Raquel Serebrenik Sultan: 'Chroma' and the maestro


Raquel Serebrenik Sultan (M.A., business design and arts leadership; B.F.A., art history, 2015) is co-curator of "Chroma," an exhibition by Carlos Cruz-Diez at the SCAD Museum of Art through August 20. Collaborating with head curator Storm Janse van Rensburg, Articruz and the Cruz-Diez Art Foundation, Serebrenik Sultan has assembled a remarkable display of the 93-year old Venezuelan painter and color-theorist's recent work. Serebrenik Sultan, currently program manager at the Museo de Arte Moderno de Bogotá (MAMBO),  returned to Savannah for the exhibition opening and special presentation by President Wallace to Cruz-Diez of the deFINE ART honoree award.

RAQUEL SEREBRENIK SULTAN: I studied at an arts high school in Bogotá. One day my teacher put a newspaper on the table with a huge picture of the maestro Carlos Cruz-Diez and said, "His show is coming to La Cometa gallery!" I went and saw this chromatic environment with lights. I started moving the little pieces around. And you can't just move around things at an exhibition! I was kicked out of the gallery. I was 13 years old.

The next day my parents called me and said, "We're so excited! We met this artist and you have to meet him." I flew to Panama where he has one of his ateliers and it was full of artists and designers creating on a constant basis.

When selecting a university to attend, I visited Savannah and the activity and energy at SCAD reminded me of the maestro's atelier. I knew it was the place for me!

When I started my thesis at SCAD, I decided to make it about Carlos Cruz-Diez. I got in contact with his family to request an interview with the maestro. While we were on Skype he was showing me what he was painting in Illustrator. I said, "Maestro, you need to come meet SCAD." He said, "I would love to."

The maestro is not a fan of art schools in general because he thinks they teach in a traditional way. Everyone needs to know the basics, but everyone needs to innovate — that's what the maestro thinks. In fact, SCAD's mentality and his mentality are very similar. At SCAD you can be an architect or a designer and be interested in other disciplines.

The curatorial process for "Chroma" started with wanting it to be bigger than an exhibition in a gallery. Storm said, "Why don't we do a container?" Which is a perfect connection to Savannah as a port city, and also to Panama. So we have a shipping container in the SCAD MOA courtyard with three works: two on the outside of the container, one on the inside.

A lot of Venezuelan SCAD students took the initiative to help paint the sidewalks outside the museum. The maestro means a lot to them. He means hope, he means color, he means a part of Venezuela that the rest of the world doesn't know.

What the maestro really wants to do is affect how people see art and design. Art is about invention, being curious. Age doesn't matter, it's about the ability to adapt.

The maestro always tells me, "I don't trust people who do not laugh or smile." Every time we meet we're always laughing. It's not jokes, it's just being happy. And if you're not happy, move on to something else.

Topher Grace 'tames the beast' at performing arts series


SCAD students enjoyed plenty of laughter along with sound advice from actor Topher Grace during the spring kickoff of the SCAD performing arts studio series at SCAD Museum of Art. Known best as bashful teenager Eric Forman on "That '70s Show," Grace has since appeared in notable films including "Spider-Man 3," "Interstellar," "Predators" and "American Ultra" — and now on the stage of the SCAD MOA theater too.

"The more you learn how the beast works, the more you can tame it," Grace told the audience of primarily performing arts students, referring to the film and television industry. He encouraged students to say yes to every opportunity at the start of their careers, before other life factors begin to weigh in: "If there's a door, you should go through it."

SCAD chair of film and television D.W. Moffett introduced Grace, whom he has considered a close friend since the two actors sat together at an awards dinner in 2000 for Grace's first film, "Traffic." Grace and Moffett both said they were a bit jealous of the resources available today, from smartphone recording capabilities to digital distribution systems, and joked about by-gone times collecting "short ends" of other people's film to make five-minute short videos.

"The technology is so in your favor," Grace told students.

Although Grace considers his start in the business a bit unusual — he earned his audition for "That '70s Show" after the producers saw him act in a play at their daughter's school — he shared what he has gleaned from his nearly two-decade career.

Referencing his early experiences with casting directors, Grace said students should dare to be different. His first headshot was a snapshot taken at Six Flags, and his résumé included jobs at Dunkin' Donuts and the video store at the mall.

"They knew they were getting someone who had a fresh point of view," Grace said with a chuckle.

Grace, who earned writing and producing credits on 2011's "Take Me Home Tonight," believes communication skills are a large part of a successful acting career. He cautioned actors to listen to each other, and to try to avoid working with people who are overly self-satisfied.

"The star of the project is the project — there's no human star," he said. Filmmaking is not a democracy, Grace pointed out, so actors should trust their director. "Great directors are really benevolent dictators."

The SCAD performing arts studio series invites artists and industry insiders to the university for immersive experiences with students as well as lectures that are open to the public. During his week at SCAD, Grace gave feedback on performances at a SCAD acting for comedy class, workshopped with 2017 performing arts showcase students, and visited the set of SCAD student sitcom "The Buzz."

Sharing the MOME Love at CoMotion 2017


Sporting pink MOME Love lanyards along with their business-casual best, SCAD motion media design students flocked to the SCAD Museum of Art, March 3 and 4, to make connections, present work and establish contacts during CoMotion, one of their most anticipated annual events.

Now in its eighth year, CoMotion features panels, portfolio reviews, networking receptions and a student work showcase. CoMotion is run by MOME Love, SCAD's motion media professional organization. This year's event attracted industry heavy hitters including Gentleman Scholar, The Mill and loyalkaspar, whose chief creative officer Beat Baudenbacher delivered the keynote address.

Offering the world's first specialized program in motion media design, SCAD presents undergraduate and graduate curricula that prepares students for top-level professional success. As SCAD chair of motion media Kelly Carlton explained: "These companies are here to see the wealth of work being done. At CoMotion, they see not only the work but how well the event is organized by students."

CoMotion showcases both the initiatives and talents of the students in a wide-ranging major. For the uninitiated, MOME Love co-president and current M.A. candidate Jamie Gray (B.F.A., motion media design, 2016), offered a description of the discipline.

"Motion media design is the combination of graphic design, film and television and animation," Gray said. "It's one giant major that showcases it all. We can be 2D animators but also UX designers. We know how to work a camera but can also do film editing and cinematography. Motion media encompasses diverse skills that are all shared by our love of design."

Friday's student showcase packed the SCAD MOA theater with cheering students as professional designers evaluated their motion media design projects. Work on display included moving infographics on public health issues such as plastic bag overuse, and typographic representations of the poetry of spoken word star Shane Koyzcan. 

Connections made at CoMotion often lead to internships and jobs. Gray secured her internship last year at (n+1) design studio in Jacksonville after showing her work to company representatives at CoMotion. Alumnus Duarte Elvas (M.F.A., motion media design, 2014; B.F.A., film and television, 2003), now a designer at Sarofsky in Chicago, has experienced the event from both sides.

"As a student, it was an amazing experience to have, connecting with these companies," Elvas said. "From a company standpoint, it's refreshing to see emerging talent and to get facetime with them. Everyone is so well-prepared. We keep coming back to SCAD."

CoMotion 2017 was livestreamed for the SCAD eLearning, Atlanta and Hong Kong locations.

Madame Gandhi inspires students at deFINE ART


"We should look inward to discover our immediate passions," said artist-activist Madame Gandhi, addressing the packed theater inside the SCAD Museum of Art, with her hand on her heart. "What do we care about?"

As part of deFINE ART 2017, SCAD presented two events with Madame Gandhi, the stage name of Los Angeles-based musician and feminist activist Kiran Gandhi. During her opening-night performance, Gandhi shared insights from her own career path and stressed the importance of putting passion first.

After a camp counselor introduced her to the drums at a young age, Gandhi abandoned her "oppressive piano lessons" and took to practicing the drums every day. As she began to identify as a drummer, Gandhi realized her passion for percussion wasn't fully shared by her parents.

"I got the sense — especially from my dad — that drumming was just extracurricular," Gandhi told the audience. 

After studying mathematics as an undergraduate student, she landed an internship with Interscope Records, where she began accruing valuable experience in the music industry.

"[My dad] would call me, questioning 'What's the next move? Are you going to get a job?'" Gandhi told the audience. "I said 'Papa, I'm not going to take your calls if they're oppressive.'" At this, several students laughed and clapped in approval.

Post-internship, Gandhi accepted a job at Interscope analyzing Spotify streaming plays. Then, just as she'd been accepted to business school, a chance meeting with M.I.A. led to Gandhi securing a spot as the drummer in London-born Sri Lankan rapper and activist's all-female band.

With grad school approaching and M.I.A.'s world tour about to kick off, Gandhi knew she had to make a choice. She chose both. 

"On a Monday I'd go to class, and then catch a 3 p.m. shuttle from Boston's Logan to New York to play the first of five shows," Gandhi said, counting her steps on her fingers. "At 4 a.m. I'd go back to the airport and fly back for class. That was all week long. And it worked!"

As busy as this time was, Gandhi told the audience she felt "focused on her mission."

"I was an artist, traveling the word and getting to make music," Gandhi said. "What else is there?"

Gandhi closed the discussion with two songs from her 2016 EP "Voices," alternating from vocals to percussion and proudly proclaiming "the future is female" at the end of the evening.

The next day, Gandhi returned to the SCAD MOA theater to host a workshop titled "Own Your Voice," about "atomic living," which she explained means using spontaneity more productively.

"Teachers would ask about my 10-year plan," Gandhi admitted to the theater crowd, rolling her eyes. "A 10-year plan? I don't know what I'm doing 10 hours from now!"

Gandhi instructed students to fold a sheet of paper into three panels and number each section. In the first panel, students wrote things that brought them joy. The second panel was for students to write things they disliked about the world. The third panel was to brainstorm ideas on using the passions from panel one to correct the issues in panel two.

Gandhi concluded by encouraging students to revisit their lists and to always work towards their own happiness.

"Don't be afraid to fail," she said, as students and professors alike applauded. "Why do we teach perfection, but not bravery?"

Forecasting a very Sunny SCAD Career Fair


Sunny Blount (M.Arch., 2016) is an LEED accredited professional and architectural intern at BLUR Workshop, an Atlanta design firm specializing in hospitality environments under the maxim "Design without boundaries." On Friday, Feb. 17, Blount will represent BLUR at SCAD Career Fair 2017, where more than 150 employers will recruit top SCAD talent for internships, freelance opportunities and jobs. Here, she discusses how her SCAD experience influences her work and offers tips for Bees heading to the fair. Be sure to say hi to Sunny while you're there!

SCAD: Did you attend SCAD Career Fair when you were a SCAD student?

SUNNY BLOUNT: I did! I went during my first year of graduate school. I was unable to attend the career fair my second year at SCAD, but heard about BLUR through students who did attend. After researching the firm's work, I contacted them via email with my resume and portfolio and they requested an in-person interview in Atlanta. The job offer followed a few weeks later.

SCAD: As a project lead, you know first-hand the importance of collaboration.

BLOUNT: Cross-disciplinary collaboration was my favorite part of my SCAD experience! Collaboration does not end with graduation. It continues to be an everyday part of the work environment. The BLUR office is a collaborative and supportive workplace with an energetic atmosphere. Our design teams vary per project, and I have especially enjoyed the opportunity to work on a variety of project types at different stages of design.

SCAD: While at SCAD, you were very active in organizing and taking part in volunteer work. Now that you're involved in the recruitment and hiring process, do you look for interns and prospective employees with volunteerism in their DNA?

BLOUNT: I think what is appealing about a candidate who volunteers is that it shows willingness to work with others towards a common goal. Whether that means community service or volunteering time with school organizations, sports teams or design competitions. Being a team player is an important part of working in a design field and having experience working with people is a big plus.

SCAD: Any tips for students coming to Career Fair on Friday?

BLOUNT: While job interviews are nerve-wracking, they do get easier the more you do. One of the most beneficial parts of SCAD Career Fair is gaining experience speaking with potential employers and talking about your projects and your design philosophy. Do not be let down if you don't hear back from everyone you spoke to, try to think of each employer you speak to as a chance to improve interview skills.


(Sunny Blount photo: Raftermen)

Stills from a soaring 'Savannah Songs'


It was a journey through time for the ages.

On Saturday, Feb. 11, the Savannah community congregated at four SCAD locations for "Savannah Songs," a musical celebration of Georgia Day presented in a uniquely SCAD way.

Through precision decorations, original musical compositions and crisp costuming, Gryphon, Art's Café, Morris Hall and Poetter Hall were transformed into distinct representations of varying eras in Savannah's history. There was singing, swinging, dancing and even some romancing (albeit with chaperones on hand), as the sold-out "Savannah Songs" spanned 125 years of Georgia history from Morris Hall's preparations for Civil War to Day-Glo leggings at Art's.

Bees of all stripes made period-appropriate appearances at the various venues. Kiandra Richardson (B.F.A., performing arts, 2013), delivered a rousing rendition of Whitney Houston's "I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)" at Art's, where George Lovett (B.F.A., performing arts, 2011) delivered his take Bill Withers' classic "Lean on Me," a hit when covered by Club Nouveau in 1986.

An appearance by Savannah's favorite songwriting son Johnny Mercer – as played by Drew Gripe (M.F.A., performing arts) – enlivened a 1920s high tea at Gryphon. At Poetter Hall, Christian Magby (B.F.A., performing arts, 2016) emceed a 1940s style USO dance, where performing arts students took terpsichorean turns across the dancefloor to the hits of the Andrews Sisters, delivered with zest by Frankie Alicandri (B.F.A., performing arts), Courtney Fortner (B.F.A., performing arts) and Natalie Rieger (B.F.A., performing arts).

The glory of "Savannah Songs" is glimpsed in these images. Enjoy, and see you next Georgia Day!

SCAD student work illuminates aTVfest


The superlative screenings at the 2017 SCAD aTVfest included two SCAD Student Showcases featuring short form work from the university's television producing and film and television programs. A broad range of themes were explored, from workplace tedium in "4 Corners" by Austin Taylor (B.F.A., film and television) to narcolepsy and creative block in "Despierta" from graduate student Angelica Perez-Castro (M.F.A., film and television).

Student filmmakers Braeden Orr (M.A., film and television) and Robyn Hicks (M.F.A., film and television) conducted an illuminating discussion following the first screening. Orr revealed that the inspiration for his film “Crypts & Cretins” came from a recent visit to Dragon Con and an inability to get a game of Dungeons & Dragons organized. Hicks explained that her spec commercial "Road Not Taken," based on the Robert Frost poem, was both a school project and a submission for Visa's #NotATourist campaign. The process and feedback from marketing professionals were deemed invaluable. Both Orr and Hicks praised the collaborative efforts of SCAD students and the greater Atlanta film community.

The second showcase session, boasting the talents of animation, motion media and visual effects, was no less impressive. A steady stream of demo reels, bumpers and finished narratives intrigued and entertained.

The retro style stop-motion short about a future long past from Dhimanth Rao (B.F.A., motion media design), a narrative that gives a playful lesson on arrogance from Ida Hem (B.F.A., animation) and a three-dimensional animated graphic novel clip by Liah Honeycutt (B.F.A., motion media design) were just some of the stunning visuals and diverse techniques on display.

The post-screening discussion touched on motivation, careers and lessons learned. Dedicating her project to her recently passed grandmother kept Kylie Wijsmuller (B.F.A., visual effects) disciplined. Wijsmuller's focused ethic also earned her an internship at Pixar Animation Studios in 2016. Midrell Fitzgerald (B.F.A., animation) worked on "Sugar Boy," a fun and irreverent Adult Swim bumper, during a Collaborative Learning Center project. Fitzgerald stated that the greatest lesson he's learned is that hard work pays off. Recent graduate Robin O'Neill (B.F.A., visual effects) was fortunate to land a job at Turner Broadcasting — and for permission to leave the office to attend the screening!

Both student showcase sessions slotted seamlessly into the aTVfest schedule. As Bees become fluent in every facet of the filmmaking and television producing process, aTVfest continues to be a professional platform to show their work.

aTVfest premieres Adult Swim IDs created by SCAD students


Filling any empty chair, floor or wall space available, the aTVfest crowd packed the SCAD Digital Media Center for the world premiere of the SCAD student-created Adult Swim network IDs. Short form animations that run throughout programming, Adult Swim IDs are different from other networks' IDs in that they don't rely on show content for reinforcing the brand and promoting various programs. Artists are given free reign to make their Adult Swim IDs true works of art. Which is exactly what SCAD students working in the SCAD Collaborative Learning Center did.

"I generally have to say to new artists several times that when we say 'whatever you want' we mean, really, you can do whatever you want. Bring us something you've been dying to work on," said Chris Hartley, vice president of on-air production at Adult Swim during the aTVfest animated panel.

Through the CLC, students and faculty partner with the world's most recognizable companies and organizations to conceptualize and create revolutionary design solutions, including advertising campaigns, user experiences and prototype plans. 

Now in its second installment, this year's Adult Swim SCAD CLC partnership brought together 17 hand-selected animation, illustration and motion media students for a 10-week project to create six unique and compelling network IDs, mentored by the Adult Swim on-air executives. 

At the start of their CLC journey, the students were asked to answer one question: "How does one market in a surprising way to today's audience, who are over-saturated with marketing?"

Creating a captive audience is like swimming upstream. Yet for more than a decade, Adult Swim has been #1 in basic cable with young adults. SCAD CLC students were privileged to learn from the inside how Adult Swim maintains and grows their avid audience.

SCAD alumnus and Adult Swim/Cartoon Network vice president and creative director on-air, Jason DeMarco (B.F.A., film/video production, 1996) and Hartley joined four talented SCAD CLC students on stage to discuss how Adult Swim has stayed at the forefront by constantly innovating and capitalizing on numerous non-traditional ways of viewing programming.

The takeaway: Adult Swim embraces viewers who play and communicate with Adult Swim and with each other, generating a more immersive fan experience.

Following the world premiere at SCAD's fifth annual aTVfest, the student's network IDs are now viewable on Adult Swim's YouTube channel and will soon air on national television. 


Toonami: Welcome Back
Blacklight Zone
Chase Ventures
Demonic Toilet
A Dish Best Served Pickled

Cast of ‘Underground’ honored at aTVfest


An enthusiastic crowd and a powerful television drama set the stage for the Spotlight Cast Award ceremony and screening of the WGN America show "Underground," bringing the first day of the 2017 SCAD aTVfest to a rousing close.

Actors Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Aisha Hinds, Aldis Hodge and Amirah Vann accepted the award on the SCADshow Mainstage. Hodge cited the "no kid gloves" approach to the period drama's serious subject matter — slavery and the Underground Railroad — as a reason "Underground" connects with its audience. Noting this level of commitment also makes filming emotionally and physically draining, Hodge heaped praise on the many SCAD students and alumni who work on the Georgia-based production to raucous applause.

A rough cut screening of the season two premiere followed. In the episode, the fate of Noah (Hodge) hangs in the balance as Rosalee (Smollett-Bell) initially puts her trust in the system. Meanwhile, Ernestine (Vann) struggles with different kinds of abuse. The ending was not included as the episode is still being tweaked before its broadcast debut on Wednesday, March 8, providing attendees with an extra dose of suspense.

As the honorees again took to the stage, an enlightening discussion began. Smollett-Bell discussed the sense of purpose and privilege to tell "this mighty story." She recalled that while season one aired, a constant question on social media was, "Where has this show been?"

Hinds, who plays Harriet Tubman, joined "Underground" for the upcoming second season. Originally a fan of the show, she was struck by the "powerful, palpable" way the story is being told, and is enthusiastic about becoming part of a series she is "completely invested in." Vann reviewed the character arc of Ernestine, a motherly figure in season one, and recalled a relevant lesson in perseverance Ernestine learned from her daughter.

Picking up a theme from the acceptance speech, Hodge offered further details of the physical and emotional effort required during filming. He emphasized that the chase and fight scenes fulfill adventure fantasies from childhood, but awareness and timing bring the craft of acting into the mix.

Additional topics the cast touched upon were the many strong female characters on the show, their multifaceted personalities, and how a lack of glamor brings inner strength to the forefront of these characters. Hinds promised that the story of Harriet Tubman will also be expanded in season two: "You're going to learn all about her."

Probing questions from the audience elicited tips on how to separate a difficult subject matter from personal feelings. The consensus response from the cast members is that on "Underground," the actors don't elevate the story, the story elevates the actors.

Gear up for aTVfest 2017!


It’s time for SCAD’s fifth annual celebration of design, creativity and innovation in television and media production — aTVfest! This year’s festival offers six never-before-seen programs, along with season premieres and new episodes of shows like “Quantico,” “Scandal,” “Underground,” and “Once Upon a Time.”

Today through Saturday, Feb. 4, the festival will host premiere screenings and panels covering new and iconic television comedies, dramas and animation features. Events will take place at locations in Atlanta’s thriving midtown, including the SCADshow Theater, SCAD Digital Media Center, and the main SCAD Atlanta campus at 1600 Peachtree St.

SCAD Atlanta buzzes in anticipation as network executives from Apple, Google, HBO, HGTV, Hulu, Lionsgate, MGM, ShondaLand, and more gather for workshops, master classes, and panels where students learn the latest trends in the field. As the preeminent source of knowledge in the disciplines we teach, these exclusive opportunities — including an audition workshop and a pitch party session — pair students with today’s top casting directors and network executives for an experience they won’t get anywhere else.

An integral part of aTVfest is premiering SCAD student work, including the original SCAD sitcom “The Buzz.” Of the nearly 12,000 SCAD alumni from entertainment and digital media disciplines, more than 1,600 work in the Georgia film industry, now a multi-billion-dollar driver for the Atlanta economy. During aTVfest, a juried showcase will include productions and more from SCAD’s own school of digital media.

Top names from television will be honored by SCAD during the festival. Jenna Elfman (ABC’s new show “Imaginary Mary”) will receive the Spotlight Award on Friday, Feb. 3, Jennifer Morrison (ABC’s “Once Upon a Time”) will receive the Spotlight Award on Thursday, Feb. 2, and Christina Ricci (Amazon Prime Video’s “Z: The Beginning of Everything”) will receive the Vanguard Award on Saturday, Feb 4. The stars of WGN America’s “Underground” are due to receive the Cast Award for Outstanding Achievement in Television on Saturday, Feb 4. All honorees are set to attend screenings of their respective episodes.

During the festival, screenings and panels will be dedicated to Amazon Prime Video’s “Z: The Beginning of Everything”; ABC’s “American Crime,” “The Catch,” “Imaginary Mary,” “Once Upon a Time,” “Quantico,” “Scandal,” and “When We Rise”; CBS’ “MacGyver” and “Superior Donuts”; FOX’s “24: Legacy” and “Star”; Freeform’s “Beyond” and “Shadowhunters”; HBO’s “Animals,” “Brillo Box” and “Cries From Syria”; HGTV’s “HGTV Dream House 2017”; NBC’s “Taken” and “Trial and Error”; OWN’s “Greenleaf” and WGN America’s “Underground.”

Tickets for the 2017 aTVfest are available for purchase through the SCADshow Box Office, online or by phone at 404.253.2740. Tickets will also be available one hour prior to every event at the venue.

View the complete schedule and lineup at www.atvfest.com.