Penelope Umbrico in conversation with Lyle Rexer

Accomplished writer, curator, art critic and MFA Photo/ Video faculty member Lyle Rexer had the chance to sit down with fellow faculty member and artist Penelope Umbrico to discuss Umbrico's work in the upcoming November/ December issue of "Photograph Magazine." As Rexer states, "Penelope Umbrico is that rare artist who has built a significant reputation largely through public commissions and installations at institutions from the Musee des Beaux Arts in Le Locle, Switzerland, to New York City's Grand Central Station.

Umbrico currently has two works on display simultaneously around New York. First, her wall installation in the exhibition Anna Atkins Refracted is part of the New York Public Library's 175th-year celebration of the English cyanotypist (through January 6). Lastly, her installation Monument, a collection of, among other elements, disassembled television screens, is featured at BRIC Media House, the Brooklyn art and performance space (November 29- January 20)."

 Installation view of Umbrico’s work

Installation view of Umbrico’s work

Penelope Umbrico offers a radical reinterpretation of everyday consumer and vernacular images. She works “within the virtual world of consumer marketing and social media, traveling through the relentless flow of seductive images, objects, and information that surrounds us, searching for decisive moments—but in these worlds, decisive moments are cultural absurdities," finding these moments in the pages of consumer product mail-order catalogs, travel and leisure brochures; and websites like Craigslist, EBay, and Flickr."

As Umbrico states in her interview with Rexer, "The internet changed everything. For one, it gave me access to unlimited source material, and the screen became my studio, in a sense. And living and working through the screen made it become part of what the work is about."

For the full interview, visit Photograph Magazine for the November/December issue.

Fall Salon 2018 Recap

This year's Fall Salon was a great success and we are so pleased to share some highlights with you. Included among the stellar photographic works were several large-scale installations, a screening of short films, works in interactive video, sculptural elements, sound experiments, and performances.

If you missed us this Fall, be sure to stop by in the Spring for what is sure to be another successful event. In the meantime, enjoy the following recap of our 2018 Fall Salon!

I. Preparation

  Kyle Henderson  installing his work.

Kyle Henderson installing his work.

 All set up and ready for the evening!

All set up and ready for the evening!

 Snacks aplenty.

Snacks aplenty.


II. The Main Event

 Thesis students  Paul Simon  and Kyle Henderson discuss Simon’s work.

Thesis students Paul Simon and Kyle Henderson discuss Simon’s work.

  Wanki Min  standing beside a consortium of work from his ongoing series.

Wanki Min standing beside a consortium of work from his ongoing series.

  Heather Olker  and guest enjoying her first Fall Salon.

Heather Olker and guest enjoying her first Fall Salon.

 Installation view of  Brianna Calello ’s work.

Installation view of Brianna Calello’s work.

 Po Han Huang explores photography through the use of social media.

Po Han Huang explores photography through the use of social media.

  Sara Arno  takes a break with her work.

Sara Arno takes a break with her work.

  Petros Lales  presents his 3D modeled organelles to a fellow student.

Petros Lales presents his 3D modeled organelles to a fellow student.

 Explorations from Joshua Spector

Explorations from Joshua Spector

 Beautiful sculptural works by thesis student  Kyle Henderson

Beautiful sculptural works by thesis student Kyle Henderson

 New student  Terrance Purdy  and friends with his selection of portraiture works.

New student Terrance Purdy and friends with his selection of portraiture works.

 Book mockup from thesis student Angie Yoon Ji Nam

Book mockup from thesis student Angie Yoon Ji Nam

 Thesis student  Brett Henrikson  with textiles based on his images.

Thesis student Brett Henrikson with textiles based on his images.

 New student,  Hyemi Kim , poses for the camera.

New student, Hyemi Kim, poses for the camera.

 A guest gazes at the works of thesis student David Cade.

A guest gazes at the works of thesis student David Cade.

  Yi Hsuan Lai  with her installation at Fall Salon. Details below.

Yi Hsuan Lai with her installation at Fall Salon. Details below.

 Thesis student Collin  Xueqing Yin  mimics the subject of display.

Thesis student Collin Xueqing Yin mimics the subject of display.

 New student,  Fernando Sancho  and guest

New student, Fernando Sancho and guest

  Jonathan Ellis  beside his stunning landscapes.

Jonathan Ellis beside his stunning landscapes.

 Yeshan Zhang beside her documentary portraiture.

Yeshan Zhang beside her documentary portraiture.

Many thanks to everyone who came by and lent their time and support to our talented student body. Your presence and engaging conversations was much appreciated and added to the success of our 2018 Fall Salon. We hope to see you again in the Spring for another edition of MFA Photo, Video, & Related Media’s Salon!


Yoav Friedlander solo exhibition ‘‘After the Fall’’ at Carrie Able Gallery

Yoav Friedlander, MFA Photo/Video alumni, presents a solo exhibition at the Carrie Able Gallery this month on Wednesday Nov. 14.

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Speaking on his images, Friedlander says:

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"Ever since I can remember it was photographs who introduced me to and informed me of my personal and collective past or present realities that are inaccessible or out of reach. Photographs had visually mapped reality. A broken promise we made to ourselves looking up to the medium as a neutral reflection of what visibly exists. We treat photographs as hard evidence, and to the extent that we find ourselves considering what is real to be different from how it should be according to its own image. Since the inception of photography, reality gradually became augmented by its own reflection. I am focusing my work at this point of friction."

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Yoav Friedlander is a miniature scale model fine artist and photographer. Born 1985 in Israel, Yoav received his BA in Photographic Communications from Hadassah Academic College Jerusalem in 2011, and graduated with an MFA in Photography Video and Related media from the School of Visual Arts NYC in 2014.

Friedlander has shown work at The Artists' House, Jerusalem, The Wassaic Project, N.Y., and The Venice Bienniale, among numerous other galleries, worldwide. He is also the co-founder of Float Photo Magazine.

For more information about Friedlander's upcoming solo exhibition, visit the event page or RSVP here.

Department chair Charles H. Traub's new book "Taradiddle" featured in New York Times


In a recent article on The New York Times MFA Photo/Video Chair Charles H. Traub's new book "Taradddle" was highlighted and examined in a thoughful piece by writer Rena Silverman. The article and interview includes selections from the body of work. As Silverman notes:

"Photography seems like a truthful medium. Photographs are used for scientific and forensic evidence for their supposed truthfulness. Even Edgar Allan Poe thought daguerreotypes disclosed “a more absolute truth, a more perfect identity of aspect with the thing represented.”

 Bronze Horseman, St. Petersburg, Russia, 2003

Bronze Horseman, St. Petersburg, Russia, 2003

Traub, himself, goes on to say of the work:


“A taradiddle is by definition a petty lie, a little falsehood or trifling told often to amuse or embellish a story,” he said. “As our world is full of them, seen and witnessed through advertising, P.R., propaganda, flirtations, staged events and presentations of all sorts, I simply came to the conclusion that even the straightest of photographs made in real-world witness was also such.”

 Tavern on the Green, Central Park, NYC, 2006Credit

Tavern on the Green, Central Park, NYC, 2006Credit

Silverman goes on to assert:

"Mr. Traub’s taradiddles appear not just within the layers of his frame but in his careful combination of images afterward, a practice similar to that of Nathan Lyons, who thought bringing two photos together on a spread created an entirely different third meaning. Using scale, depth of field, and ironic pairings of subjects, Mr. Traub creates a whimsical world."

To take a closer look at the body of work, please click here.

Alice Interviews RE: Art Show

Max Lee ‘16 and Erin Davis ‘16 Interview by Liz Zito ‘15 Shot by: Carla Carvalho ‘19, Livia Di Lucia ‘19, and Rebecca Krasnik ‘18

The number one topic of hair pulling conversation amongst artists living in New York City is space, or rather, the lack thereof. It was my biggest sacrifice when moving to this metropolis, an uneven balance of ideas without the environment for execution. While thousands of creatives nervously complain as they compete for studio programs and grants, Max Lee and Erin Davis took matters into their own hands. With bonded values and similar inspirations, they invented their own theoretical art space, RE: Art Show, a monthly, rent free happening that travels within the confines of the Pfizer building located on Flushing Ave in Brooklyn. With a backdrop of massive mixing tanks, the defunct pharmaceutical plant has become an ever-evolving site-specific stage for installations, performances, sculptures, photographs, and much more, taking on emerging artists that yearn for a spot outside their bedroom studios to execute their ideas. I’ve showed developing projects with RE: Art Show three times and introduced Max and Erin to numerous artists with similar goals. Over the years, RE: Art Show has experienced as many growing pains as successes. Honest, almost to a fault, Max and Erin strive to maintain an authentic artist run organization, allowing the maker to control all the decisions of their vision and execution, propelling their careers forward. It is rare to find this type of support in any city, reminiscent of 1980’s DIY art culture, it is a significant fact that so many artists and art supporters find this formula compelling in 2018.

Graduating from the School of Visual Arts, MFA Photography, Video, and Related Media in 2016, Max Lee and Erin Davis have been organizing RE: Art Shows since their graduation, that would make 20 plus iterations. Their shows have been written up in numerous publications including Huffington Post, Forbes, Art F City, Hyperallergic and many more. I sat down with Max and Erin, captured by a crew of current graduate students, and discussed the RE: Art Show journey in a series of short videos I have edited for Alice Magazine. As I re-watch the material over and over in my editing station, I am hit with a sense of comforting validation, that above all else, a sense of support and community will always remain the strongest component to any city or school, but especially to those emerging artists from SVA MFA Photo, Video, and Related Media in New York City. I hope you enjoy! -Liz Zito

Fraenkel Gallery presents first West Coast exhibition of Wardell Milan

Fraenkel Gallery in San Francisco proud to present the first West Coast exhibition of New York-based artist and MFA Photo/Video faculty member Wardell Milan. Milan's work will be exhibited January 3 – February 16th, 2019 with an opening reception to take place on Saturday, January 5th. On view will be new work by Milan in mixed media, photo-collage, drawing and painting, including a number of large-scale works incorporating cut-and-collaged photographs.

 Wardell Milan,  Mortal Men , 2018

Wardell Milan, Mortal Men, 2018

Throughout his practice, Wardell Milan sustains a thoughtful inquiry into the nature of beauty and the unconscious, touching on topics such as body modification and gender performance.

From a recent group of significant works on paper, two approximately six- by eight-foot drawings (both 2018) present dynamic groups of enigmatic individuals cast within idyllic scenery, which the artist animates with an architectural swirl of geometric patterning. In making these works, Milan also takes a journey through the history of photography – invoking Henri Cartier-Bresson, Nobuyoshi Araki, Robert Mapplethorpe, and others – seeking out compositional ideas and physiognomic cues in an array of iconic imagery.

 Wardell Milan,  Romantic Sunset , 2017

Wardell Milan, Romantic Sunset, 2017

Works by the artist may be found in the collections of The Art Institute of Chicago; Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago; Denver Art Museum; Brooklyn Museum, New York; Hessel Museum of Art, Bard College, New York; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Morgan Library & Museum, New York; The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; UBS Art Collection; Daniel & Florence Guerlain Contemporary Art Foundation, Paris; Hall Art Foundation; and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Johnnie Chatman '18

i forgot where we were...

Excerpt from a thesis by Johnnie Chatman

  Grand Canyon , 2017

Grand Canyon, 2017

I Forgot Where We Were... uses constructs and idioms of the West and western landscape photography as allegorical elements to facilitate a conversation on black identity as it reconfigures itself against media, historical, and trans-global narratives. Vantage points around the West act as intersectional beacons for explorations of culture, history and consumerism, as rich histories are compressed into marketable cultural capital.

  Great Sand (South), 2017

Great Sand (South), 2017

In pursuing this route my project explores the ambiguity and multiplicity of blackness oscillating between a space of romance and critique, objective research and personal narrative. The dialogue produced between what is said and what is not - creates meaning that is as complicated as it subtle, ironic or conflicting. Through this, it is never assured that the act of signifying will yield for the audience the desired payoff. Representation of the black body in the context of the American West - that has too often been, as Neil Campbell describes, defined by binary and reductionist grids of thought and image when, in fact, it’s more than geography, it is a complex, unstable signifier that has been given meaning by those who have lived within it, passed through it, conquered it, settled, farmed, militarized, urbanized, and dreamed it.

  Arches , 2017

Arches, 2017

From the choice of black and white self portraits, to the clothing and posture of the body, the body of work reminds us of the constructed-ness of the real, the fact that a thing is being represented. The work aims to position a conversation outside of the restricted understanding of black expression through the limitations and expectations of outward expression and resistance. With the creation of an ambiguous space, a seemingly romantic fascination is met with an examination of the past and present through metaphorical representations of history, time and the landscape.

  Rhyolite , 2017

Rhyolite, 2017

As writer Michael Johnson once questioned,

> The American West with its landscapes that invite identification but do not offer definition and with its absence of black communities, provides a particularly appropriate setting for a post-soul interrogation of black identity. The walls of the gorge are as concrete as black people and white people, but what if one’s sense of self falls in the space between these concrete defining categories? Even if a vast space of possible identities exists between these two positions, how does one establish a definable and stable sense of self in the face of such vastness?

*To see more of his work, please visit*

"I Can Help Who's Next:" alumni Natan Dvir's work featured in New York Times

MFA Photo/Video alumni Natan Dvir, who moved to New York from Israel in 2008, is featured the New York Times for his photo essay on queues around the city. As the featured article states, Dvir "was waiting amid a crowd at a bus stop, and when the bus pulled up, everyone magically took positions in line, as if they had choreographed it in advance."

Dvir goes on to add: “That sounds normal, right?” he said. “Not in Israel. In Israel, everybody would rush to the bus door. It’s survival of the fittest. I found it so shocking that I almost missed the bus. How did everybody know where to stand? In most of the world, that doesn’t happen.”


For his work, Dvir "found lines at bus stations, restaurants, bathrooms and outside boutiques offering limited-edition sneakers, where posting photos of the line on Instagram was half the fun. Lines were subcultures unto themselves. The lines in Midtown Manhattan were different from those in Flushing, Queens; the lines for Cronuts were different from those outside the Human Resources Administration.

“People stand in line because it’s cool, or because they’re part of a community,” Dvir said. “Being in the line is a huge part of the experience, if not the main part of the experience.”

Natan Dvir is a photographer who focuses on the human aspects of cultural, social and political issues. He received his MBA from Tel Aviv University and his MFA in Photography from the School of Visual Arts (NY), after which he became an adjunct faculty member at the International Center of Photography (ICP). Based in New York he photographs around the world represented by Polaris Images photo agency and Anastasia Photo gallery.

To view the article in its entirety, visit the New York Times' website. To see more of Natan Dvir's work, please follow the link provided.

Recent acquisition and highlights from Lissa Rivera

MFA Photo/Video alum Lissa Rivera's work "Study With Chairs" was recently added to the Davis Museum at Wellsley College's collection. The photograph acquired by the Davis Museum at Wellesley College is part of Rivera's series "Beautiful Boy." "Study With Chairs" also graces a large billboard on Los Angeles' Hollywood Boulevard until October 31, 2018. This display of Rivera's work was done in collaboration with The Billboard Creative, an organization which "connects artists with mass audiences on the streets of LA, bringing art into the daily routines of hundreds of thousands of Angelenos."

 Lissa Rivera,  “Study with Chairs”

Lissa Rivera, “Study with Chairs”

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Rivera's work is also featured in "A History of Photography: Selections from the Museum's Collection" at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston until February of 2019. This installation places Rivera alongside other influential image-makers such as Jo Ann Callis, James Casebere, Mitch Epstein, Nan Goldin, Alexander Gardner, László Moholy-Nagy, Ueda Shoji, Carleton E. Watkins, and Eugène Atget.

Upcoming this winter, Rivera will be featured in a solo exhibition "Lissa Rivera: Beautiful Boy" at Warner Gallery of the Millbrook School. A reception for the exhibition will take place January 11, 2019 "Beautiful Boy" will be on view from January–April, 2019.

To learn more about Lissa Rivera's projects, watch this short documentary produced in tandem with the Billboard Creative.

Eva & Franco Mattes' "Riccardo Uncut" on view through The Whitney Museum

For Riccardo Uncut, MFA Photo/Video faculty and renown artists Eva and Franco Mattes posted a call on social media, offering to buy someone's phone for $1,000 in order to turn the photo and video contents into an art project—an uncut and uncensored portrait of someone's life. The project is currently on view at The Whitney Museum's online database.

 still from  Riccardo Uncut

still from Riccardo Uncut

Accessible to the public as a customized, chronological slideshow, Riccardo Uncut gives viewers a unique glimpse into the personal life of Riccardo, the chosen applicant. The archive consists of approximately 3,000 images taken between 2004–2017 that include documentation of travels and vacations, friends and family, partners and sexual desire, daily life at home, office dynamics, food, art, architecture, and artistic endeavors.

Riccardo Uncut was inspired by the questions, “How do we construct our digital memory?” and “Is there still such a thing as a ‘private photo?’” Social media create a perfect arena for re-creating the self as a lifestyle brand, performing a daily me, an idealized version of ourselves. With Riccardo Uncut the Mattes investigate where one might find authenticity in self-representation and an unedited version of the self.

Infamous Italian artist duo Eva and Franco Mattes are best known for their subversive and innovative new media work, which exposes various ethical and political ramifications of the Internet as both reality and theory. Often going by the pseudonym, they are hackers, activists, and some of the originators of Net Art. Large scale projects include Stolen Pieces, in which the Mattes’ stole fragments from fifty famous artworks over the course of two years and displayed them in a glass cabinet, Darko Maver, a fictionalized radical Serbian artist with gruesome work, and Portraits, which took place within the virtual computer game Second Life. Deeply committed to the concept of audience experience and interaction, the Mattes’ continue to explore the dark quality of human nature in the realm of online media.

To hear the Mattes' speak about Riccardo Uncut and for a short preview of the work, please watch the video below: