Tiffany Smith: Redefining Incarceration Through the Arts

MFA Photography, Video and Related Media alum, Tiffany Smith is utilizing art to explore notions of displacement and identity through collaborative experience. One of Smith's latest projects takes place at Recess Assembly, an artist-led program designed as an alternative to incarceration for teens and young adults who are caught up in the justice system.

In a recent interview published through SVA's ContinuED newsletter, Smith says:

"I worked with the youth more directly and over a longer period of time than I have in the past. I was able to get to know them more personally and develop closer bonds...The impact for a young person seeing someone who looks like them, who understands the circumstances they've come from, and exemplifies how to successfully sustain a career as an artist is immeasurable and increasingly necessary."

 Installation view of Tiffany Smith’s “A Moment in the Sun”

Installation view of Tiffany Smith’s “A Moment in the Sun”

Tiffany Smith is an interdisciplinary artist from the Caribbean diaspora who works with photography, video, installation, and design to create photographic portraits, site responsive installations, user engaged experiences, and assemblages focused on identity, representation, cultural ambiguity, and displacement. Using plant matter, design and home decor elements, pattern and costuming as cultural signifiers, visual references from an array of multi-cultural influences, derived from her upbringing between Miami, Florida, Nassau, Bahamas, and Jamaica inform images and installations that examine their subject’s individual narratives. Smith’s constructed temporary habitats serve to articulate cultural subjectivities that oscillate between the roles of visitor and native, mirroring the ambiguous cultural space that her subjects occupy. Smith’s practice centers on what forms and defines communities of people color, in particular; how they are identified and represented, and how they endure.

To view the full interview with Smith, visit ContinED online.

 Portrait of Recess Assembly team during public family photo day (credit: Tiffany Smith)

Portrait of Recess Assembly team during public family photo day (credit: Tiffany Smith)

Cynthia Bittenfield: Current Shows and Exhibitions

On view at at the Wassaic Project until Saturday Sept. 22, Change of State features SVA MFA Photo, Video and Related Media alumnus Cynthia Bittenfield. The exhibit showcases art created during a time in which many people in our country have felt divided, angry, vindicated, or confused — and the works reflect these changes and challenges. Find elements of nostalgia, fantasy, failure, hope, fear, love, anger, and chaos. Consider who you are, not the groups you identify with, and attempt to welcome each artist's intentions without your own biases. While not all of the works are political in the traditional sense, it is worth considering the charged political climate in which they have been created and the rural community in which they are being viewed. Visit the Wassaic Project for more information about the show.

 “K.P.” by: Cynthia Bittenfield

“K.P.” by: Cynthia Bittenfield

Also on view by Bittenfield this month, World War II Revisited combines images from her father’s scrapbook with images taken at the 60th anniversary of the D-Day invasion in Normandy. The combination of his playful, innocent musings of daily life in basic training with the remnants and aftermath of war creates a powerful statement of the harsh reality of war and the devastating loss.

World War II Revisted is available for viewing Mon, Wed, and Fri from 11 am- 7 pm at The PIT Loft.

 “Boys Will Be Boys” by: Cynthia Bittenfield

“Boys Will Be Boys” by: Cynthia Bittenfield

Cynthia Bittenfield pursues projects that shed light on the human cost of war whether dealing with the issue of post-traumatic stress, revisiting battlefields and sites of atrocity, or documenting life on the home front. The discovery of her father’s wartime scrapbook after he died started her in this new direction. The photo album and family archive has also figured prominently in her latest portrait project, an homage to her mother’s life and death.

The Vernacular of Landscape: Opening Reception

From Sept. 14-Oct. 19, Usagi NY hosts The Vernacular of Landscape, a survey of contemporary landscape photography curated by Subjectively Objective founder Noah Waldeck and co-edited by SVA alumni Dana Stirling and Yoav Friedlander of Float Photo Magazine.

The exhibit will showcase images from 58 artists from around the world, including:

Rob Stephenson, Diana Nygren, Patrick Warner, Tim Dechent, Lewis Ableidinger, Nathanial Schmidt, Emmanuel Monzon, Roger Grasas, Michael Wriston, Nick Zukauskas, Daniel George, Adrien Blondel, Ivan Echevarria, John Sanderson, Paul Sisson, Sandro Katalina, Brooks Geenen, James Doyle, Christiaan Kritzinger, Raul Guillermo, Tod Kapke, Cody Schlabaugh, Cristian Ordonez, Balint Alovits, Pratya Jankong, Danny Rowton, FeiFan Zhang, Reid Elem, Anthony Onesta, Joshua Oldfield, Ryan Parker, Maxime Taillez, Balazs Fromm, Julian Reid, Franck Doussot, Dineke Versluis, Irene Tondelli, Cody Bratt, Matthew Portch, Leonardo Magrelli, Christian Kondic, Solange Adum-Abdala, Kyle Everett Smith, Berber Theunissen, Dan Mariner, Michael Garbutt, Fred Guillaud, Mattia Paladini, Yorgos Efthymiadis, Stephen Berry, Lawrence Braun, Will Cox, Morgane Erpicum, Liam McMillan, Pol Viladoms, Jeff Phillips, Chris Bennett & Chris Round.

The opening reception will take place at Usagi NY art space September 14, 2018 7-9PM; 163 Plymouth St, Brooklyn, New York.

For more information, or to RSVP, please visit the event's page

 Photo: Irene Tondelli

Photo: Irene Tondelli

Robert Bowen artist talk about Bioscleave House

Faculty member and artist Robert Bowen will be participating in an artist talk about the Bioscleave House with Bryan Whitney and Don Byrd.

When artists Shusako Arakawa and Madeline Gins set out to construct their “Lifespan Extending Villa,” Bioscleave House, artist Robert Bowen was inspired by their one-of-a-kind construction, to create his experimental documentary, The Long Island House. “Imagine a house that is an abstracted three-dimensional diagram of what a house might be,” Bowen writes. “Bioscleave is a perceptual research station built to study the relationship of the body to built architectural spaces.”

Bowen will discuss his work and Bioscleave’s lure of immortality with photographer and artist Bryan Whitney, whose work focuses on how we perceive and experience real space and ourselves, and cultural critic Don Byrd.

The event will take place on September 26th at 6:30. Program is free, but advance registration is recommended. Please click here to find out more information.

  Images via Madeline Gins and Arakaw

Images via Madeline Gins and Arakaw

Robert Bowen is a New York based multimedia artist, college professor (School of Visual Arts; MFA Photo/ Video, and MFA Computer Art) and writer. 

Alums Adam Cable and Dodo Xinyu Zhang featured in Hyperallergic!

Congratulations to 2017 MFA Photo, Video and Related Media alum Adam Cable on his curatorial effort Constellations taking place at SVA's Chelsea Gallery. The exhibition will be on view through August 11th. “Constellations” comes from the sociological theory of intersectionality, asserting that all elements of identity—most notably gender, sexuality, race and class—are interwoven. Each marker cannot be fully understood without acknowledging the contextualizing factors surrounding it. The students in this exhibition utilize the multiplicities within identity to create personal yet socially engaged work. Connecting many points across space, these artists explore the complexity and composite nature of human experience.

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Alongside many talented artists from SVA's vast student body is the recent MFA Photo/ Video graduate Dodo Xinyu Zhang, whose thesis project Idle Character explores the complicated relationship between sexuality, identity and pornography through the medium of Japanese pornographic posters and self portraiture. Her work gets a beautiful write up in hyperallergic. A fitting start to her career as an emerging artist to keep an eye on.

Click here to check out what Zachary Small at Hyperallergic had to say about the exhibition and many congratulations to our talented graduates, Adam and Dodo!!!

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Constellations will be on view at SVA's Chelsea Gallery through August 11th. For more details on hours and the featured artists please click here.

Interview with alumni Maureen Drennan for PROHBTD

Excerpt from interview and article, Maureen Drennan: A Compelling and Intimate Glimpse into Removed Communities by Jelena Martinovic for PROHBTD.

 Maureen Drennan, Meet Me In the Green Glen, Adam

Maureen Drennan, Meet Me In the Green Glen, Adam

Jelena Martinovic: Your series Meet Me in the Green Glen, which provides an intimate look into the life of a cannabis grower in California, was recently exhibited in a group show at the Mrs. Gallery. Tell us more about this body of work. How did you find about this place and decide to explore it?

Maureen Drennan: The Mrs. Gallery show was so exciting—I was in excellent company. The project Meet Me in the Green Glen is an intimate look at a reclusive marijuana grower in Northern California. He was an isolated man whose environment was both ominous and verdant. We met several years ago and through this project became close. I photographed him for about nine years, and the laws and stigma around marijuana cultivation have changed in California. Despite the fact that many people in the area grow pot, and it is a large part of the local economy, many farms, his included, are not legal. They either grow more plants than is allowable or grow much larger plants than is legal. Also, you cannot transport more than a certain amount of weed, which poses a huge problem after harvest season. Every year Ben hired young men to help with the harvest.

 Maureen Drennan, Meet Me In the Green Glen, Ben

Maureen Drennan, Meet Me In the Green Glen, Ben

I met Ben serendipitously in a clothing store in Northern California. He wasn’t a worker there, he was just hanging out drinking beer at 3 p.m. so I teased him about his early happy hour amongst the racks of clothes. He teased me right back, “Well, where do you live that you can't drink beer in a public place?”

I replied, “Well… NYC,” and he said, “Ohhhhh, city mouse,” and our friendship began. We hit it off right away, and he invited me to his farm to photograph it.

The farm was like a slice of Eden. He had animals, lots of pot plants, but also vegetables, trees and a man-made pond with geese and ducks. During harvest season when the plants were tall and the buds were ripe, the entire farm smelled like weed. On warm days, it was intoxicating to be there.

At first, he didn’t want any pictures taken of him, just the farm, so I respected that. But then I returned a few months later and explained that what interested me more than an illegal pot farm was him, the man running it. I said I would never implicate him, and he trusted me so I photographed him for years. Our friendship grew, and I was honored to be considered a member of the family. He would tell me all kinds of stories about his life and would get so excited telling them, like it was an adventure.It’s interesting because, for me, being with him was an adventure. He sadly just passed away, and I feel lucky to have known him. He was extremely funny, charming and a great bullshit artist. He would tease me mercilessly when I took my time making portraits of him: "Jesus Christ, City Mouse, I don’t have all fucking day!"

To continue reading, please click here.


For Drennan's latest body of work she sought out subjects in liminal spaces — places outside homes, transit hubs, as well as secluded or marginal places where there is a particular kind of lonely poetry. Through encounters from locals, and those existing on the margins she was able to engage with spaces where as she says, "where certainties temporarily dissolve, where we often aren’t sure what's coming next. " To learn more, please click here.

Steel Stillman featured in Osmos Magazine

Faculty member and contemporary artist, Steel Stillman will be featured in the Summer 2018 issue of Osmos Magazine with his writing "6 Photographs". Featuring a radical blend of arresting images, print quality, and distinctive design, Osmos magazine is the most recognized publication in the market fostering contemporary perspectives in photography as the medium crossing all creative industries and practices--art, design, fashion and propaganda, aiming at the core of our imagination.

To learn more and reserve your copy, please click here.

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This issue will also feautre Marilyn Minter, artist Jill Magid on her ongoing engagement with the work of Alexander Calder, an essay by contributing editor Tom McDonough on Anne Collier, Drew Sawyer on Elle Pérez, Russian Ghanaian photographer Liz Johnson Artur's "beautiful moments of everyday black life around the world" and Dale Harding's murals created using a stencil technique practiced by the artist's ancestors: the Bidjara, Ghungalu and Garingbal peoples of Central Queensland, Australia

Penelope Umbrico at Postmasters

Running through August 11th 2018, SCREENSCAPES at Postmasters features the work of six artists working within the formal space of a screen, or exploring the formalization of networks. Alongside artists Diana Cooper, Luke Murphy, Rafaël Rozendaal, and Artie Vierkant, faculty member and critically acclaimed artist Penelope Umbrico will be showcasing her piece Bad Display (eBay) (2018).

For more details and hours, please click here.

 Penelope Umbrico,  Bad Display (eBay)  (2018). 

Penelope Umbrico, Bad Display (eBay) (2018). 

The photographs in Broken Sets and Bad Display are cropped from images of broken LCD-TVs Umbrico found for sale on eBay and other consumer-to-consumer market sites, where the televisions are sold for parts. The sellers turn the sets on while photographing them so that potential buyers can see that the electronics behind the screens still work. She became interested in the incidental beauty of the screens because they are derived from the failure of their own promising technology. In her words, "By presenting these inadvertent abstract arrangements as formal compositions in their own right, I am collapsing the obsolescence and breakdown of new technology with the visionary aesthetic of Modernism."