And Then: Creating a Voice at SVA

By Peggy Roalf   Friday July 24, 2015

Tonight, the first graduating class of SVA’s MFA Visual Narrative program will celebrate their achievements at a public reception for the artists, from five to eight pm. Curated by department faculty members Jonathan Rosen and Ed Valentine, the exhibition And Then continues through Tuesday, July 28, at the SVA Gramercy Gallery, 209 East 23rd Street, New York City.

The MFA Visual Narrative program, chaired by Nathan Fox, offers an innovative approach to visual storytelling through the education of the artist as author. Equal emphasis is placed on creative writing and visual expression, regardless of medium. The curators said, “Stories have a way of telling us where they want to go. We may not know where a story is leading us or what it wants, but by following it we always will find ourselves in unexpected places.”


Above: Art by Jenny Goldstick, courtesy SVA.

Last week I attended a preview of the exhibition, in which two storytellers gave formal presentations, while others were on hand to speak one-to-one about their projects. The range of messages and mediums was stunning, from a hand-built papier-mâché figure to an interactive language learning game—with creative explorations of dozens of mediums at play.

Over a period of two years in the low-residency program, 14 students—most of them already working professionals—developed a personal voice that enabled them to gain control over the content of their work, rather than allowing a medium to direct their pursuits. The result is worlds of their invention peopled by a boy who ate words; haunted by a woman’s voice emanating from walls; a first heartbreak interactively shared; tree-house portals to elsewhere; eating alone; and more. 


Above: Melissa Malzkuhn presents The Boy Who Ate Words, speaking in ASL. Photo: Peggy Roalf.

And Then presents the work of Ryan Ansel, Louisa Bertman, Ann Coddou, Craig Coss, Nadia DeLane, Anna Eveslage, Jennifer Goldstick, Steven Little, Melissa Malzkuhn, Ivory Nunez Medrano, Alison Paul, Jacob Reilly, Feifei Ruan and Ryan Weber. The show continues through July 28 at the School of Visual Arts Gramercy Gallery, 209 East 23rd Street, NY, NY. Information.