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).

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.

'Waste to Art' exhibit redefines reuse


One last nod to Mother Earth before Earth Month slips away. Behold the thought-provoking and stunning pieces that comprise the Hong Kong exhibition, "Waste to Art." The show is a result of HSBC's partnership with 29 Savannah College of Art and Design freshmen to raise environmental awareness within the bank's community. In three months time, the students made sculptures composed entirely of recycled waste provided by the bank, including plastic, paper, and electronics. The 23 sculptures, which bear the fruit of the students' diverse academic pursuits at SCAD Hong Kong as much as they do an astute social conciousness, will be displayed at HSBC locations until June 22. Additionally, HSBC is considering adding several of the pieces to its permanent art collection, which includes works by Chinese and western artists, like George Chinnery.

"E-body" by Abinanth Ashok (B.F.A., visual effects) and Mariam Zamani (B.F.A., graphic design). Made of cardboard, wire mesh, cable wires, clock, motherboards and printer gears.

E-body represents a human race that contains electronic parts which many of us carelessly discard. It foretells the future of mankind if timely precautions are not made.

"Lai See/Paper Tapestry" by Rhéa Duckworth (B.F.A., advertising) and Rhea Nayar (B.F.A., architecture). Made of newspaper and shredded paper.

Lai See/Paper Tapestry was inspired by one issue: We sought to portray the falling motion of waste entering the landfill, where 25% of Hong Kong's paper ends up.

"Tech Smog" by Anastasia Simone (B.F.A., advertising) and Jonathan 'Jay' Lee( B.F.A., advertising). Made of keyboards and wires.

Tech Smog represents a sinister cloud because this deadly form of pollution is not often brought to light. It's about treating e-waste like dangerous pollution. We believe recycling is not enough. We don’t really want to make something look like waste. We want to make something that looks like art, not just screaming 'recycling.' It's just there quietly and sends you the message that you don’t really have to think about it.

"I wasted time, and now doth time waste me" by Inga Nelli (B.F.A., painting). Made of steel, acrylics and recycled plastic pellets.

The monumental hourglass, with waste trickling down, reinforces the idea that time runs out as waste becomes a permanent part of our nature. Viewers are invited to invert the hourglass.

"Take-A-Waste" by Daniel Kostianos (B.F.A., graphic design). Made of cardboard, cables and bamboo.

Based on the premise of consuming less and reducing more, this piece is made entirely out of discarded computer cables, cardboard and a pair of bamboo sticks rescued from the rubbish bin.

"Plastic is the New Porcelain" by Dawn Bey (B.F.A., fashion). Made of plastic bottles and wax.

By making plastic bottles resemble modern-day Ming vases, this piece elevates the status of such material into imperial ornaments, leading viewers to reflect on the widespread usage of plastic in our society today. I melted wax and dipped the plastic bottles and coated them a few times until they look really smooth, like porcelain. I made three types of bottles: plain, a layer of rice paper under a layer of wax, and wax printed on wax. All made of classic Chinese imagery like bamboo and plum blossoms.

"SPLURT" by Andre Ho, (B.F.A., interactive design and game development), Ellen Siu (B.F.A., interior design) and Jenn Lam (B.F.A., illustration). Made of shredded paper and foam.

This piece symbolizes the excessive use of paper in Hong Kong, showing that our landfills are overflowing and warning us that it soon may fill our streets.

"Stained City" by Jeselle Leung (B.F.A., photography). Made of plastic bottle labels and steel.

When will we start to take care of the place that we live in? A city made from waste prompts viewers to reflect on how they are affecting the community.

"E Bird" by Wesley Yau (B.F.A., visual effects) and James Hou (B.F.A., fashion marketing and management). Made of wires, metal, and CDs.

We love nature; and since birds are fragile creatures, we have created this bird sculpture to raise public awareness of e-waste harming animals in Hong Kong. 

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.