Four Artists: Work by Recent Pratt Alumni
Eugenie Tsai, director of Curatorial Affairs at P.S. 1 Contemporary Arts Center in Long Island City, has chosen artists Fay Ku, Rossana Martinez, Jean Shin, and Swoon, all of whom have received degrees from Pratt Institute within the last ten years, to be featured in the exhibition.
Tsai’s choice of these particular artists from Pratt’s large pool of alumni, who are currently making a significant impact on the contemporary art scene both nationally and internationally, came after extensive research and careful consideration of each artist’s style and influence. The exhibition will include drawing, installation art, and site-specific work.
Born in Taiwan, Fay Ku came to the United States at the age of three. Ku graduated from Pratt with a master’s degree in fine arts and a master’s of science in art history, receiving both degrees in 2006. She draws on her personal and cultural history to create large scale drawings and paintings on paper that juxtapose a delicate touch with narrative insight. Part old-world Japanese art and part modern animation, Ku’s elegant line and seductive patterning refer directly to traditional Asian art, while her sharply focused subject matter subverts any decorative connotations by depicting images revolving around issues of childhood and identity. She has had solo exhibitions at Real Art Ways in Hartford, Connecticut, Metaphor Contemporary Art in New York City, and A.I.R. Gallery also in New York.
Born in Puerto Rico, Rossana Martinez received a Pratt Institute master’s degree in fine arts in 1996. Through her environments and installations, Martinez creates experiences, rather than specific objects. Her current installations are simple, playful, and personal. They incorporate the use of common materials, performance, and encourage viewer participation as part of the work. Martinez has exhibited nationally and internationally at such venues as the Bronx Museum of the Arts, El Museo del Barrio, and Metaphor Contemporary Art in New York City, and in Australia, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, and Puerto Rico. She recently participated in the Workspace Residency of the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council and is also the co-founder of Minus Space—a curatorial/critical project based in Brooklyn, New York.
Jean Shin studied painting at Pratt and received a bachelor’s degree in fine arts in 1994 as well as a master’s degree in art history from Pratt in 1996. Her installation artworks evolve into new forms that create imaginary communities through the use of found objects and accumulated cast-offs such as broken umbrellas, scraps of discarded clothing, or old prescription eyeglasses. According to Mary Ceruti, director of the Sculpture Center, “Shin uses discarded material (the excess, the forgotten, the no longer useful) in works that operate between abstraction and representation. Made from the remnants of contemporary urban life, Shin’s sculptures form a sort of visual history and social mapping.” Shin has had a solo project at the Museum of Modern Art and her works have been widely exhibited in the United States and internationally, including New Museum of Contemporary Art, Asia Society, Brooklyn Museum, Socrates Sculpture Park, PKM Gallery (Beijing, China), Ssamzie Space (Seoul, Korea) and Galerie Eric Dupont (Paris). Shin is currently an associate professor in Fine Arts at Pratt.
The artist Swoon, who received a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from Pratt in 2002, often creates a world in her artwork that is populated by realistically rendered and evocatively cut out street people, sometimes using her friends and family, showing them riding bikes, talking on a stoop, or going grocery shopping. The people who traverse a cityscape are of her unique invention. Bridges, fire escapes, water towers, and street signs create crisscrossing shadows and spaces through which her figures move. Inspired by both art historical and folk sources, ranging from German Expressionist wood block prints to Indonesian shadow puppets. Most recently, Swoon was one of the organizers of the Miss Rockaway Armada, a group of performers and artists from all over the country that constructed a flotilla of rafts and journeyed down the Mississippi River. Swoon has been traveling for the past five years creating exhibitions and workshops in the United States and Europe.
Eugenie Tsai is Director of Curatorial Affairs at P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, a MoMA New York affiliate. From 1994 to 2000, Tsai worked at the Whitney Museum of American Art, where she organized numerous exhibitions and artists’ projects for the museum and its branches. As Senior Curator (1998-99) and Associate Director for Curatorial Affairs (1999-2000), she oversaw the Whitney’s permanent collection.