The Masters Series: Roz Chast
School of Visual Arts will honor illustrator Roz Chast with the 30th annual Masters Series Award and Exhibition. “The Masters Series: Roz Chast” will be a comprehensive retrospective of her celebrated career and include never-before-seen cartooning and illustration work, selections from her more than 20 books, a new hand-drawn mural, notebooks Chast kept in high school, embroideries, hooked rugs and hand-dyed pysanky, or Ukrainian-style Easter eggs. The exhibition will be on view from November 17 through December 15, 2018 at the SVA Chelsea Gallery, 601 West 26th Street, 15th floor, New York City. Admission is free and open to the public.
Chast’s work has appeared in numerous magazines through the years, including The Village Voice, National Lampoon, Scientific American, Harvard Business Review, Redbook and Mother Jones, but she is most closely associated with The New Yorker. In addition to hundreds of cartoons and illustrated essays, she has created some 10 covers for the publication, and her nervous sense of humor and energetic style has become intrinsic to its identity.
Chast’s interest in drawing started when she was a young child growing up in Brooklyn, where she learned to use art as a way to make sense of an anxiety-inducing world. She once told an interviewer, “On every level I feel like anything horrible can happen at any moment.” Early on in her career, her nervousness even found expression in her chosen scale. “I used to work really tiny,” she says. “I thought if I worked small, nobody would mind me that much. If I take up as little space as possible, then everything will be okay, nobody will get mad at me.”
Chast attended the Rhode Island School of Design, where she studied painting. After graduating in 1977 she returned to New York City, where she quickly established her cartooning career. She was first published in Christopher Street, a gay men’s magazine she found one night on the subway, and her first New Yorker cartoon was published in the following year.
In addition to collections of her New Yorker cartoons, Chast has written and illustrated a range of books. Her latest, Going Into Town: A Love Letter to New York (2017), a personalized travel guide to New York City that began as a going-away present to her youngest child, who was moving from the family’s home in Connecticut to attend SVA. Her other books include the alphabetized inventory What I Hate: From A to Z (2011); children’s books like Around the Clock! (2015) and Too Busy Marco (2010); and collaborations with fellow New Yorker contributor Calvin Trillin (2016’s No Fair! No Fair! And Other Jolly Poems of Childhood) and songwriter Stephin Merritt (2014’s 101 Two-Letter Words). Her first memoir, Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?, was released in 2014. A warts-and-all account of her relationship with her elderly parents in their final years, it went on to become a best seller and win a National Book Critics Circle Award. It was also shortlisted for a National Book Award.
Chast’s many distinctions include the Heinz Award for Arts and Humanities as well as honorary doctorates from Dartmouth College, Pratt Institute and Lesley University (formerly the Art Institute of Boston). Lately her work has been the subject of a travelling exhibition that started in 2015 with the Norman Rockwell Museum’s presentation of “Roz Chast: Cartoon Memoirs,” curated by the museum’s deputy director and chief curator (and SVA alumnus) Stephanie Plunkett. The exhibition has since traveled to the Museum of the City of New York and the Contemporary Jewish Museum, in San Francisco. Plunkett and the Norman Rockwell Museum are partnering with SVA to present Chast’s Masters Series show.
In addition to the exhibition, SVA will host an artist’s talk with Chast on Wednesday, November 28, 7:00 – 9:00pm, at the SVA Theatre, 333 West 23rd Street, and an opening reception will be held at the gallery on Thursday, November 29, 6:00 – 8:00pm. All events are free and open to the public.
In 1988, SVA founder Silas H. Rhodes instituted SVA’s Masters Series, an award and exhibition honoring great visual communicators of our time. Although the achievements of many groundbreaking designers, illustrators, art directors and photographers are known to and lauded by their colleagues, their names often go unrecognized by the general public. The Masters Series brings greater exposure to those whose influence has been felt strongly and by many, yet without widespread recognition.
Masters Series laureates are Marshall Arisman, Saul Bass, R.O. Blechman, Ivan Chermayeff, Seymour Chwast, Paul Davis, Lou Dorfsman, Heinz Edelmann, Jules Feiffer, Louise Fili, Shigeo Fukuda, Tom Geismar, Milton Glaser, April Greiman, Steven Heller, George Lois, Mary Ellen Mark, Ed McCabe, James McMullan, Duane Michals, Christoph Niemann, Tony Palladino, Paula Scher, Edward Sorel, Deborah Sussman, George Tscherny, Paul Rand and Massimo Vignelli.
Artnet, "Editors’ Picks: 17 Things Not to Miss in New York’s Art World This Week," November 26, 2018
The New York Times, "Roz Chast in Full View (Body Scan Included)," November 27, 2018
The New Criterion, "The Critic's Notebook," December 3, 2018