SVA Hosts High School Students From Miami

July 20, 2011

Since July 5, SVA has been hosting 30 students from Miami’s Design Architecture Senior High (DASH) through a new initiative aimed primarily at economically disadvantaged youth called the Young Designers Scholarship Program. The budding artists and designers are in New York to participate in SVA’s Summer Pre-College Program, thanks to a three-way partnership between SVA, DASH and the de la Cruz Collection Contemporary Art Space in Miami.

During the first week of the nearly month-long program, the teens bounced all over New York City, from trips to the Guggenheim and Met, to strolls along the High Line and gallery hopping in Chelsea, to studio visits in DUMBO and a return walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, among many other activities.

They have also had the chance to participate in a series of hands-on workshops. In addition to helping underwrite the experience, the de la Cruz Collection gave the students digital cameras, which they broke in during a day of shooting and instruction with renowned photographer Raissa Venables. For a “drawing on location” workshop led by faculty member John Ruggeri, the students gathered in one of SVA’s Manhattan studios. Ruggeri talked to the group of very attentive high schoolers about proportion and the importance of negative space. “Negative and positive,” he said. “You can’t have one without the other.” As they all stared out the large studio windows looking south over Manhattan, Ruggeri told them to “find a focal point” before smacking his hands together and shouting, “Something that shocks the viewer!”

Before taking to their easels, a few students shared their thoughts with the Briefs about their experiences in New York so far. “Every day has been different,” said Steven, a Fashion Design major at DASH. “When you’re away from everything you know, you’re always in constant shock—we’ve been pulled out of our comfort zones in the best possible way.”

Describing how this environmental jolt has influenced his work, Vladimir, an Industrial Design major at DASH, said, “It’s awesome to have so much independence, it’s been really fun. When we took photos, we could just shoot whatever we wanted to.” Motioning toward Ruggeri, he added, “And this guy blew my mind with what he was saying about space and distance. I’m going to be thinking a lot more about that stuff from now on.”

Mariel, an Architecture major at DASH, immediately mentioned that the trip so far had involved “a lot of walking.” But she also said that it has been an “amazing” experience and that she is now “thinking of moving here.”

The DASH students are now about midway through the Pre-College Program, each having splintered off into various classes ranging from sculpture and drawing, to animation and graphic design. They return to Miami on July 30.

Image: (top) A DASH student draws during John Ruggeri’s workshop. (bottom) Ruggeri works with a DASH student. Photos by Dan Halm.

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