Since the first SVA subway poster went up on platforms around New York City, the series has turned into a Who’s Who of contemporary design, illustration and photography. The posters have been the subject of a hardcover book, School of Visual Arts Gold: Fifty Years of Creative Graphic Design, and since last summer, a traveling exhibition featuring some 50 posters by faculty members past and present. On April 4, “Underground Images” began its three-week run in Belgrade, where it’s installed outdoors along Knez Mihailova Street, one of the Serbian captial’s main pedestrian thoroughfares, heavily trafficked by locals and tourists alike.
To mark the occasion, Jaime Garcia, associate director of Admissions (and a former traveling recruiter for the College), gave a multimedia presentation on the poster series and on SVA in general at Nova Iskra Design Incubator, a work and meeting space for the city’s creative professionals.
“The turnout was so much better than I’d expected,” Garcia says. “I thought there would maybe be 10 or 15 people, but there were over a hundred. The place was at capacity and it was a professional crowd. Many of them already knew a lot about SVA, its legacy and its faculty.”
Borut Vild, a graphic designer and associate professor of media and communications at Serbia’s University Singidunum, had the idea of bringing “Underground Images” to Belgrade after he saw the exhibition last summer in Ljubljana, Slovenia. (This was not Vild’s first interaction with SVA—several faculty members participated in his inaugural Designer: Author or Universal Soldier conference in 2010.) The exhibition is showing in the city as the first event in a series of design- and education-related lectures, workshops and events that he has scheduled throughout 2014. Rather than hang the posters on the walls of a museum or gallery, he decided to show them on the street, to best honor their intended purpose: “They were designed to be shown in a public space,” he said.
Vild’s favorite posters? Milton Glaser‘s Art Is . . . Whatever (1996) and Louise Fili‘s It’s Never too Late to Get to Where You’re Going (2011), which was inspired by the tile mosaics that appear in many New York City subway stations. “Although I am a modernist to the core of my being,” Vild says, “I am a great admirer of [Fili’s] work. The combination of message, historical references and brilliant execution is something I could look at every day.”
“Underground Images” will next be presented at the Central Academy of Fine Arts, in Beijing, from April 12 through May 3, and at the National Museum of Montenegro, in Cetinje, Montenegro, from April 26 through May 16.
Images: “Underground Images” in Belgrade, Serbia; Garcia speaks to Belgrade’s creative community at Nova Iskra; photos courtesy Borut Vild. Louise Fili, It’s Never too Late to Get to Where You’re Going, 2011.