A fashionable conversation: Brandon Maxwell and Ray A. Smith


“I’ve never had this many people listen to me talk,” Brandon Maxwell said, peering out at a packed SCAD Museum of Art theater, “although my family is close to this size.”

The quip from the designer was nearly as revealing as one of his deep-V dresses.

Since launching his eponymous label in 2015, Maxwell’s strong, structural garments have been worn and adored by Kate Hudson, Jennifer Lawrence, Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey. Winner of the Fashion Group International Rising Star Award for Womenswear, the 32-year-old Maxwell has served as Lady Gaga’s fashion director since 2012. Yet his conversation with Wall Street Journal style reporter Ray A. Smith before a rapt crowd of SCAD students emphasized family over celebrity.

“My grandmother was a buyer who ran a clothing store,” Maxwell said of his east Texas boyhood. “Watching her set up every accessory and every shoe and every dress as all the women would come in, that’s where I learned to be a stylist. She made sure I had the tools to make things. I’d make outfits, put extensions in my girlfriends’ hair, dress them up and shoot photographs of them. I do the same thing now that I did was I was 10, 11, 12 years old. I was creating all the time.”

Prompted by Smith, Maxwell recounted his eventual arrival in New York, and his first adult gigs styling under art directors Deborah Afshani, Edward Enninful and Nicola Formichetti: “The through-story with all of them was they are kind people who treat other people really well. I learned you could have success and still be nice to people.”

Dressed in casual solid separates and buckled chukka boots, the affable Maxwell described his eventual leap to designing his first collection under his own name: “I didn’t think anyone would respond to it. I wasn’t in there sewing and thinking, ‘Wow, this is going to be super impactful!’”

Think again, Brandon. Bergdorf Goodman senior VP Linda Fargo bought the entire collection to be sold at the legendary New York department store.

Since then, Maxwell has been fêted widely while working incessantly to grow his label, creating four collections a year. When Smith asked if he was concerned people might believe his success is contingent on his long-term association with Lady Gaga, Maxwell replied: “Fantastic! I’m 100% fine with that, and 100% proud of the work we’ve created together for years.”

The SCAD students in attendance seemed to lean forward en masse as Maxwell concluded with some practical philosophy.

“There’s a lot of competition. Don’t let that fear bring you into circles of people who are not close to what you inherently are as a person,” Maxwell said.

“Never forget that your ideas are your ideas. When you have any success and everybody starts to chime in on what you should do and how you should act and what you should say, go look at yourself in the mirror and remember who you are. When everyone leaves you and the clothes aren’t popular, all you have is you. Stay by that and you’ll be fine.”

The applause began. Maxwell wasn’t done. “And call your mom!”

Year in review: Top 16 SCAD moments of 2016


Before we say goodbye to 2016, let’s take a look at some of the year's most outstanding moments. From incredible exhibitions to prestigious awards to one-of-a-kind events, we tally up the year's most memorable moments.

1. President Wallace published her memoir
SCAD President and Founder Paula Wallace released her memoir, “The Bee and The Acorn,” a touching account of the history of the university, from the purchase of SCAD's first building to its global expansion.

2. Legendary fashion designer Carolina Herrera’s inaugural museum exhibition
SCAD honored the 35-year reign of the House of Herrera with the designer's first-ever museum retrospective: “Refined Irreverence.” The exhibition featured 99 garments in an expansive dual museum presentation — another first of its kind. In December, SCAD traveled part of the exhibition to Lincoln Center in New York, where Herrera was honored with the Women's Leadership Award.

3. First virtual reality musical premiered at 19th Savannah Film Festival
At this year’s festival, “Say It With Music,” the first-ever virtual reality musical, made its debut. Created entirely by SCAD students, the short film enjoyed a rapturous reception.

4. Daniel Lismore’s sartorial collection exhibited twice
SCAD FASH opened the year with “Be Yourself; Everyone Else is Already Taken,” the first U.S. museum exhibition featuring the work of artist, stylist and designer Daniel Lismore. Daniel and SCAD joined at year's end for “Theater of Self,” a joint exhibition with Bin Feng (M.F.A. photography candidate) at SCAD at Miami, which opened during Art Basel.

5. Savannah Women of Vision honored on Georgia Day
SCAD celebrated of Georgia Day with the investiture of the Savannah Women of Vision in Arnold Hall, unveiling 10 relief sculptures commissioned in tribute to the remarkable ideas and insightful leadership of Savannah’s most distinguished women were installed at Arnold Hall.

6. Men’s and women’s fishing teams launched
SCAD introduced fishing to its roster of competitive athletic teams, making history as the first university to offer a women’s varsity fishing team.

7. SCAD Museum of Art celebrates 5th anniversary
Rising from the ruins of the nation's oldest antebellum railroad depot, SCAD MOA celebrated its five-year anniversary this fall. Since its opening in 2011, the museum has garnered honors including the American Institute of Architects Institute Honor Award for Architecture; Congress for the New Urbanism, Charter Award; and Historic Savannah Foundation, Preservation Award.

8. Alumnus Jeffrey Taylor won 9th Annual Supima Design Competition
Jeffrey Taylor (B.F.A. fashion, 2016) and his award-winning collection, “Tibet Garden,” appeared on the Paris runway in September at the Supima Design Competition Presentation. The young designer made his official runway debut at the 2016 SCAD Fashion Show in May. This is the second consecutive Supima win for SCAD students, on the heels of Kate McKenna’s win last year.

9. 2016 SCAD catalog is the first to feature augmented reality experience
SCAD pioneered the use of augmented reality (AR) technology to create the first AR-driven university catalog produced and designed entirely by a university. With over 100 AR features on 85 trackable pages, users can view student media reels, tour residence halls, live chat with admission representatives, and more.

10. aTVfest live streamed “The Mindy Project” panel for Savannah
For the first time in the annual television festival’s history, students in Savannah were able to join Atlanta audiences for a live-streamed episode of “The Mindy Project,” as well as a Q&A session with show writers, including Mindy Kaling herself.

11. SCAD FASH debuts first historical retrospectives
Threads of History: 200 Years of Fashion” and “Embellished: Adornment Through the Ages” presented a rare chronology of European and American garments and accessories from the 18th through 20th centuries. Both exhibitions are on display through March 19, 2017.

12. Equestrian team named champions
Once again, SCAD’s elite equestrian team won the American National Riding Commission (ANRC) National Championship, Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA) National Championship and Tournament of Champions (TOC) series. No other university can claim this “triple crown” achievement, let alone for two consecutive years.

13. SCAD FASH celebrates first birthday
October 2016 saw the first anniversary of SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion + Film — the only museum of its kind. In its first year, SCAD FASH welcomed 25,000 guests and hosted five unique exhibitions, including the inaugural exhibit “Oscar de la Renta.”

14. SCAD Atlanta sheltered Savannah students during Hurricane Matthew
In an unprecedented move, SCAD evacuated 1,300 students from Savannah to SCAD Atlanta as Hurricane Matthew approached the Atlantic coast. SCAD students channeled this change into creative pursuits and community service. Together with President Wallace, the students presented Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta with a painted mural to be used as a theater backdrop, as well as storytelling props.

15. Visionary Voices of the Civil Rights Movement honored
In September, a historical marker was placed at the entrance of SCAD’s Jen Library in dedication to the courage of Savannah students during the 1960s Civil Rights Movement. SCAD held a ceremony featuring performances by SCAD alumni and Masud Olufani and Brittany Bosco.

16. SCAD hosted its first Thanksgiving feast
More than 1,000 students celebrated Thanksgiving on campus in Savannah this year. In addition to the festive feast and grand dessert, the SCAD Museum of Art hosted workshops, games, film screenings and more.

'Tis the season for #BEEGiving


SCAD recognizes that unexpected financial emergencies can affect a student’s ability to fully realize his or her creative endeavors. In response, the university created the SCAD Student Relief Fund, offering monetary assistance to SCAD students with extenuating circumstances and demonstrated financial need.

Starting this Friday, SCAD presents multiple opportunities to contribute to the SCAD Student Relief Fund. Special tie-ins include:

  • Nov. 25, “Black Friday”: SCAD will contribute a portion of SCAD Museum of Art (SCADMOA) and SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion + Film membership and merchandise sales to the Student Relief Fund. ShopSCAD will host a Black Friday sale in-store, with a portion of each sale benefiting the fund.
  • Nov. 28, “Cyber Monday”: SCAD will contribute a portion of SCAD Museum of Art (SCADMOA) and SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion + Film membership sales to the Student Relief Fund. ShopSCAD will sell SCAD FASH 300 items on shopscad.com, with SCAD contributing a portion of sales to the Student Relief Fund. In addition, those shopping on Amazon can select SCAD through AmazonSmile to donate a portion of their purchase to the fund.
  • Nov. 29, “Giving Tuesday”: Take the opportunity to contribute directly to the Student Relief Fund by visiting scad.edu/giving.

Throughout the campaign, those shopping Amazon online can select SCAD through AmazonSmile to donate a portion of their purchase to the fund.

Each donation to the Student Relief Fund provides direct assistance to deserving students, and every gift to SCAD supports the university’s mission of preparing talented students for creative careers.

Happy #BEEGiving, and thanks in advance for supporting SCAD students during this season of giving!

Celebrate 5 years with the SCAD Museum of Art!


SCAD is proud to invite you to the SCAD Museum of Art’s five-year anniversary celebration! Join the festivities during the opening reception for six new exhibitions Thursday, Nov. 10, starting at 4:30 p.m.

The evening will start with gallery talks by artists Michael Joo, Jose Dávila and Radcliffe Bailey. Artist receptions will include a performance of “Astra Black, Afro Blue: An Extemporaneous Exploration of the Blues and its Diasporic Evolution” by Bailey and DJ Karl Injex in the museum’s courtyard. Injex is an award-winning DJ who has developed music for notable clients such as Puma, Red Bull, The Mercer Kitchen and The Standard Hotels.

The new exhibitions will be on view for the following dates:

Sound Advice: Erik Aadahl at Savannah Film Festival


What do a flying dumpling, an irate mob, and an asteroid striking Earth have in common?

The answer, of course, is Erik Aadahl.

As sound designer on “Kung Fu Panda,” “Argo,” and “Tree of Life,” Aadahl created the aural experiences for those on-screen events. On Friday, October 29, at the Savannah Film Festival, sound-savvy SCAD students and intrigued festivalgoers packed the SCAD Museum of Art theater as Aadahl discussed his work with host Michael Coleman (SoundWorks Collection).

SCAD, the first and only university to confer B.F.A., M.A. and M.F.A. degrees in sound design, provided the ideal venue for Aadahl’s insights.

“Think of sound like painting,” explained Aadahl. “If you use too many colors on your canvas and smear them together, it turns brown. A lot of times the trick is simplicity and imagining beforehand what you might be going for.”

Having worked with directors as diverse as Michael Bay (the “Transformers” series), Terrence Malick (“Tree of Life”), and Gareth Edwards (“Godzilla”), Aadahl pinpointed commonalities in his process: “It begins with the script. Read the script and start a discussion with the director. A lot of times filmmakers won’t even hear the sound until they get to the mixing stage, which is terrible. As soon as a scene starts to get cut together, do a pass on the sound and get it into the Avid. That allows sound to evolve with the picture. Sound affects the emotion of the scene, it affects the tempo. It helps inform the rest of the process.”

Aadahl enhanced his “Creating the Sound for Hollywood Movies” presentation with audio and film clips, emphasizing the interplay between sound and image. Running a serrated plastic knife down the tracks of a rubber tire, he revealed, led to one of his team’s most terrifying monster movie motifs.

“One thing we really enjoy doing is trying new things. A lot of experimentation went into creating the sounds for the characters from ‘Godzilla.’ We pulled in hundreds of props and played with them. One technique was using high-resolution microphones five times the range of human hearing. So there’s all this invisible sonic information in those recordings, but once it’s slowed down it becomes audible.”

Aadahl often records small things to massive effect, whereby “micro becomes macro.”

“In ‘Transformers’ we’ve got these enormous footsteps. One of my favorite ‘footsteps’ is made by slamming the door of my dryer at home. Slow it down and beef it up and it becomes huge.”   

A ripple of delight ran through the theater when Aadahl screened the “Kung Fu Panda” sequence where pupil and teacher grapple over the last steamed dumpling. Every chopstick click and slurping tongue sounded epic.

“When Po catches the dumpling and tosses it and says ‘I’m not hungry,’ then Shifu catches it and throws it off-screen,” Aadahl pointed out. “We were finishing the film and screened it for the Chinese distributors. They said, ‘That’s very disrespectful to throw away food.’ It was a big cultural issue. So we added the rrring! sound of a dumpling landing in a bowl off-screen.”

Sound decision, master. 

Masud Olufani: The artist as concatenator


Masud Olufani is a reverse seer. He portrays history as more than an academic exercise; he enacts legacy as an existential necessity. Masud’s recent solo exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia (MOCA GA) and his current show at the SCAD Museum of Art (SCAD MOA) explore the lacunae in the ancestral memory of the disenfranchised.

Masud creates a poignant, brilliant visual essay upon themes of memory and connectedness in the soundscapes, drawings, and sculptures in his SCAD MOA exhibition “Imprint: Past as Prologue.” The eye is immediately drawn to Masud’s sculpture “To Gut,” a wooden house with a gable roof, neatly bisected by a two-man saw. With an unfinished and charred frame, the house appears on the brink of proving the adage “A house divided cannot stand.” This sculpture is flanked by two compelling rows of portraits. “Tight Packers: Excerpts 1-7” stands out as an allusion to both the horrifying conditions enslaved captives were subjected to in the holds of ships and the modern counterpart – prison cells. Each graphite illustration of an African American man is tucked inside a sardine can with a lid that reveals a numeric inmate identifier. Next, two pairs of headphones invite visitors to experience “Chorus of Memory,” a balletic orchestration of oral genealogies collected from and recorded by a host of individuals, including SCAD faculty, staff, and students whom Masud interviewed during his SCAD residency.

In his multi-media triumph, “Poetics of the Disembodied,” Masud plaited personal, communal, and imagined experience to reconstruct stories of people of African descent. He stood in the narrative gap as he stepped into tabby slave cabins in a series of photographs by Davion Alston. His recent MOCA GA exhibition, including the photographs created with Davion during Masud’s SCAD Alumni Atelier residency, permitted no passive bystanders, no innocent parties.

“Listeners/Witnesses of the Trade,” created by Masud at SCAD Savannah, presented a deceptively halcyon front. There were shells resting on a bed of sand, hemmed in by a projection of the sea. Only, the shells were not shells; they were the currency that buoyed the Transatlantic slave trade. The enslaved people were notably, hauntingly absent. Masud wielded absence as masterfully as he did performance, poetry, sculpture, and other media in the show – how better to symbolize the systematic elision of memory?

Masud Olufani’s work is timely and transcendent, giving voice to the voiceless and legacy to the disinherited. He expresses deeply held views without compromise or violence. When delivering the 2016 SCAD alumni address at the SCAD Atlanta commencement ceremony, Masud said: “Never forget that once the work leaves you and enters the purview of the public, you are helping to shape the way we see the world. We are like stones cast into a vast sea of creativity and even the smallest rocks make ripples.” Masud shapes the way we see the world by telling the stories, by linking generations.

Check it Out:  “Imprint: Past as Prologue,” SCAD Museum of Art, Aug. 16-Oct. 16

Through the Lens: Carolina Herrera's 'Refined Irreverence'


What can you expect when visiting Carolina Herrera’s dual exhibition, ‘Refined Irreverence,’ at SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion and Film in Atlanta and SCAD Museum of Art in Savannah, Georgia? A dazzling retrospective of more than 75 garments that celebrate Herrera’s iconic 35 years in fashion. From her timeless inaugural collection to the most recent line that graced the runway, you will experience the designer’s modern, dynamic classics. Take a peek at what these visitors captured on their Instagrams.


#SCADfash #carolinaherrera #refinedirreverence #savannah

A photo posted by Lindsay Fleege (@lindsfleege) on


Carolina Herrera: Refined Irreverence SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion & Film Now thru Sept 25

A photo posted by Rasheed Crawford (@raragram) on


#tbt to this gold number by Carolina Herrera from 1986. #ATL #scadfash #sameageasme #hotlanta #80sfashion #highfashion

A photo posted by andrea martens (@leighdrea) on


#scadfash #museum #carolinaherrera

A photo posted by Greece Needs Love (@greeceneedslove) on


All dressed up and everywhere to go @scadmoa @houseofherrera #scad #scadmoa #carolinaherrera #fashion

A photo posted by @michellemenner on

‘Refined Irreverence’ is on display through Saturday, September 4, in Savannah and Sunday, September 25, in Atlanta.

Dixieland, promised land: Stephanie Howard’s Southern mythmaking


The mesmeric pen and ink drawings of Stephanie Howard (B.F.A. painting) portray a disquieting backwater of the American South. Populated by somnolent children, small-town Carolina Shag queens, wild animals and disorienting scenes of illusion, Stephanie’s hypnotic works blend into a folkloric mythology all her own. An exhibition of her work, “Time and Place and Eternity,” is in its final week at the SCAD Museum of Art.

Stephanie Howard art, Time and Place and Eternity

SCAD: In “Time and Place and Eternity,” the majority of your works employ only pen and ink. What do you find most appealing about that medium?

STEPHANIE HOWARD: The directness of it, just putting a pen to paper, no mixing of paints or other mediums, no printing or processing. The fine-line quality of the pen also feels like thread to me, and as I work with the paper over time, it becomes more malleable, taking on more of a cloth feel. While I am working on the drawings, I think of them more as embroidery.

Stephanie Howard, SCAD Museum of Art exhibition

SCAD: Your work is propelled by labor-intensive patterns that on occasion seem to form optical illusions, as if the works themselves are moving. What do the complexity of patterns mean to you in your art?

HOWARD: In my art I am traveling through these other “worlds” as I create them, so the physical execution of the patterns helps to keep me in a sort of meditative state while I process all of the visual parts, manipulate images and put together pieces of stories. I have always loved layered patterns and I think it triggers the eye to start searching for something that makes sense, a respite of a known entity to cling to. By knowing and using that, I can act as a guide for the viewer as they move through the drawing. That movement the patterns add also creates a living quality, so that the drawing is not a document of a thing that happened, but rather a window into a moment that is forever happening.

SCAD: You’ve spent much of your life in the Greenville, South Carolina area. How does that influence the mythology found throughout your work?

HOWARD: I am from upstate South Carolina, but the stories I heard growing up came from all parts of the state. I was also always surrounded by remnants of once grand southern towns, now empty because the mill shut down or the interstate had bypassed them. This left me with some amazing bare bones, an arsenal of my own stories to tell, and a mix of some very potent magic symbols to throw in.

SCAD: If I were sitting in your studio, what would I see?

HOWARD: Collections. Records chock-full of soul! Antiques that somehow seem strange or creepy to most folks, stacks of old books, my drawing table which takes up most of the room, cats sleeping on scraps of paper, and windows that look out onto the giant water oak in my front yard. My studio is on the second floor of my house, an old mill house around 100 years old. It has character and energy — we are kindred spirits in the overwhelming need to persevere in a timeless South.

SCAD: What do you remember most fondly about your time at SCAD?

HOWARD: I had some amazing professors who helped me to not limit myself. I loved the diversity of the student body and the visiting artists. SCAD was my first opportunity to see famous artists who were in history books … and famous artists who were women! I remember Audrey Flack stopped by one of my painting classes one day and walked around looking at our work — I think I might have held my breath the entire time she was in the room.

Stephanie Howard’s “Time and Place and Eternity” is on view at the SCAD Museum of Art through June 19th.

Carolina Herrera is coming to town!


Fashion Show weekend is here! Come see Carolina Herrera receive the SCAD Étoile in recognition of her outstanding contributions to fashion, culture and design, Friday at 2 p.m. in the theater of Arnold Hall, 1810 Bull Street. Stick around afterward to hear the legendary designer share insights into her career.

And don’t forget to visit “Refined Irreverence,” a dual exhibition of Herrera’s work opening this Friday at SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion + Film and the SCAD Museum of Art. This selection of Herrera’s runway, bridal and red-carpet gowns curated by Rafael Gomes, SCAD director of fashion exhibitions, celebrates the 35th anniversary of the House of Herrera and is the first museum showing of Herrera’s designs. The exhibition also celebrates SCAD’s first concurrent show at both SCAD FASH and SCAD Museum of Art since 2011.

This retrospective of more than 75 garments will feature new and vintage Herrera designs, from her 1981 inaugural collection to the present. The sweeping presentation will include gowns worn by Michelle Obama, Taylor Swift, Tina Fey, Renée Zellweger and Lucy Liu, as well as works from Herrera’s personal collection.

You won’t want to miss the chance to see these timeless classics in person!

Bringing Brothers Back: The Ladds’ Rad SCAD Collab


This spring, deFINE ART featured “Blood Brothers,” the first comprehensive museum exhibition of the stunning artisanal craftsmanship of Steven and William Ladd. The event became the touchpaper for the siblings’ more recent return visit. As executive director of SCAD Museum of Art and exhibitions Melissa Messina explains: “We utilized the Ladds’ time here during deFINE ART as ‘research and development.’ They sat in on classes and toured SCAD’s facilities. It was a way to translate their infectious enthusiasm to our faculty, who saw what a great learning opportunity a workshop with the Ladds would be for our students.”

Back in their New York studio after deFINE ART, the brothers began assembling the hand-hewn boxes that would form the composite frame for an epic endeavor. They simultaneously sent directions down to Savannah, where 90 SCAD students across six departments started dyeing, stitching, printing, painting, photographing, glazing and beading within prescribed parameters. The collaboration was underway.

The Ladds’ core precepts — “Spend your life doing what you love. Be focused and disciplined. Collaborate.” — have guided their Scrollathon public projects in Brooklyn, Miami, San Diego, and their hometown, Kansas City. They imparted these values upon SCAD students when they returned last week, workshopping the assignments-from-afar to create a single artwork, a cobwebbed cerulean cosmos called A Place in Time. The piece is now part of the permanent collection of the SCAD Museum of Art.

SCAD: You sent assignments for students to complete prior to your arrival. Did that prove effective?

Steven: Even the odd miscommunication gained something in translation. We wrote that we wanted the ceramics students to make black and gold rings. What we meant was black rings, and gold rings. What we got were black-and-gold rings. And of course it was better! It’s a lesson: in collaboration, communication affects outcome.

SCAD: There is an unseen element to this artwork. How did it come about?

Steven: When we got down here, we had two-and-a-half hour classes with different departments. We were in the print room and decided, let’s do something with the nine-and-a-half-inch square box lids. One student took a print and fitted it into a lid. It was great, so we said, every student do that, and it’ll be a non-visible component to the finished piece. And the students were like, “Yeah! It’ll be hidden! That’s so cool!”

SCAD: How receptive have SCAD students been to your vision?

William: One thing we were really invested in is this idea that the students were fulfilled. The collaborative element was key. We didn’t want them to feel like they were interns. We wanted to make sure they felt a sense of ownership of what was being created. The fiber students were like, “No artist has come to our department and wanted to collaborate with us before,” so that means a lot to us. This was our first time collaborating with students at a university, and we wanted to know, should we keep doing this? Honestly, it’s been great.

Steven: Now we want to go to every SCAD location and create work with students, then bring it all together. It’ll be a way to show collaboration throughout all of SCAD’s campuses. We’re hoping it happens.