Savannah Film Festival rewind: honoree portraits of 2013


In the midst of the count down to Savannah Film Festival 2014 (Oct. 25 - Nov. 1), a batch of Adam Kuehl’s distinctive portraits of Savannah College of Art and Design's honorees went up in Jen Library. From where the portraits hang in Jen’s study rooms, it’s hard to decipher who is ogling whom. Do the students glance up between chapters to study the faces of the film icons whose paths they want to trace? Or do the filmmakers stare at the students with motionless expression, wishing to trade places with the young creatives poised to make their own mark on the world?

Here's Adam's 2013 portraits, emblems of a week’s worth of the best and latest in film. Just like the festival, the portraits keep getting better. Styling by Amy Zurcher.

Portrait of actress Abigail Bresslin by photographer Adam Kuehl.

"Amy had the clever idea to fill the space from floor to ceiling with Domestic Construction rugs. Abigail was a fan."

Portrait of Alec Baldwin by photographer Adam Kuehl.

 "Alec Baldwin has been to the festival several times, so he knew exactly what to do with Christian Dunbar's (M.F.A., furniture design, 2013) lamp."

Portrait of Alexander Payne by photographer Adam Kuehl.

"Alexander Payne, recipient of the Achievement in Cinema Award, in the newly renovated lobby of Trustees Theater."

Portait of Bruce Dern by photographer Adam Kuehl.

Bruce Dern, a 2006 Savannah Film Festival honoree.

Portait of Candice Accola by photographer Adam Kuehl.

"A candid moment of Candice Accola rocking a pair of earrings by Aimee Petkus (B.F.A., jewelry, 2013) and leather top by Brooke Atwood (M.A., fashion, 2010).

Portrait of Jeremy Irons by photographer Adam Kuehl.

Jeremy Irons, recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award, sits comfortably in front of a painting ("Untitled") by JenMarie Zeleznak (M.F.A., painting, 2011). His intensity matched the scene Amy created perfectly. The wood wall is actually a small stage that we flipped on its side."

Portrait of Julian Sands by photographer Adam Kuehl.

Julian Sands in front of “Star Chamber” by Summer Wheat (M.F.A., painting, 2005).

Portrait of Natalie Dormer by photographer Adam Kuehl.

Natalie Dormer, recipient of the Discovery Award.

Portrait of Norman Reedus by photographer Adam Kuehl.

Norman Reedus in front of wallpaper designed by Joanne Duran (B.F.A., interior design, 1999).

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To help save the endangered, SCAD alumni unite at Elephant Parade in Hong Kong

Tags: Events

Illegal ivory poaching and vast deforestation has plunged the population of Asian elephants to dangerous lows. Roughly 50,000 of their kind are left in the world, according to several international conservation reports. The outlook on their long-term survival is grim, with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature placing them on the endangered Red List and some predicting the species will be extinct in the wild as soon as 2050.

But several conservationists and artists are responding to these bleak statistics with hope during the Elephant Parade exhibition. The traveling art gallery is raising awareness by featuring galleries of life-sized baby elephant replicas designed by an array of artists. The parade is currently in Hong Kong and features the work of SCAD alumni Kevin Lee Jr. (B.F.A., sound design, 2013), Michael-Birch Pierce (M.F.A., fibers, 2012) and April Rivers (B.F.A., fibers, 2011).

Their artwork, along with several other contributions, are featured at the Pacific Place shopping center in Central Hong Kong, the Cityplaza complex near Tai Koo Station and Citygate Outlets on the northernmost part of Lantau Island near the Hong Kong International Airport. The exhibition ends on Tuesday, Sept. 9.

Twenty percent of the Elephant Parade's net profit — along with 100 percent of money earned from auctioning off handpicked statues — goes to the Asian Elephant Foundation, according to the event organizers. The nonprofit foundation's board members, in turn, distributes the funding to projects that aim to stave off extinction. Some past projects include funding nature reserves where the elephants can live unthreatened, as well as educational programs taught worldwide.

Each elephant statue took on the artists' different styles. Lee used strips of colorful LED lights, Pierce turned to his admiration for "the tacky and gaudy," while Rivers left the statue in its natural white state, enhancing it with fibers and bones while "retaining something pure."

When Pierce set off to create his elephant replica he said he wanted to create something that harkened back to a time when Eastern culture revered elephants, dressing them with beautiful ornaments.

    (The East) adorned elephants with crazy gold fabrics, big metal headdresses. They were regal and reverend. They were precious.

Pierce searched for materials in the markets of Sham Shui Po. Despite what he called a "sensory overload of overstimulation," he managed to focus long enough to find what he needed in stores filled to the brim with beads and crystals.

As a self-professed animal lover and conservationist, Pierce is happy to know that his artwork's wide exposure to bustling Hong Kong will help tell the story about the potential extinction of Asian elephants. Art is sometimes the only digestible way for people to see an environmental crisis through the blur of their busy lives, he added.

"It's not always easy trying to convince someone to change their minds when they have no intention of changing their minds in the first place," he said. "I think that creating these elephants in this way is a really great way to draw attention to the problem. Everyone can connect to art."

For Rivers, the experience in Hong Kong was "eye opening."

"It was extremely inspiring," she said. "It's amazing to just be in Sham Shui Po. To take in the smells, the colors, the sounds and the textures."

Rivers worked closely with Lee in a shared studio and was nearby Peirce's workspace. The whirlwind trip, along with a tight deadline, made "war buddies" out of the three, she said. Having their different paths converge in Hong Kong — Lee from California, Pierce from Virginia and Rivers from Texas — turned colleagues into friends.

"The three of us got very close," she said. "We all brought different strengths. Kevin had a very mechanical brain, which complimented my love of girly things like fibers and soft materials. Peirce brought the glitter and glam. It was a good mix and we learned a lot from each other. I miss them."

Her new friendships speak to the collaborative nature SCAD fosters, Rivers added.

People often choose to go to the college near their hometown because it's close by, but sometimes they end up staying in one place. On the other hand, SCAD is such a hodgepodge of people. It has campuses everywhere. There's no way you could get these kinds of experiences anywhere else.

Taking part in Elephant Parade also allowed the alumni to pass on some experience to SCAD Hong Kong students who helped workshop the statues. Pierce said he especially enjoyed letting the students have "free range" on a large portion of his replica.

"Working with the students at Hong Kong was great," he said. "I think that it's very important to show that there’s actually a career to be had after graduation, using the skills they're learning at SCAD. I was worried I would have to work with 19-year-old kids who didn't necessarily have the experience they needed for this kind of project. But these students are driven. They're talented."

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A museum’s worth: artists’ perspectives on SCAD Museum of Art


This week, Savannah College of Art and Design brings home three honors from the American Institute of Architects convention: the AIA Young Architect’s Award, the AIA Fellowship for Emerging Leaders and the 2014 AIA National Honor Award for Architecture for the SCAD Museum of Art. The mission of the latter is to ‘establish a standard of excellence against which all architects can measure performance, and inform the public of the breadth and value of architecture practice.’

But what do artists think? Here, Kehinde Wiley, Liza Lou, Stephen Antonakos, Alfredo Jaar, Rosemarie Fiore and Trenton Doyle Hancock lend an artist’s perspective on the value of SCAD Museum of Art. They join the ranks of exhibiting artists like Jason Middlebrook, Fred Wilson and Nicola López who have responded to SCAD Museum of Art's distinctiveness by creating site-specific installations for the museum.

Congratulations, SCAD Museum of Art, for successfully connecting past and present, emerging artists with established artists, in both form and substance, and for being a magnet the draws the world in to contemplate the transformative power of art and design.

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Architecture: a return to art is the way forward


What would it look like if architects were allowed to be artists again; as comfortable in the manual and intuitive realms of drawing, painting and sculpture as with parametric modeling and digital imaging? What if we were to reject the limitations of product-driven, systematic design and production and re-engage the full range of tools innately available and refined over the course of millennia?

Watercolor by Christian Sottile.

The evolution from humanities to technology
Once considered to be among the principal arts, Architecture has passed through a technological revolution over the course of a century, moving from the art based approach of the famed French academy, the École des Beaux-Arts, to the functional dictums and objectivism of the German Bauhaus that would forever alter the course of design and education.

This revolution in education culminated during the digital era. Both the product and process of design entered the last phases of a radical transformation, unmoored from centuries of humanistic origins. Its success proved the potential of something distinctly other, with little emphasis on anthropomorphic, geographic or cultural connection; thereby embracing the full, expansive possibilities of the virtual and the synthetic. This last stage of the revolution has now passed its third decade, and we have grown increasingly detached from humanistic concerns.

An opportunity within reach
Firmly planted as we are in the digital era, the opportunity exists to reconsider the practices that preceded the revolution, to rescue tools that may have been set aside too quickly; tools that will prove essential in charting a way forward for architecture and design. What was jettisoned in the exuberance and upheaval of unprecedented technological innovation is the elusive quality that allows our buildings to speak to us: their humanity - evident and embedded in the pursuit of beauty and the art of making.

Today, this places the architecture profession at an extraordinary moment in history, an era in which we may now synthesize the best of the past with the victories of the digital revolution to embrace a truly hybridized future. It’s not the tired old debate between the École des Beaux Arts, a school of art, or the Bauhaus, a school of building, but rather a ‘BeauxHaus,’ a School of Building Arts.

Activating a fresh approach
At Savannah College of Art and Design, this approach to architecture is reflected in the SCAD Museum of Art. Built in 2010, SCAD MOA embodies what has long been taught in the SCAD School of Building Arts: the dissolution of boundaries between design disciplines. The museum is a place where the highest ideals of urban design, architecture, interior design, architectural history, historic preservation and furniture design all find distinct yet integrated expression.

SCAD Museum of Art: a case study
So how would a renewed emphasis on the tactile art of making - on the real - change the design process and the built environment?

Returning to SCAD MOA as a case study, at its core, the museum is a testimonial to synthesis, created using a design process that included the full spectrum of available tools and methods, from digital modeling and BIM, to physical model making, in situ mock-ups, sketching, painting, and digital collage. It’s a building brought about through a construction process that included full scale enlargements of hand-drawn details to create field templates; that included prefabricated modular building envelope components, integrated with local craftsman, practicing the most ancient of building trades, hand-crafting the building using the human hand and eye as their primary tools.

The confluence of disciplines embodied by SCAD MOA makes it one emblem for a new order of design that will allow architects to create the next generation of cities, to reject the soulless, placeless design strategies that characterized city centers created or recreated in the latter half of the 20th century; that will empower architects instead to create new places that come alive with a synthesis of art, humanism and delight, as well as technology and innovation.

This is the way forward.

Christian Sottile (M.Arch., 1997) is the dean of the School of Building Arts at Savannah College of Art and Design where he oversees programs in architecture, urban design, interior design, historic preservation, furniture design and architectural history. He is also design principal of Sottile & Sottile and the design architect for the SCAD Museum of Art.

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Landmark moment for SCAD graduates in Hong Kong


It was a milestone for Savannah College of Art and Design's 35-year history when its first graduating class from Hong Kong walked across the commencement stage.

More than 60 graduates gathered at the W Hong Kong Hotel, which overlooks the West Kowloon waterfront, to celebrate the beginning of a long journey of achievements ahead. Nearly 300 families, professors and supporters of SCAD attended the ceremony in Hong Kong's new art and cultural quarter.

Valedictorian Katrina Teh (B.F.A., illustration, 2014) left her hometown of Manila to study at SCAD in 2011. This is the second diploma that she's earned. Before SCAD, Katrina graduated with honors from the most prestigious university in Manila. Still, she felt there was more she could do to make her passion dovetail with her career. She came to SCAD with a very clear goal of realising her dream of drawing for a living.

“I consciously chose SCAD because I wanted to be technically better as an artist. I came here finding that I was growing up – learning how to be a better person. SCAD opened my life to a world of creative people and great opportunity for growth. ”

In her speech, Katrina also said that at SCAD she found “comrades in art,” like minded students with the same passion for creating things who would go through critiques together, sleepless from tirelessly perfecting key frames, value contrasts, kerning or line quality.

While at SCAD, Katrina exhibited her work widely, received coverage in the Philippine Star and The Hong Kong Economic Journal, and led a team from SCAD to win the 2012 Disney ImagiNations Hong Kong competition. Following her ImagiNations win, she was awarded a trip to Disney headquarters in Glendale, California and an internship at Hong Kong Disneyland. Recently, she accepted a position as a concept designer at Hong Kong Disneyland and will continue to work as an illustrator and painter, as well. Her advice for fellow graduates:

“There is no peak upon graduation, my friends, only an infinite sky of possibilities. Keep moving forward, and never give up.”

Presiding over the commencement ceremony, SCAD president and co-founder Paula Wallace conferred degrees to the graduates. The new SCAD alumni were also addressed in a speech by interior designer Ken Hu (M.A., interior design, 1995), a partner at Chen Chung Design. Ken shared his experiences as a creative professional and told the group what they can look forward to after studying at SCAD.

The first batch of graduates was also joined by Adrian Cheng Chi-kong, a cultural entrepreneur and advocate for art and education in Hong Kong and Asia, as well as co-founder and chairman of Arts in Heritage Research. SCAD awarded Adrian an honorary doctorate degree.

SCAD Board of Trustees chair Albie Whitaker III, board member Chan Lai Wa, Deputy Consul General of the U.S. Consulate in Hong Kong, Tom Cooney, and Raymond Chan, a representative from Hong Kong's office of the Commissioner for Heritage, were among some of the distinguished guests at the ceremony.




插畫系學士課程學生Katrina Teh今年以優異成績畢業,並獲得代表畢業生在典禮上致告別辭的機會。Katrina熱愛創作和畫畫,於2011年由馬尼拉來港入讀SCAD。她先前在馬尼拉一所大學以優異成績畢業並取得第一個學士學位,但她仍感不足,希望進一步裝備自己,她入讀SCAD時懷著明確目標:將繪晝創作的興趣變成一生的事業。Katrina致辭時說:「我選擇入讀SCAD,因為我希望磨鍊技巧,成為一個更優秀的藝術家。在這裡我發現自己成長了,變成一個更優秀的人。SCAD創造了一個有利學習進步的空間,讓我可以與其他有創意的人連結交流。」

Katrina認識了不少志同道合、同樣熱衷創作的「戰友」同學,數年來一起捱夜、一起趕功課,奮力完善每個技術細節如動畫創作的關鍵幀 (key frame)、明度(value contracts) 、字距(kerning),甚至是線的質量。

在學期間,Katrina的作品有機會於Philippine Star及信報刊登,她並與三位同學組隊勇奪2012年迪士尼幻想工程香港挑戰賽冠軍。他們的奬品是免費參觀美國加州的迪士尼樂園,以及到香港迪士尼接受為期八周的實習生訓練。今年六月畢業後,Katrina將獲聘為香港迪士尼的概念設計師。


畢業典禮由SCAD校長Paula Wallace主持,她並向一眾畢業生頒贈學位和證書。


藝術及古蹟資料研究的創辦人及主席鄭志剛獲頒發榮譽博士學位,以表揚他對推動香港藝術和文化的貢獻。其他出席的嘉賓包括SCAD董事會主席Alan B. Whitaker III及董事會成員陳麗華、美國領事館及發展局的代表。

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AD's Margaret Russell's 'simple truths' for graduates


A good commencement address is irresistible. Whether graduating or firmly planted in career or school, the distilled life experience and wisdom are too convenient and enlightening to pass up. And so, in case you missed Savannah College and Art and Design's 2014 commencement ceremonies, here's speaker Margaret Russell's 'simple truths', which she delivered to SCAD's 1,560 graduates in Atlanta and Savannah after tracing her rise to the helm of Elle Decor and now Architectural Digest.

I’m going to end with some simple truths, some things to keep in mind as you enter the workforce. These are more pragmatic than they are profound. Actually, they’re tips to help you do well at work and to keep you from annoying your future bosses.

Be early.
I remain challenged by this, but I’m usually still the first person at the AD offices each morning. It’s better to consistently arrive early at work than to have to consistently stay late.

Be a trouble shooter and problem solver.
These are key qualities that everyone in every industry looks for when hiring. Think ahead and always anticipate the unexpected.

Expect good and don’t gossip.
Don’t ever write emails that might land you in trouble if read in public. Email should communicate facts, not emotion.

Be aware of the power of social media and never post a photo when it’s clear that you’ve had far too much fun.
Your bosses are also on Google, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and they will find you. Try imagining that your social accounts have a pause button and take a breath before you hit send.

Embrace change as it’s the most constant aspect of your future.
The happiest people around you are those who are flexible and adapt well.

Don’t be afraid to ask; ask for everything. Just never have a sense of entitlement when you do.
Some of the best stories published in the magazines I’ve edited are there because I had the nerve to go after them.

Don’t be afraid, period.
Life’s too short. Conquer your fears today.

Pay attention.
Listen, stay focused, be ambitious, have common sense, show good judgment.

Do the right thing.
You’ll never go wrong by doing what you truly believe is right.

Give back.
I love AD, but the most rewarding work I do is philanthropic or political. Volunteer, develop your personal sense of social responsibility and integrate it into your daily life.

Think green.
Please think green because your forebears did not. Use your genius to save our planet.

Find your passion and your joy.
I hire people who are passionate about their work. I’ve always been told that there’s no place for emotion at work, and indeed that’s true. But I know for sure that being passionate about what you do will drive you to far greater success.

Feed your creativity. Get off your iPhone. Look up.
Don’t passively email someone sitting a few feet from you in the office. Talk to each other, write thank you notes, read books.

Don’t settle. Expect the best. Want to be the best.

You are so well prepared to make your way and to change the world and we can’t wait to see what you’ll do. Congratulations, class of 2014. We honor and admire you. Here’s to your brilliant future. Here’s to tomorrow.

Share your favorite or most memorable piece of commencement advice by posting it in the comments below.


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VIDEO: Dr. Maya Angelou's 1998 commencement address


In this season of graduations and rites of passage, we are pleased to feature one of the shining moments from Savannah College of Art Design's 35-year history: Dr. Maya Angelou's 1998 commencement address in Savannah, Georgia. Listening to Dr. Angelou's speech to SCAD grads reminds us of the gift of her legacy and our gratitude for her timeless life's work.


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Drone captures art and design students sculpting the sands of Tybee


When you're a student at Savannah College of Art and Design, your medium isn't restricted to the traditional and the classroom extends to the ocean.


Hundreds of students, alumni and faculty focused their talents on the sands of Tybee Island, Ga. to create SCAD Fine Arts' and Foundation Studies' 2014 parade of sculptures that welcomed summer's arrival and enthralled thousands of winter-weary beach goers. In addition to indulging in the open air studio, each individual entrant or team competed for $5,000 in prizes. The first place winners are:

Sand Sculpture and Alumni’s Choice Award: #4 “Walden”

Chennon Roberts, B.F.A. animation student, Auburn, AL
Josh Beam, B.F.A. illustration student, North Charleston, SC

Sand Castle:  #1 “Ice”

Adrian Tinoco, B.F.A. visual effects student, Key Biscayne, FL
Gian Lombardi, B.F.A. visual effects student, Doral, FL

Sand Relief: #13 “Turtles”

Emily Luking, B.F.A. fibers student, Ellicott City, MD
Raven Brown, B.F.A. fibers student, Marietta, GA
Lydia Hartley, B.F.A. fibers student, Wilmington, NC

Wind Sculpture: #7 “Wing-tipped vortices”

Jamie Niles, B.F.A. painting student, Richmond Hill, GA

Gray’s Reef Best Underwater Creature: #7 “Hermit Crab”

Benjamin Breslow, B.F.A. industrial design student, Platte City, MO
Jeff Dull, B.F.A. industrial design student, Strasburg, PA
Michael Soleo, B.F.A. industrial design student, Lexington Park, MD

35th Anniversary Spirit Award: #7 “35 Years"

Hugo Aguilera, B.F.A., painting, 2011
Will Penny, M.F.A., painting, 2013, B.F.A., painting, 2008

SCAD Castle Award: #4 “Poetter Hall”

Paula Hoffman, professor, foundation studies
Matt Toole, professor, foundation studies

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Art as a community heartbeat


Starting off a few years ago as a tiny gallery on Desoto Row, Art Rise Savannah is becoming a hub for the independent art community and the city of Savannah as a whole.

Every first Friday of the month, Art Rise hosts the Art March, connecting the galleries, shops, and cafes from Forsyth to Victory for a three hour tour of Savannah's arts district. It also hosts exhibition fellowships to help artists showcase their work with Fresh Exhibitions, holds an indie arts market outside the gallery to help craftsman sell their products and supports local artists in everything from networking to getting health insurance. We caught up with the executive eirector and interim secretary for the Art Rise board, Clinton Edminster, and to get his insights on how art impacts a community and how young artists can start a creative scene in their own city.

Photographer Pablo Serrano discusses his work during the Feburary Art March. Photo by Art Rise staffer Logann Fincher.

Thread: How do you get people involved to build an art scene or an arts organization where there isn’t one?

Clinton Edminster: I think the key here is to show people a reality that doesn’t exist yet by using clues that are present now. To simply have people imagine the future then ask them if it’s something they would enjoy being a part of. If their answer is yes, then get them excited about putting that structure together. I think that’s really the main key: just getting people in. I found this a fascinating challenge because, unlike other places with a well established arts community, I wanted to be a part of developing it, and I think a lot of other people do as well.

An onlooker explores a installation during the March Art March at Sicky Nar Nar. Photo by Art Rise staffer Lauren Flotte.

It’s also important to just start talking to people, to know your environment and figure out specifically what you want to do so you don’t reinvent the wheel. You have to fill a vacuum somewhere, but you have to figure out what that vacuum is first. So you talk to people at shows and you become a part of the community, and from there you can figure out where the gaps are and what you have to offer them.

What it really comes down to is just a group of people willing to do the dirty work and a lot of paperwork. You have to go beyond the romantic idea of starting an arts organization, because the infrastructure is vital to developing a community.

Painter Jared Seff does some impromptu portraiture during the January Art March. Photo by Art Rise staffer Peterson Worrell.

T: Other than bringing art to Savannah, how else has Art Rise changed the community?

C: Well, that can be broken down in a couple ways. First, you can break it down demographically.

The cool thing about art is that everybody can enjoy it. There’s some work to be done about making art accessible, but as soon as you do that, everyone can enjoy it—no matter your age, race, ethnicity, background, education—because art is so extensive. Theater, poetry, abstract, representational, whatever.

It’s all awesome and it’s all about the visual things that people enjoy. Art is a heightened sense of entertainment and it’s a community-based sense of entertainment.

Clouds & Satellites playing at Foxy Loxy Cafe during the Art March. Photo by Art Rise staffer Peterson Worrell.

Art Rise is in the business of creating opportunities and awareness of this incredibly accessible medium that everyone can enter in on at relatively the same level—whether they’re art appreciators or artists. It’s really all just about people talking to people in the presence of art. It’s sort of like art’s not even the point anymore, it’s just the excuse we all have to go out on a Friday night and meet people we might not meet otherwise. It creates a dialogue that's different from one you would have at work, or school, or at a football game. It’s more intellectual, more uplifting and you can gain a better vocabulary for describing your own life. It can be lofty, but it can also be very basic in the best way. So that’s where I see art bringing communities together demographically, and that’s what we’re really pushing for.

Art Marchers ride the trolley from stop to stop. Photo by Art Rise staffer Peterson Worrell.

Also, economically the Art March is pretty great. Foxy Loxy’s busiest day ever was the April Art March. And for Foxy, that’s saying a lot. The Art March has become a night where people come explore down here past the park, and I think it remains pretty true that it’s the busiest day of the month for all of the galleries here. It creates a heartbeat, and it connects people and they see it and talk about it and it gets dispersed. It’s really valuable from an economic standpoint, but it needs to be seen as valuable in that way, too.

Adam Gabriel Winnie's exquisite realism series during the December Art March. Photo by Art Rise staffer Peterson Worrel.l

T: How else does art help a community? Why is it important?

C: Not only is art really valuable from an economic standpoint, but it creates a heartbeat. It connects people. They see it and talk about it and it gets dispersed. It also expresses a vocabulary that really plays on the subjective experience that we all feel, in a different way than language can, because language is pretty solidly defined. One word means the same thing for hopefully a lot of people and it’s a very logical medium. Language can be used in abstract ways of course, but essentially it’s designed to be logical. But visual art is a different vocabulary, used to talk about things in ways we can’t yet express verbally, and that’s important. We’re always going into the future, and it’s important for us to be thinking 20, 40 years ahead about concepts we might not even really fully understand now. When you look at art, you feel a different way that you can’t really explain, and that feeling is a complex emotion that later you’ll be able to actually talk about and discuss. Art creates the future; it sees the future. It helps build up how we discuss it.

Art Rise is gearing up for the May Art March on the 2nd of the month, so check out the map, plan your route, and get your walking shoes ready. 

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Turning the career fair on its head


Savannah College of Art and Design created a reverse career fair called Out to Launch (O2L) about seven years ago to empower students to amplify their bodies of work in their own voice. It’s a reversal in that the employers come to the students, instead of the students going to the employers at their headquarters or a conference hall. We invite industry representatives to view the portfolios of students at our Atlanta location right before they graduate, a preview of the new talent entering the marketplace.

By requiring students to host potential employers ‘on their own turf,’ they come to understand the value of their education and active participation in it. They see the portfolios of their fellow students and begin to make professional connections that pay off earlier in their careers. The ownership they take in O2L enables them to better market their whole educational experience - facilities, pedagogy, faculty – and harness those elements for their benefit.

By way of example, one hundred percent of the animation students who participated last year reported earning a job opportunity at O2L.

Initially, we didn't realize just how successful the format would become, growing from 11 employers participating in 2008 to more than 120 in 2013. It turns out that industry relishes the idea of taking time to absorb an array of prospective interns and employees, asking questions at their own pace and truly understanding the educational environment that has contributed to their talents.

As O2L grows, so does the buzz. We went from inviting only local agencies in the beginning to hosting a variety of national companies, and the success stories grow every year.

Through O2L, our students have landed internships and full-time positions at companies like Marvel Comics, The Home Depot, Wieden+Kennedy, Sony Pictures, MTV and more.  This year, employers like the Centers for Disease Control, IBM Interactive and MailChimp have signed on.

Our faculty members are proud to see our passion for preparing students for creative careers come to fruition. The broad range of students who participate in O2L proves that the format is beneficial to all students, regardless of discipline. Each year, more academic majors are represented at O2L, with students from 13 different programs participating last year.

In addition to drawing a pool of top-notch employers with opportunities to offer, we invite keynote speakers and a panel of professionals, handpicked from industries that are relevant to the students’ career paths. O2L may have turned the career fair upside down, but the students who participate and the employers who hire them are coming out on top.

This year, our keynote is motivational speaker and creativity advocate Kevin Carroll, founder of Carroll Katalyst, LLC. The panel, moderated by The Weather Channel's executive vice president and chief marketing officer, Scot Safon, includes:

Judy Salzinger is the advertising program coordinator at SCAD Atlanta. Previously, she was vice president and creative director at Cross Media/Golin-Harris International and led initiatives such as creative direction for top sponsors of the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics and Fortune 500 companies.

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