Thesis Highlight in All The Best, Alice

i forgot where we were...

Excerpt from a thesis by Johnnie Chatman

Grand Canyon , 2017

Grand Canyon, 2017

I Forgot Where We Were... uses constructs and idioms of the West and western landscape photography as allegorical elements to facilitate a conversation on black identity as it reconfigures itself against media, historical, and trans-global narratives. Vantage points around the West act as intersectional beacons for explorations of culture, history and consumerism, as rich histories are compressed into marketable cultural capital.

In pursuing this route my project explores the ambiguity and multiplicity of blackness oscillating between a space of romance and critique, objective research and personal narrative. The dialogue produced between what is said and what is not - creates meaning that is as complicated as it subtle, ironic or conflicting. Through this, it is never assured that the act of signifying will yield for the audience the desired payoff. Representation of the black body in the context of the American West - that has too often been, as Neil Campbell describes, defined by binary and reductionist grids of thought and image when, in fact, it’s more than geography, it is a complex, unstable signifier that has been given meaning by those who have lived within it, passed through it, conquered it, settled, farmed, militarized, urbanized, and dreamed it.

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Catalysts in the Morning Dew

"Catalysts in the Morning Dew"
Friday, May 18 - Tuesday, June 5
Reception: Thursday, May 24, 6:00 - 8:00pm.

School of Visual Arts presents “Catalysts in the Morning Dew,” an exhibition of works by students selected by a jury of their peers. Organized by SVA Galleries, “Catalysts in the Morning Dew” is on view Friday, May 18, through Tuesday, June 5, at the SVA Gramercy Gallery, 209 East 23rd Street, New York City.

“Catalysts in the Morning Dew” features work that is inspired by socio-political themes throughout the world. Each of the artists’ chosen subject matter gives viewers access to these topics of geographical and social concern, leading to reflection and critical questioning of society. Works include illustrations, paintings, photographs and mixed media collages.

Vasileia Anaxagorou’s (BFA Fine Arts) paintings, inspired from her perspective of having come from Cyprus to New York City, explore the way landscapes morph under political, social and geographical influences.

Sam E. Anderson’s (BFA Photography and Video) work considers the Anthropocene period and how humanity is compromising our planet’s natural environments, notably through cities and the destruction they cause, in spite of the beautiful spectacle of modernity.

Vicky Azcoitia (MPS Digital Photography) metaphorically captures the stage of late pregnancy through photographic documentation of ferns, relating their physical transformation to her own experience of giving birth to a child.

Johnnie Chatman (MFA Photography, Video and Related Media) uses photographic constructs and idioms of the American West and Western landscape photography as elements of allegory. In doing so he interrogates black identity as it reconfigures itself against historical and contemporary narratives of being American.

Sofiya Kuzmina’s (BFA Illustration) illustrations reflect on questions of origin as an immigrant, dealing with the severe cultural changes experienced across multiple countries while acclimating herself with New York City.

Raquel Loeza (BFA Photography and Video) photographs homes in Oceanside, New York, that were abandoned due to the exorbitant costs of recovery from 2012’s Hurricane Sandy highlighting the ongoing struggle to recover from increasingly intense natural disasters.

Working with the organization “Remember Nhu,” Grace Spencer (BFA Photography and Video) uses photography to document victims of childhood sex slavery in order to bring awareness to the issue and represent the faces of those affected by this global epidemic.

Hai Fei Xie's (BFA Illustration) woodcut series "Of Mice And Men" illustrates the rough-hewn and darker elements of the story. Fei borrows thematic elements from John Steinbeck's writing to create her own interpretation and unique style of storytelling.

Naixin Xu’s (MFA Photography, Video and Related Media) photo series “New Tibet” depicts surreal and iconic Tibetan scenes and the effects of Tibet’s relationship with mainland China. The settings show modernization of cultures once insulated from external change and influence for centuries.

Hanwen “WenWen” Zhang (MFA Photography, Video and Related Media) presents a “micro-history” of the development of China by juxtaposing photos from his childhood town with his father’s family photographs.

Juried exhibitions are a way for SVA’s student body to recognize the achievements of their most distinguished classmates. Artists are selected from a large pool of applicants to the annual SVA Galleries call for entries, whose submissions undergo a rigorous examination of presented materials, including documentation of work and artist statements.


Terms and Conditions Film Screening

Please join us on March 22nd, 2018 for the next iteration of Terms and Conditions (formerly known as In Time Film Festival). A showcase of experimentation in moving image and audio based mediums. Placing a spotlight on avant-garde, art-house, independent and no/low budget student filmmaking that goes beyond expectations and genres; Moving image pieces that strive to push the boundaries of accepted form and content and show a strong innovative authorship.

Created and curated by thesis student Johnnie Chatman, Terms and Conditions aims to bring together the work and talent of the students from a consortium of MFA programs, providing a platform to have their films screened by the public while encouraging interdisciplinary conversations between the programs and artists.

There will be light refreshments and an open bar. All are welcome.

SCREENING ORDER 0.1 - Filmes de Femmes:

Part I.
1. Mengmei Pan - Sound Notes 4.0
2. Jina Park - Vigilance
3. Sara Arno - You Are What You Eat
4. Jing Lin - Machinetopia
5. Em Cohen - The Right Direction
6. Carla Maldonado - Temporary Days
Duration: 40 minutes

Intermission works by Dalia Amara, Tiffany Smith, Kelsey Winfrey and Liz Zito

Part II.
1. Kelsey Winfrey - Aurasphere
2. Naixin Xu - Excerpt from The Westbound Journey
3. Yi Qian - The Artist is the Sun
4. Alex Hovet - Counter-Charge
Duration: 40 minutes

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Zoetrope: All Story Artist Feature

You are here.

All the pictures in this edition of Zoetrope: All-Story were made prior to the events in Charlottesville.

My most recent work focuses on the dystopian underside of the American dream that led to the election and continued support of Donald Trump. One series, Premonitions (2008—16), printed for the first time this year, documents symbolic gestures found in the landscape during the Obama administration. The other series, The Writing on the Wall (2017—present), highlights graffiti left on abandoned buildings and rocky outcroppings throughout the desert Southwest.

Joining me are two young artists whose photographs I see as profound rejoinders and resonant contributions to this particular moment in our history.

Wesaam Al-Badry is a thirty-three-year-old student at the San Francisco Art Institute. The police and military sometimes use for target practice images of what could be described as stereotypical "Muslim" terrorists. Al-Badry substitutes flowers for weapons before rephotographing them.

Johnnie Chatman is a twenty-seven-year-old student at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. Published here is a selection from an ongoing series of self-portraits in the American landscape.

Richard Misrach
September 1, 2017

*To view the issue, Volume 21 Number 3: Fall 2017 and purchase your copy please click here.


Haphazard Paradigm - Exhibition

‘Haphazard Paradigm’


Guest Curated by Wardell Milan and Melvin Harper



The works in ‘Haphazard Paradigm’ look to question the deep cultural identities a person invests in; race, gender, and nationality. These historical and anthropological positions created to structure and perennially reaffirm social constructs, do so under the guise of identity. Such structures fix identifiable attributes to bodies, persons and communities, with little room for fluid variables. Questioning whether these constructs are nothing more than antiquated aesthetic signifiers, tethered to economic and political taxonomies, the artists in this exhibition smash, edit and ignore pedagogical social paradigms, so that gender and desire are free-floating, and the ideas of race and nationality are flexible.

Grahame Weinbren , recognized as a pioneer of interactive cinema, has made films and installations for over 30 years including this collaboration with Roberta Friedman, “We are always interested in constructing ways of evoking the pleasures of cinema without implicitly accepting an ideology—of passivity, manipulation, and repressed violence—that we would explicitly reject. Can there be films that remain cinematic without indulging in one form of pornography or another?” "Murray and Max..." is, in part, a proposal, a blueprint, for such a form of cinema.

Daniela Puliti proudly proclaims herself a strident feminist, creating work as a social and cultural critique from that vantage point. Humor operates as ingress to explore issues of intimacy, isolation, frustration, anger, and repression. The use of craft materials such as yarn, fabric, and glitter challenges the hierarchical notions of art making.

Through strategies of arrangement and contingency, Kristine Eudey’s (b. 1986, Rockford, Illinois) works revolve around human relationships to material and power. Through a practice spanning sculpture, photography, and video she explores the ways in which image-based representation and the augmentation of physical space convene to shift our relationships to the visible, producing a condition of abstracted and infinite views.

Melvin Harper (b. 1980, United Kingdom) These fabric sculptures replicate sex dolls. Using luxury fabrics the form becomes clad in the same systems of fashion semiology we use, but vacant of western identity - gender, race, nationality being neutralized, along with the utility of labour. The removal of demographic removes sociological narrative, procreative posterity yields to an aggressive carnal action, invoking a futility of purpose, what remains is a form, a body, latent with the action of penetration, a fuck vessel. Alpaca, super 120s wool, cashmere, and functional satin lined orifices mock a contemporary western psyche entrenched in systems of aesthetics.

Born and raised in Southern California, Johnnie Chatman is a photographer and experimental filmmaker residing in New York City. His work has been shown across the U.S., including exhibitions at the Claremont Museum of Art and the De Young Museum in San Francisco. His art practice explores the dyad of human growth and the exploitation/ alteration of the natural environment by examining areas of equilibrium and offset, through constructs of identity, historical implications of the West, and cultural capital.


A collective of International women artists, Et Alia came together to create an open dialogue about the current state of women's issues globally, through their art making. For this show, the group's founding members, Ala d' Amico, Jiwon Choi, Kelsey Lynn, Netta Laufer, and Sara Meghdari present their individual perspectives of identity through an array of mediums. In the spirit of Baldwin’s inquiry, “The purpose of art is to lay bare the questions that have been hidden by the answers.”

Anders Jones contributes to the dialogue on the African-American experience using a variety of representational strategies and materials