Song of the Selkie
School of Visual Arts presents “The Song of the Selkie,” an exhibition of work by first-year MFA Illustration as Visual Essay students enrolled in the program’s Book Seminar course. Curated by faculty member and alumnus Viktor Koen, “The Song of the Selkie” will be on view Saturday, January 20, through Saturday, February 10, at the SVA Gramercy Gallery, 209 East 23rd Street, New York City.
This year’s short story selection, “Song of the Selkie,” by award-winning author Gina Ochsner, weaves an intricate contemporary myth around characters departing on the pursuit of happiness, salvation and existential closure. The artists took many unique turns as they each created their own series of illustrations describing, evoking or hinting at the story and its themes. Themes including the Selkie legend, motherhood, love and loss, the existence and role of divine beings, struggling with one’s own body image, coming of age and coming undone all functioned as springboards to develop structured bodies of images without limitation in concept, medium or form.
Ochsner’s small cast of well-crafted characters—a peculiar family unit, obsessed with the enigmatic loss of a mother and willingly stranded on a mysterious and isolated lighthouse island—provide a plethora of opportunities for interpretation, extrapolation and exaggeration, as well as opportunities for coherent linear visual storytelling, combined with text or in wordless form.
The varied work the students have produced includes straightforward tellings of the story in comic-book form, religious posters, etchings, dream journals, pop-up books, psychological portraits and animated transformations. Taken in together, they form an esoteric dialog that traces the origins of our psyche in physical and metaphysical ways.
The featured artists are Marc Aquino-Michaels, Revati Bose, Miranda Bruce, Nan Cao, Ellen Dubreuil, Liam Eisenberg, Sahar Ghanbari, Juliet Goodman, Yiheng Lou, Courtney Menard, Mari Gabi Messina, Vidhya Nagarajan, Christina Rycz, Mojo Wang, Chenlu Wei, Matt Williams, Meijia Xu, Benjamin Yu and Yihui Yuan.