyday settings and imagining extraordinary events, Seferian offers a symbolic narrative about the rediscovery of one’s inner child.
“Dear Fubá” is a series of cinemagraphs (images containing an animated element) based on advice Ana Paula Tizzi has received from her father throughout the years. Each cinemagraph presents an anonymous figure in a stylized environment to create psychological impact; each loop expresses a specific piece of advice.
“Chinese in New York” is a series of environmental portraits of Chinese and Chinese American professionals living and working in New York City. In showing these accomplished members of the community, Shaoyi Zhang challenges longstanding stereotypes and prejudices about Chinese immigrants, in particular the notion that they are largely common, menial laborers.
The Master of Professional Studies in Digital Photography is an intensive one-year graduate degree program that addresses the digital image capture, workflow, exhibition printing, sound, video and visual storytelling skills that are required of professional photographers and photo educators at the vanguard of commercial, fine art, portrait and fashion photography practices. Students learn how to produce conceptually compelling and technically outstanding images and are ideally positioned to pursue gallery representation, editorial or commercial work, as well as high-end digital retouching and consulting careers.