Sva Visual Arts Journal Assignments

For Ockenfels, his notebooks started as "technical journals," with Polaroids and diagrams showing how he planned to light a photograph. Then, as he recalls, "I found myself collaging the extra Polaroids and scraps of paper related to the shoot. Then I would write down my thoughts or opinions on the shoot—a great way to clear my head." His notebooks are still an excellent tool for head clearing, he notes, but they have now evolved into something far more complex, blending handwriting, expressive ink drawings, and "cheap printouts of my work, old and new." Many of the resulting entries are layered and densely textured, and their content is often filled with sexuality and an intensity of emotion. "I like to make things that feel raw, real—that feel 'one of one,'" he says.

Kara Rooney also brings layering and collage into her sketches, energetic sweeps of black on white, often woven through with snippets of her own photography. Rooney makes these pieces in series of four or five, standing up at a table and working with inks, graphite and water-based washes on heavy white paper. She calls such works "warm-ups," a name that brings to mind her time as a dancer, though she says they really stem from her training as a painter. "Particularly when I'm between projects, or when I'm beginning a body of work, they're a way for me to get into gestural mindset of the sculptural forms," she says. "Even though I work with a lot of theory, this particular physicality has to be there first." In a manner similar to Ockenfels, Rooney's sketches bring together different strands of her practice. For a series of works that she calls "Reverbs," she photographs her sculptures, manipulates them in Photoshop and then incorporates them in three-dimensional pieces. Printed-out test images that that didn't make it into the finished works later have their use in the warm-ups.

Rooney also keeps notebooks, mostly devoted to writing, and they are sprinkled with imagery. "They're more like idea journals," she says, explaining that on any given day she might be writing "something that could become an artist’s statement" or recording "an experience that would go into the work."

Visual Arts Journal is the magazine of the School of Visual Arts. Published twice a year, in the fall and in the spring, the Journal covers recent and upcoming projects by SVA community members, SVA news, notable alumni, and trends and topics in art, design, filmmaking, photography and their related fields. The magazine is produced by SVA External Relations and designed by the Visual Arts Press. 

To contact the editors of the Visual Arts Journal, write to [email protected]. 

  • Alumnus Crystal Moselle's award-winning debut documentary, The Wolfpack
  • Six gallerists on their role in a changing art world
  • The art of alumnus Patrick McDonnell, creator of Mutts and animal-rights advocate 
  • Analog photography in our digital age 
  • Alumnus Sean Lopano on rebranding fashion retailer Old Navy
  • Interior design moves from "sustainability" to "resilience"

Read the full issue online.

  • Resources and initiatives for making New York City affordable for artists again
  • The bold, bright paintings of alumnus Andrew Brischler
  • MFA Interaction Design students bootstrap their own businesses
  • Artists explore 3D printing technology
  • Alumnus Amelie Klein on curating international design exhibitions
  • Character design, from sketch to screen
  • Diversity in comics: a call for greater inclusivity 

Read the full issue online.

  • Alumnus and illustrator Nate Powell collaborates with congressman and civil rights hero John Lewis
  • The photos of alumnus Mark Yankus turn unloved buildings into objects of mystery and fascination
  • 30 years of MFA Illustration as Visual Essay at SVA
  • The aural art of alumnus Christine Sun Kim
  • Off the charts: new frontiers in data visualization
  • Ad agencies founded by SVA alumni

Read the full issue online.

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