Au revoir, Lacoste!


Joining their peers in Savannah and Hong Kong, students studying at Savannah College of Art and Design in Lacoste finished out spring quarter by hosting their own version of the Sidewalk Arts Festival for families and children throughout the region.

But the grand finale was The Vernissage, the conclusion to every quarter spent at SCAD Lacoste. It's a tradition that gives students a taste of what it's like to show their work abroad and for art lovers in Provence to collect their works. Around 300 visitors come to every exhibition and students are involved in every aspect of the show, from creating the work itself, to framing, matting, curating and installing it, and advertising, as well.

Exhibition invitation, image by Krissia A. Rivera (B.F.A., interior design).

Student Amanda Penley promoting the exhibition on a local radio show.

While some students were busy promoting the show, others traveled to Avignon to pick up nearly 200 frames for the exhibition, which always draws the curiousity of French customers who wonder why the students' carts are brimming over with frames.

After final critiques with faculty to decide which pieces should be included in the exhibition, like the one here with photography professor Tom Fischer, it was showtime.

The spring exhibition included work in photography, art history, fibers, interior design and industrial design. It took place throughout the studios and galleries of the campus, giving visitors the opportunity to discover SCAD's restoration of the village.

As soon as the exhibition opened, tourists, friends of the college and collectors scoped out their favorite pieces, making sure not to miss an opportunity to purchase a specific piece of artwork or discover the emerging artists who may be famous in the near future.

Beside the framed pieces exhibited in the studios and galleries, students used the whole campus as a setting for installations. Some fibers students were inspired by the red poppies blooming everywhere in the valley and decorated the arch leading to the park and opening reception. Overall, the exhibition was a success with around 400 visitors and 152 sales, one every three minutes.

To further celebrate the conclusion of their quarter in Lacoste, students went to Fontaine-de-Vaucluse the day after the exhibition to enjoy a few final moments in Provence before packing up to leave.

Au revoir, Lacoste et bon voyage, students.

Teaching travel photography: the foreign and familiar


The photography department at Savannah College of Art and Design has a wealth of great teachers, many of which have taught the class Travel Photography: The Foreign and Familiar in our study abroad programs. Each one has their own approach to the class, but I am sure that the common thread is to help students find their own voice while traveling abroad. It is my belief that the most difficult places to make distinctive photographs of are often the most picturesque.  Obviously the most beautiful places are also the most photographed.

Shakespeare & Co. by student Annagrace Shelton (B.F.A., photography).

This quarter in Lacoste, our photography students had the opportunity to show their work to Professor Liz Wells, renowned author, critic and curator from Plymouth University, U.K. Liz and I held joint critiques with all of the students with the goal of helping them develop a personal vision of places like Paris and Provence. Liz agreed that the landscape and architecture of Lacoste present the unique problem of being too easy. The clarity and dramatic quality of light, the intense colors of spring flora, and the form of the land seem to make the pictures for you. Often, the result is a postcard view. While that is not a bad thing, it is a bit of a disappointment when you see all the images you made on postcard racks in every village in the region.

The Louvre, photo by student Parker Stewart (B.F.A., photography).

Professors like Craig Stevens and Steve Bliss have challenged students to photograph tourist destinations by giving them creative shooting assignments such as “a picture within a picture” or “a private moment in a public place.”  I love the assignments entitled “Good Dog” and “Bad Tourist.” Forest McMullin's students say that he keeps them so busy they have to come up with new ideas every day. Elizabeth Turk is famous for bringing out the best in her students through positive feedback and encouraging personal expression. I observed Josh Jalbert challenging his travel photography students to discard everything they identify as picturesque and build their portfolios around a unique concept. Meryl Truett is a great role model for travel students with her quirky vision and prolific art practice. Scott Dietrich has always pushed his students to see with exceptional clarity and their work often surpasses that of the professionals who have photographed these places before.

The Rodin Museum, photo by Tom Fischer.

I often suggest my students purchase a postcard when they arrive in a new place so they don’t have to make that picture to prove they were there. It immediately puts them on the hunt for new ways to see a place.

The Pantheon, photo by Tom Fischer.

Tom Fischer is a professor of photography at Savannah College of Art and Design. He is best known for his large-format black and white landscape images, shown in more than 60 exhibitions in galleries and museums in the U.S., Europe and Asia. Tom's awards and honors include: vice chair of the national board of the Society for Photographic Education; the James Borelli Fellowship and the G.B. Cantor Fellowship from Stanford University, as well as being selected as an NEA fellow. He has been nominated three times for U.S. Professor of the Year.

From the pages of 'Vogue' to grad school


I first met Marv Graff (M.F.A., fibers, 2015) while studying abroad at the Savannah College of Art and Design in Lacoste. His unique eye for fashion left quite an impression. (The Metropolitan Museum of Art clearly was equally impressed by Marv, having added a tunic he created to the permanent collection of The Costume Institute.) Marv creates his garments using one of a kind found objects, and the antique markets of Provence were a treasure trove for his creativity. He visited the markets often during his stay in Lacoste and was known among the market owners in Isle Sur la Sorgue as "Mr. Hollywood." Marv created three looks for the 2014 SCAD Fashion Show. It was incredible to see how his explorations in Lacoste carried over to the pieces he showed on the runway at SCAD Museum of Art in Savannah.

Marv in his studio at Pepe Hall.

This first look, shown above, was inspired by an antique fireplace screen Marv found in a shop in Bluffton, South Carolina. Marv loved the way the screen fanned out to like peacock feathers and decided to create a petal skirt in its image, working with a SCAD graduate to laser-cut the screen's pattern into the leather.

Marv's second look started with an antique hoop skirt from Peddler Jim's Antiques in Savannah. Making the skirt was a labor intsensive process, complete with handmade knotting and macrame techniques, and the paired top was even more intricate, taking over 16 hours to make.

Marv's final look was inspired by one of the projects he started when he first came to SCAD. On one of his many antique hunts, he came across a taxidermied, polyurethane shell of a deer and began braiding and knotting over it, starting with the legs. From then on, braided deer antlers became his trademark touch.

Thread: You had a very successful career in New York. When and why did you come to SCAD?

Marv Graff: I came to SCAD in September 2013. I kind of just jumped on a train from New York and came down here. I needed a change.

T: What has changed for you? Why did you decide to leave your career in fashion and jewelry design?

M: I felt like I wasn’t being so creative. I was just gearing everything towards marketing fulfillment and not creative fulfillment. Being at SCAD has brought me back to where I was when I graduated the first time. When I graduated from the University of Nebraska, I was doing really unusual things regarding to body and fashion. I just started making things and selling things in New York and that’s pretty much how my whole career started. I would just take a suitcase full of stuff I had made around for fashion editors and stores to see. But keep in mind, in those days it was pretty easy. Then I came to SCAD because it was my dream to be able to do fashion like this, and it’s amazing that it's happening.

Marv's previous work, created at SCAD Lacoste.

T: What is it about SCAD that spurred that creative drive?

M: When I was in New York, every weekend I’d go to boutiques and galleries and see everything that was new and popular. When I came to Savannah, there was none of that. So I made my own, and that became my goal: to find and create things. I’m also very inspired by the way that SCAD goes about making their classrooms. The buildings are beautiful, and that makes up for the lack of fancy galleries in Savannah, compared to New York City. These buildings become that. Like Morris Hall, the new Fashion Marketing and Managment building and Hayman's Hall, the new Illustration building.

T: What's next for you? Will you return to New York after graduating?

M: I’m keeping my options open to see what happens. I taught at Kansas State University and I was making these sweaters that were hand-loomed on cardboard, and they had feathers and tentacles. I was selling them to stores in New York and the fashion press picked me up at that time. I got a lot of really good press early on. I would say I had Andy Warhol’s 15 minutes of fame when I was there. I won this young designer award, Pré de Cache, but fashion was really hard to produce, and the cost of jewelry was easier for an individual designer without any backing. So that’s how I got into the fashion jewelry industry.

Whichever road Marv should choose, he is sure to have a successful second act, the beginnings of which his followers may just trace back to the runway in Savannah.

Fête d'Automne


What happens when you turn dozens of inventive art students loose on the streets of a medieval village in late October? A Halloween celebration for the ages. Savannah College of Art and Design students imported the festive atmosphere of Halloween here to Provence last week. The annual event started several years ago when students studying in Lacoste wanted to bring their Halloween traditions with them overseas. Now more than 500 villagers celebrate every year with the students, who organize pumpkin carving and face painting workshops for local children.

Revelers traveled from Avignon and Marseille to Lacoste to get a taste of a "real" Halloween party.


The old bakery of the village, the Boulangerie, became the Boo-langerie. During their free time, students spent about a week decorating the main street of the village and transforming studios and classrooms into haunted houses.

Some students bring a costume with them when they pack for France, and some get creative with what they have on hand or find here in Lacoste. Everyone gets excited the few days and hours before the event, posting on Facebook about having face paint or costumes to lend. The festival is an opportunity for the students to come together, relax and spend a great afternoon with the community.

Halloween would not be Halloween without pumpkins. It's a challenge to find the 100 pumpkins needed for the children's carving workshop. A local farmer from the village usually grows the pumpkins especially for SCAD. Though the carving workshop is intense for the student volunteers, seeing the kids walk through the streets of Lacoste with a small carved pumpkin in their hands is plenty of reward.

This year, all of our professors joined the festivities and welcomed visitors into the printmaking studio, which they transformed into a dark catacomb. You don't need many decorations to make a medieval cave look appropriate for Halloween, which is one reason why this festival is here to stay.

Cedric Maros is an events and communications coordinator at Savannah College of Art and Design in Lacoste. He came to SCAD in 2010 after working as a production manager in the movie industry.