Ink Plots: The Tradition of the Graphic Novel at SVA
School of Visual Arts presents “Ink Plots: The Tradition of the Graphic Novel at SVA,” an exhibition of original drawings, books, prints and animation by over 100 artists. “Ink Plots” traces the development of sequential art over four decades with selections by SVA faculty members and showcases the work of SVA alumni who are pushing the boundaries of the graphic novel today. “Ink Plots” is curated by Marshall Arisman, chair of the MFA Illustration as Visual Essay Department, and Thomas Woodruff, chair of the BFA Illustration and Cartooning Department. The exhibition will be on view at the Visual Arts Gallery, 601 West 26 Street, 15th floor, New York City, from October 8 – November 6, 2010. A reception will be held on Thursday, October 14 from 5:30 – 7pm.
“‘Ink Plots’ pays tribute to some of the most important artists responsible for the invention and development of the graphic novel,” says co-curator Arisman. “The years many of these artists spent teaching at SVA has greatly influenced the present generation of graphic novelists.”
Participating current and former SVA faculty members include Sal Amendola, R. O. Blechman, Sue Coe, Will Eisner, Tom Gill, Edward Gorey, Burne Hogarth, Klaus Janson, Frances Jetter, Ben Katchor, Peter Kuper, Harvey Kurtzman, Keith Mayerson, David Mazzucchelli, Jerry Moriarty, Mark Newgarden, Gary Panter, Jerry Robinson, David Sandlin, Walter Simonson and Art Spiegelman.
“We’re in the midst of the new platinum age for sequential art,” says Woodruff, co-curator of the exhibition. “Using multicultural influences and ambitious new formats, SVA alumni are expanding the boundaries of the graphic novel to include traditional and experimental adult-themed long-format works, diarist comics, fantasy epics, and cutting edge examples of ‘Amerimanga’ the hybridized East-West form taking hold in our cartooning canon.”
Participating SVA alumni include Russell Braun, Sungyoon Choi, Erik Craddock, Pascal Dizin, Nathan Fox, June Kim, Bill Plympton, Nate Powell, Lauren Redniss, Dash Shaw, Koren Shadmi, Raina Telgemeier, Michael Townsend, Steve Uy and Sara Varon, among others. A full list of participating SVA alumni can be found below.
Comics legend Will Eisner is often credited with coining the term “graphic novel” with his 1978 work, A Contract with God, which tells four related stories of Jewish immigrant life in 1930s New York. A critical and commercial success, Eisner’s landmark work, along with the popular satire of Harvey Kurtzman’s Mad magazine and Burne Hogarth’s pioneering Tarzan of the Apes (1972), established a new genre of literature, one that embraced the comic format while telling mature, complex stories. In 1986, graphic novels entered the mainstream with the publication of Art Spiegelman's Pulitzer Prize-winning Maus.
From the psychedelic experimentations of Dash Shaw’s high school melodrama Bodyworld (2010) to the teen nightmares Raina Telgemeier poignantly details in her fictionalized memoir Smile (2010), the graphic novel has continued to challenge conventional storytelling in form and content. The genre’s popularity has also grown exponentially in the past 40 years, allowing artists and publishers to take greater risks. As seen in the 9/11 memoir American Widow (2008), illustrated by Sungyoon Choi, or in Nate Powell’s Eisner award-winning exploration of mental illness, Swallow Me Whole (2008), the limits of the graphic novel are still being tested.