ISSUE II – SAFETY & ACCESSIBILITY – FA 2018
THE PRATTLER | CULTURE & COMMUNITY
WE ARE HERE
ILLUSTRATION BY AMI CAI
CARLY TAGEN DYE Though I have only been a student at Pratt for a short time, I have already experienced difficulty finding students who look like me around campus. As a Hispanic writer and artist, it has always been a challenge to find other creatives in my minority group. College is not much different. During the 2017-18 academic year, Hispanic and Latino undergraduate students made up only 10% of Pratt’s population, with graduate students only reaching 8%. There are many complexities to being a minority on campus. According to Robert Ferdman of the Washington Post, more than 80% of undergraduate art school degrees are obtained by white people, leaving Hispanic and Latino artists fighting harder for recognition. Aside from the feelings of isolation, there is a pressure to represent ourselves well. In a way, we speak for our minority group through what we create. We rarely have professors or speakers who look like us; it becomes our job to showcase instead. The lack of diversity only continues to follow us after graduation, and can lead to larger problems. Art is a subjective field, yet the people making a
career out of their work are the white majority. Ferdman states, “Latino artists are the most underrepresented demographic, making up only 1.2 percent of artists represented by New York galleries.” Despite being the largest minority group in the country, Hispanic and Latinos often cannot find their work displayed or reap the benefits.
“ART IS A SUBJECTIVE FIELD, YET THE PEOPLE MAKING A CAREER OUT OF THEIR WORK ARE THE WHITE MAJORITY.” While an art degree is not required to be featured in the Met, it certainly helps. The skills learned at college lead to improvement and recognition in the future. With that in mind, the representation of Hispanic and Latino artists on campus is crucial, and must be further considered. Whether through policies like Affirmative Action or bringing in artists who look like us, a difference can be made. Our careers start here. Having a solidified sense of community will only build confidence and ensure that our voices are equally important.
THE SANCTITY OF THE STUDIO
The confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh, despite credible accusations of sexual assault against him, has dominated news and minds nationwide. The sixth floor of Pratt’s Main Hall is not free of this discourse, and in addition to the widespread support of the #MeToo movement, its influence has urged painting students to create work based on their experiences. Seniors Maya Tajchman and Kelly Lynch weighed in on their endeavors of painting about trauma as part of their thesis work. Tajchman’s work explores straightforward depictions of trauma in bodily shades of yellow and ochre, with figures expressing distress. These scenes show struggle in the face of assault. Lynch’s paintings feature landscapes of apocalyptic scenes and wounded nude figures in subdued palettes. Emphasizing the forlorn atmosphere, the viewer is effectively tossed into these worlds where pain is commonplace.
feels to make work that seems closed off to discussion, “I think it’s important to have other people around that you can talk to about your work and not feel weird with.” She emphasizes that her more secluded studio provides a stronger sense of privacy, but doesn’t always help with opening up in critiques with other students, “It makes me feel more defensive of what I’m doing. . .I want to be more open about what my work is about.” By using art to examine trauma, Tajchman and Lynch are working toward opening discussions that promote healing rather than violence. With the expressive platform painting provides, the only option is to create necessary change.
“YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO PRIVACY. . .I’M SO USED TO TRYING TO PROVE MYSELF THAT THIS DIDN’T OCCUR TO ME BEFORE.” When asked about the influence of the current political scene on her work, Tajchman states, “I think people are really focused on talking about their experiences, and what’s happening right now is giving them more courage and permission to talk about the things that they’ve been through.” She continued by discussing her voice as an artist and the shift she made towards explicitly depicting her experiences. “You have the right to privacy. . .I’m so used to trying to prove myself that this didn’t occur to me before.” Privacy is key when the painting studio is a doorless space open to collaboration and conversation. Kelly Lynch discusses how it
PHOTO BY AARON COHEN
CULTURE & COMMUNITY | THE PRATTLER
THE PRATTLER | CULTURE & COMMUNITY
PHOTO BY SAMUEL HERRERA
A SPACE OF OUR OWN KATIE VOGEL The 2018-19 school year marks Pratt’s Clean Cats College Recovery Community’s (CRC) second year of availability to Pratt students. For those in or pursuing recovery from drug and alcohol addiction, CRCs offer access to peer support, sober social events, accountability, and academic and mental health services, along with other opportunities to allow for a full college experience while continuing in their recovery journeys. Pratt’s community, Clean Cats, also extends membership to individuals struggling from other addictive behaviors, such as eating disorders. And, for the first time, Clean Cats offers 24 hour access to a community space. This past summer, I had a list of ‘to-do’s and ‘to-join’s for my first year at Pratt. Some items came and went, but one I remained determined to find was a community of recovery-minded individuals. Looking back on my first month and a half here, I cannot imagine my experience without Clean Cats, which I frequently use as both refuge and a quiet space outside of weekly meetings. I talked to another member about what the experience was like last year without the physical Clean Cats site, who shared that,
“It was hard on the days [I was] feeling really low,” elaborating that they had to reserve the classroom in Willoughby and pick up a key from security to get inside for meetings each week. “It never really felt like a completely safe space because. . .it wasn’t ours.”
“...I CANNOT IMAGINE MY EXPERIENCE WITHOUT CLEAN CATS, WHICH I FREQUENTLY USE AS BOTH REFUGE AND A QUIET SPACE OUTSIDE OF WEEKLY MEETINGS.” As I sit in the room now and look at the books, posters, and other markers signifying that this space is ours, I reflect on how it becomes so much more than just a place for us to meet and to share our struggles and successes. The room becomes both a physical reminder of what we are working toward and a symbol of the many people who, though on their own paths, are also there to support us. This expands the reach of the community beyond weekly meetings and gives us more agency in our recoveries by having the freedom to come and go as we please, without restriction.
SAFETY ON CAMPUS IN TRUMP’S AMERICA One year ago, the Trump Administration revoked an Obama-era policy that directed college campuses on how to better protect victims of sexual assault. Under Title IX, a federal civil rights law that states no person can be excluded from any education program on the basis of sex, the policy instructed universities to develop aggressive methods to combat sexual assault including a standard of proof aimed at more easily holding perpetrators accountable for their actions. Under this Obama-era practice, it became significantly easier for the victims to be believed and get the protections they deserve. Within schools, this could include anything from restraining orders against the accused to banning perpetrators from classrooms and dormitories. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos abolished this directive in September 2017, removing instructions for campuses to do more for victims. Now, according to an article recently published in the New York Times, the Trump Administration is preparing to propose further standards that diminish the rights of victims and bolster the rights of their abusers. The new proposal narrows the definition of sexual assault and would not hold the schools accountable for all reportings. Additionally, the new standard would only offer aid to victims whose assault occurred on campus as opposed to all student survivors. In America, where up to 25% of college women and up to 15% of college men are victims of forced sex, this Trumpera policy is a major setback in human rights. Thankfully, there are organizations that are looking out for students. Rachel Greenburg, chair of New York-based research and advocacy non-profit SAFER, states, “As advocates for survivors of campus sexual assault, we call on DeVos and the Trump administration to stop this illconceived attack on the federal government’s critically important role in making the nation’s campuses safer for all students.” During this trying time where the highest branches of government refuse to acknowledge victims, it is important to remember that we still have the power to enact change. Brave women like Dr. Christine Blasey Ford have inspired survivors of sexual assault to stand up and be heard.
“THE NEW PROPOSAL NARROWS THE DEFINITION OF SEXUAL ASSAULT AND WOULD NOT HOLD THE SCHOOLS ACCOUNTABLE FOR ALL REPORTINGS.”
ILLUSTRATION BY MAURA KELLY
CULTURE & COMMUNITY | THE PRATTLER
6 THE PRATTLER | ISSUE II FEATURE
PHOTOGRAPHS BY AARON COHEN
BY NICK HAIR
hen Pratt Institute was founded in 1888, the library’s original location was in Main Hall. It was the first free public library in Brooklyn, open to anyone seeking knowledge. As a result of the widespread accessibility and growth of Pratt as a mechanical training school, the library outgrew its space and has resided in its current location since 1896. Despite several renovations over the past century, the library still retains the majority of its original architectural aesthetic. The architect responsible, William Tubby, also designed Pratt’s South Hall, noticeable in both buildings’ Germanstyle Romanesque Revival rounded arches called ‘Rundbogenstil.’ In order to understand where the library is now with regards to its function on campus, it is important to be cognizant of both its history and role in the community. Our library is one of the most essential buildings to student life on campus because it is the only space in which students from every major cross paths. Thus, when seemingly
innocuous changes are made to it, everyone is affected. As the campus grows, the library must adapt to the needs of the student body, which is where it presently finds itself: at the intersection of tradition and functionality. Over the summer there was a significant shifting and replacing of the tables and chairs, most notably in the East reading room. All of the wooden and fabric chairs in the reading rooms and nearly the rest of the library have been replaced by molded plastic ones with chromed legs. The East reading room’s couches have been removed, the scanning station taken out and all of the long oak tables replaced by laminated circular tables, though there are a few rectangular ones with wheeled legs. Of the four plastic chairs surrounding them only two of the chairs can be completely tucked under the table while the other two will run into the table legs. The overall square footage of table space for studying is reduced, and there are even less power outlets for plugging in laptops. The room looks more like a middle school cafeteria than a library.
Pratt’s Library Director, Mr. Russell Abell met with me to discuss the alterations made to the library, and was attentive to addressing all of my questions. The changes in seating was a long time in the making, as the result of a student and alumni survey unanimously concluded that the chairs were uncomfortable and needed replacing. This was phased in over a year ago, starting with the Alumni Reading room.
“. . . THE LIBRARY MUST ADAPT TO THE NEEDS OF THE STUDENT BODY, WHICH IS WHERE IT PRESENTLY FINDS ITSELF: AT THE INTERSECTION OF TRADITION AND FUNCTIONALITY.”
I was assured that none of the library’s original 1890s oak tables had been removed or destroyed, but moved to the West side of the floor. According to Mr. Abell, the library has become a catch-all venue for larger Pratt events such as orientations, speaking engagements and ceremonies, prompting the library to provide more flexible equipment. The furniture choices were a split decision in which the administration gave the library little oversight in a matter not only nuanced, but directly relevant to the operation and dynamic of the library itself. This is a recurring issue at Pratt in which a good intention is met with poor execution. The pattern has manifested in the newly renovated cafeteria with fresh seating, a designated smoothie bar, as well as the Pratt store’s new location. And yet, the lines are still just as long, the food is more expensive, and it doesn’t come close to the quality that our tuition would imply. As Pratt grows, it is important to consciously weigh the outcomes of the changes made by our institution’s leadership and consider whether or not those adjustments are needed, wanted, or ultimately effective.
ISSUE II FEATURE | THE PRATTLER
The overall objective of a campus library is to facilitate an environment of dedicated scholarship and productivity rather than to serve as a meeting place at large. It is more than just a repository for books–it represents a gateway to knowledge that should do everything to encourage learning and nothing to hinder it. Libraries are a historically recognized cornerstone of our society; thus, seemingly harmless details such as interior design deeply impact the library’s mission, calling into question the decision-making process behind such moves and whether or not they ultimately benefit the students they directly affect.
ILLUSTRATION BY OLIVIA KWIATKOWSKI
THE PRATTLER | THOUGHTS
INTERNET PRIVACY UMA SMITH One night in the Pratt labs, my computer crashed. To fix it, the technician had to take control of my computer, and while doing so, showed me how he could spy on every computer in the room. As fun and harmless as this was, it represents a far broader and troubling issue of digital privacy. Companies trade our information constantly, and though they state that our privacy is of utmost importance to them, they’re not hack proof. In this year alone, Facebook lost at least 87 million records—and that’s not even the biggest case. The record information of every single Indian citizen (1.1 billion people) was compromised when India’s national identification database, Aadhaar, was breached. One of the most striking instances can be seen in the case of a low-level hacker who accessed a baby-monitor, causing a father to hear a voice telling his baby, “Wake up, you little slut.” Unfortunately, that wasn’t an isolated incident, and baby monitors are arguably one of the safer hacks.
In 2017, security firm Trend Micro published a report detailing how cars can be hacked to turn off security features, locking the doors and disabling the air bags. In the same year, security researchers proved that surgical robots and implants, such as pacemakers, could also be hacked, having the potential to send shocks or disable completely. From March to May 2018, breaches in the health sector increased by a staggering 126%. Security cameras are one of the easiest to hack—there are search engines where people can look up live feeds, and just before Trump’s inauguration, a pair of Eastern European hackers were able to take control of two thirds of the cameras in D.C., not to mention the influence hackers had on the 2016 election. Going back to the Stone Age, sans Internet is not the solution. The Internet has proven to be an empowering resource, educating billions across the world and providing aid and efficiency at a level that humans are incapable of. Everything and everyone around us, at their core, is selfserving, and thus our methods of security must evolve to match technological advancements.
A SAFE PLACE TO FEEL UNSAFE
ILLUSTRATION BY DANIELLE FLEITES
In a typical haunted house, participants revel in the thrill—they scream, laugh, hold sweaty hands together, and run from villains. However, Blackout Haunted House subverted traditional haunted house themes when it began in New York in 2009, exposing participants to uncomfortably realistic horrors: various forms of torture, in some years including water boarding, and aggressive actors who invaded the personal space of participants, often while nude. Themes of sexual assault were blatant. In a video of a Blackout rehearsal from 2010, a man gets up from a mattress and yells, “Get on the bed!” Other reports detail topless actors grinding on or lying on top of participants, who prior to entering the house signed a waiver promising not to initiate physical contact with actors.
If haunted houses are usually a safe place to feel scared, Blackout diverged from that idea by targeting participants psychologically, aiming to make them feel degraded and helpless rather than the frantic nervousness that a traditional haunted house encourages. While Blackout’s methods bring up concerns, they are irresistible to some. Tom Kircher, who’s done Blackout several times, said, “The things I read sounded horrifying, and I’m a jaded horror fan if there ever was one. I thought to myself, Why would anyone want to do this? This was then immediately followed by the thought, Why do I suddenly want to do this now? Blackout uses the trauma and miseries of real life as entertainment, which seems inherent to the horror genre—movies like “Split” and “Psycho”
“WHILE BLACKOUT’S METHODS BRING UP CONCERNS, THEY ARE IRRESISTIBLE TO SOME.”
villainize mental illness and countless others depict murder and assault. Horror proves that we love to be taunted by our fears, and Blackout is a prime example. As Kircher explains, “When something frightens me, I become obsessed with it and feel determined to try to conquer that fear. Blackout was no exception.” The question, now, isn’t only whether or not such things should exist, but why they have an audience. Some approach horror as a challenge, some as a spectacle, while others avoid it entirely, but it’s certain that horror—and the real-life content it’s based on— is here to stay.
THOUGHTS | THE PRATTLER
THE PRATTLER | PHOTO ESSAY
CHARLOTTESVILLE A YEAR LATER
PHOTOS & WORDS BY AARON COHEN My great-granduncle was wiped from existence. He is a ghost to all public record. My mother thinks a picture of him may exist buried somewhere in the drawers of my late grandmother’s house. I’ve never found it—he is a ghost even to my own imagination. It’s thought that he was taken into the woods with his community and shot. There was no life in the ghetto for him, and no shipment to a concentration camp. Is there more dignity in dying without torture? Or is there dignity in fighting, despite knowing that the entire system was created to fail you—a cruel game of sorts in which you will lose, the only questions being when and how? He was Aaron; I am his namesake. I am the only remaining archive: the last testament to his life. When Nazis came to Charlottesville, I prepared for the counter-protest with my mother. She begged me not to wear my Star of David necklace, and that day, I felt the grave reality that I could be murdered. I was scared, but stubborn. I wonder if this is how Aaron felt? Perhaps persecution and trauma comprise a Jewish lineage, ironic in a sense, as these forces make tangible the ancestors we have lost, all the while threatening to take us too. On the anniversary of the Unite the Right rally, civilians took to the streets to highlight the University of Virginia’s poor handling of the violence, as well as the heavy police numbers a year later whereas police were disorganized and ineffective during the immediate
horrors in 2017. “WHO DO YOU PROTECT? WHO DO YOU SERVE?” was chanted through my hometown, and conveys a discourse that must permeate every corner of our country if we are to see change. How can we trust governmental institutions to deliver any sort of public welfare if they are founded in and upheld by white supremacy, capitalism, and heteropatriarchy? There is no ‘fixing’ the United States. From our colonialist beginning to our fascist present, the only way forward is by restarting our political consciousness altogether, and thus how we understand and allocate power.
DESIGNED BY SHELBY RASHAP Junior, ComD Graphic Design shelbyrashap.com @shelbyrashap As a designer, I am passionate about visual communication that creates a positive impact in our local communities. I integrate my design work into my printmaking practice while also exploring interactivity in a 2D medium, the accessibility of printed communications, and the physical process of different printmaking techniques.
This piece represents people of certain privileged demographics being uplifted by institutions while the majority of the population remains suppressed. The institutions that influence our daily lives are not constructed in a way to support and care for those who need it the most. While progress is being made to support minorities, students, immigrants, seniors and the impoverished, it is difficult to create change due to the exploitative structure of our culture. In order to reach a true state of equality, the complete framework of our society must be reimagined to promote the general public rather than just the elite few.
BEHIND THE COVER | THE PRATTLER
BEHIND THE COVER
LETTER FROM US
CULTURE & COMMUNITY
02 WE ARE HERE
As the streets become icier, so too has our nation fallen into an unprecedented coldness. The rights and safety of every minority community in America are threatened under the evils of fascism, and studying art during such trying times can feel futile, to say the least. But don’t give up. There is hope in community, and there is power in organizing. Now is not the time for apathy nor defeatism—now is the time for resourceful and bold action. Now is the time for allies to step up and speak up. Now is the time to keep making art, and to take breaks when you need them. Now is the time to stay informed, to vote in every election, and to build bridges toward a better future. Be proud of all that you are. I promise this: you are loved. In strength, Aaron Cohen Editor-in-Chief
Carly Tagen-Dye addresses the lack of Hispanic and Latino representation at Pratt, extending her critique to the art community beyond college.
03 THE SANCTITY OF THE STUDIO Mallory Pearson interviews painting majors about incorporating trauma in their work.
04 A SPACE OF OUR OWN Katie Vogel reflects on her experience with Clean Cats, highlighting how the addition of a physical space has benefited the community.
05 SAFETY ON CAMPUS IN TRUMP’S AMERICA Aliza Pelto examines steps the Trump administration is taking to limit protection for student victims of sexual assault.
ISSUE II FEATURE 06 OUR LIBRARY Nick Hair investigates the recent renovations to Pratt’s library, exposing a larger issue of administrative inefficiency in balancing tradition and functionality.
CREATIVE DIRECTORS Pamela Wang Jooyoung Park
08 INTERNET PRIVACY
EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Aaron Cohen MANAGING EDITOR Janie Peacock WEB DESIGNERS Noah Semus Nicholas Lucaccioni ADVISORS Christopher Calderhead Eric Rosenblum
Uma Smith discusses various examples of hacking, questioning if Internet access is worth the inevitable breach of privacy.
09 A SAFE PLACE TO FEEL UNSAFE Melanie Carlstad critiques NYC’s Blackout Haunted House, raising questions as to why real-life horrors have an audience.
PHOTO ESSAY & OTHER 10 CHARLOTTESVILLE A YEAR LATER Aaron Cohen documents Charlottesville one year after the Unite the Right rally, offering personal and political insights.
11 BEHIND THE COVER EMAIL US AT THEPRATTLER@GMAIL.COM OR VISIT US AT PRATTLERONLINE.COM
Shelby Rashap explains the meaning and process behind her silkscreened cover art.
Fall 2018 - Issue II