School of Visual Arts presents “Social Senses,” an exhibition of photography, sculpture and drawings by current students and recent alumni featuring works that critique contemporary culture. Curated by Richard Brooks, assistant director of SVA Galleries, the exhibition will be on view Tuesday, August 12, through Saturday, September 13, at the SVA Gramercy Gallery, 209 East 23rd Street, New York City.
Melanie Aronson (MFA 2014 Social Documentary Film) presents urban street photographs taken with her iPhone. Shot in an unembellished documentary style, with an exceptional eye for striking compositions, her black-and-white snapshots celebrate intimate, ephemeral human moments that often go unnoticed.
In his monumental photographic mural Post-War Trends and Currents MFA Photography, Video and Related Media student Oliver David creates a visual timeline from 1950 to the present, juxtaposing two mass-market aesthetics: the history of photojournalism and the history of predicted color trends for women’s fashion. Using horizontal bands of each year’s “predicted color” as a background, the artist weaves in small black-and-white reproductions of every photograph that won the World Press Photo Award during this period. By placing jarring documentary images of suffering within a sea of soft, soothing colors, the artist emphasizes the contrast between consumption and survival.
Juniper Fleming (BFA 2014 Photography) exhibits a series of large-scale photographs critiquing the portrayal of women in traditional European painting. The artist inserts portraits of contemporary sex workers into images of recognized masterpieces, and then selectively hand colors these black-and-white prints with oil paint to highlight how the female body has stereotypically been presented in Western culture.
In his haunting, large color photographs of abandoned architectural interiors Adriano Hultmann (MPS 2014 Digital Photography) documents the result of socioeconomic forces that turn once productive buildings into decaying, rusted structures. With a keen eye for striking juxtaposition, the artist’s enigmatic compositions encourage viewers to create their own narratives about how our culture generates such conditions.
BFA Photography student Marilena Stavrakidi’s photo-collages address domestic violence and consumer culture. Beginning with pictures of beauty magazine models, the artist superimposes the portrait of a young Afghan woman who protested her husband’s physical abuse by attempting self-immolation. For the patient viewer, the enigmatic layers of these combined images produce disturbing portraits that evoke Cubism and bring into stark relief the contrasting worlds in which women live.
MFA Fine Arts student KC Tidemand’s sculptures employ common materials such as wood, wire and electrical components to create visual networks that combine organic and mechanical themes. In her artworks, what could be a wooden cityscape simultaneously evokes a microscopic computer chip, and similarly, a construction of found objects recalls ancient cliff dwellings.
“Little Red Moon” by Benjamin Wheatley (MFA 2014 Illustration as Visual Essay) is a series of narrative images inspired by Russia’s launch of the first Earth satellite Sputnik 1 and the global reaction to this event. Using a delicate line and ink wash throughout, the artist’s drawings trace the satellite’s story, highlighting the successful launch, its brief time orbiting Earth and its disintegration upon reentry.