MICA alumni forge exciting career paths in New York City
Posted 01.01.13 by mica communications
It's no surprise that many MICA alumni find themselves in New York. The "city that never sleeps" has a rich array of cultural institutions, museums, and galleries, plus unbeatable networking opportunities for artists and designers. Juxtapositions sat down with six of our alumni to find out where their careers have taken them since graduation.
Designing on an Olympic Level
While a student at MICA, Stephen Edmond '11 (graphic design) was a trendsetting designer and extraordinary student leader. He not only tookthe reins as the student coordinator for the Annual Benefit Fashion Show and was active in the Black Student Union, but was also selected to be the featured undergraduate speaker at his graduation.
His talents did not go unnoticed, as Graphic Design USA named him a "Student to Watch" in 2011. The magazine's prediction was correct, as Edmond quickly found himself garnering international recognition for one of the world's most recognizable brands.
Upon graduation, Edmond was recruited by well-known boxing brand Everlast Worldwide, Inc. Within months, he found himself with a high profile job: designing uniforms for the USA Olympic Boxing Team, which were worn by the men's and women's teams during the London 2012 Olympics, including by Claressa Shields as she captured the first ever women's boxing gold medal.
"I was honored to be able to create the uniforms," said Edmond, adding that the uniforms represent pride in the country and Olympic glory.
The New Orleans native is also happy to find himself designing in New York. "What excites me most about being a designer is simple: I don't want to be limited," he explained. "I like constantly being motivated; I like being pressured. I like to push barriers, and I like to be around people who make me better."
"That's what I'm constantly looking for in New York-people who are just as hungry as me."
Creating Programs Kids Will Love and Learn from
Rachel Katz '96 '97 (general fine arts, MA in Art Education) became interested in museum education while working weekends in family programs at the Walters Art Museum while she was studying at MICA. Upon earning her MA in Art Education, she went on to teach art classes to middle school students for two years in public school and also worked as a gallery educator at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.
Later, her path brought her back to MICA, where she worked as an admissions counselor and scholarship coordinator. But 10 years ago she chose to make the leap to New York to pursue museum education work full time.
"Fortunately I was able to find a great position in the realm of family programs at The Jewish Museum," said Katz, explaining that the museum displays art through the lens of Jewish culture and identity. "My work involves managing and developing programming for families inspired from our exhibitions, including interactive gallery tours, art workshops, a family concert series, and large scale family day events."
Katz said she continually taps into her background at MICA while at her current job. "An understanding of the artist's process along with my firsthand experience teaching a range of age levels during the master's program regularly inform my idea development for our museum programs,"she explained. "I get excited seeing a child's exploratory process unfold around a work of art and the beauty of those fleeting and powerful interactions within a museum setting."
Fashioning High Couture Hats for New York's Elite
"If you want to work in fashion, you come to New York," said Ashley Lloyd'09 (fiber), who set out to make a name for herself as a daring, avant-garde milliner, or hat designer. "The stylists, the magazines, and the designers are all here," she added.
After graduating, Lloyd made the move to New York, where she landed an internship at W magazine and began lending her hats to stylists. She took a part-time job at a luxury retail boutique to support her millinery work.
"The millinery world in New York is very small and highly competitive," she explained, adding that her experiences studying abroad in Italy while at MICA provided inspiration that still fuels her collections to this day.
Fortunately, Lloyd has the ambition and talent needed to make it as a designer. Already, her hats have been worn and photographed by many famous names: top fashion photographer Steven Klein shot model Kate Moss wearing Lloyd's hat for W and legendary fashion photographer Bill Cunningham's photographed writer Lesley M.M. Bloom wearing her hat for The New York Times.
The highlight of her career so far, however, was when Lady Gaga's personal stylist requested a hat from Lloyd.
"Seeing Lady Gaga wearing my hat in a photograph shot by Annie Leibowitz for Vanity Fair felt like three triumphs in one," she said. "I actually missed a very important party for fashion week to finish the hat she wore. It was well worth it!"
Finding Connections between Painting and Prada
For Jeffrey Rugh '99 (painting), the path to a high profile job at Prada had humble beginnings: he started working at the company as a salesperson in the women's department at a Beverly Hills, California, store. But persistence pays off, and he soon became known as someone who was willing to take on new challenges and positions.
Before long, Rugh found himself climbing the ladder to senior manager for business development, a role in which the primary responsibility is to move Prada into new markets. He works with senior executives to develop strategic plans for North and South America, including real estate development and relationship management with department stores so the customer gets the full Prada experience.
Rugh studied painting and spent a great deal of time focused on art history. He attributes his rise within the company to the fact that he came to the position without any barriers; he had no preconceived notions of how businesses should operate and brands should be promoted, which allowed him to think and act freely.
"To have an aesthetic antenna up is actually a big part of being in the luxury business," Rugh said. "You have to be able to understand the subtle cues given to a customer."
According to Rugh, aggressive curiosity-an attribute nurtured at MICA-is why many of the College's alumni have been able to achieve higher levels in their respective fields. In fact, when he reviews résumés for jobs at Prada, Rugh looks for people who bring unique experiences to the table, believing this is what gives people a leg up on the competition.
Producing Impactful Art & Design
Things "clicked" with Karisa Senavitis '02 (general fine arts) when she was in the Exhibition Development Seminar (EDS) class led by Curator-in-Residence George Ciscle. During the class, in which students design and curate a major show, it became apparent to Senavitis that the artist, the work, and the audience hold equal weight.
Primarily interested in the socio-economic impact that design and art can have, Senavitis and partner Kevin O'Neill co-founded Will Work for Good, an art and graphic design studio based in Brooklyn. Established based on the idea "small is beautiful," the company primarily works on small-scale projects in the realm of print for independent record labels, musicians, artists, galleries, comedians, nonprofit organizations, and friends. The studio recently self-published its first book, Design, Design, Design, Design, Design the Poor, in which design's contribution to the state of poverty is explored.
Beyond the studio, Senavitis also works as a consultant with individuals looking to explore new ways of operating within their corporate worlds, such as a current project with Johnson & Johnson employees that will confront the invisible hepatitis C epidemic in Romania.
Senavitis said her EDS work led to internships, collaborations, and incredible access to artists and institutions. Senavitis noted the methods she developed during the class carried forward into the work she does today, and also said studying in Baltimore was an inspiration to her. She encourages MICA students to think beyond the campus and engage with the local community, and believes collaboration is a critical part of her art, design, and curatorial process. "I like to follow the unexpected connections that come out of a dialogue, especially if they challenge my own assumptions about a community," she said.
Fabricating a New Artistic Path
"The right job came at the right time, and it happened to be in New York," explained Iris Litwin '04 (printmaking), who admits she had no intentions of moving to the Big Apple before she landed a job as a professional fabric dyer for the costume shop Parsons-Meares, Ltd.
The opportunity allowed Litwin to have a hand in numerous Broadway productions, including The Lion King, Phantom of the Opera, and Shrek the Musical, which won a Tony Award for Costumes.
Seeking a position with more room for growth, Litwin moved on to Welspun USA, Inc. where she worked on private label bedding for national retailers, including The Bon-Ton Stores, Inc., Costco Wholesale Corporation, and more. She had established herself so well in the home textile industry that when the company closed the bedding department, she received several offers from various clients before her last day in the office had arrived.
Ultimately, Litwin ended up taking what she calls a "permalance" position at CHF Industries, Inc. as an assistant bedding designer for all the brands that fall under Donna Karan, including DKNY, Pure DKNY, Donna Karan Collection, and Donna Karan Essentials. "I'm extremely happy with the way things have been going," she said.
As for advice to current students, Litwin encourages everyone to take advantage of the Joseph Meyerhoff Center for Career Development. "They helped me get a Fulbright grant to India to pursue studies on block printing and na tural dyeing techniques," said Litwin, who spent a year there learning traditional techniques, working with local craftspeople, and traveling for research and inspiration.
"They can help you with whatever you are applying for," she said.
Countless alumni have found themselves in New York after graduating from MICA. Some notable names include: Prism Award-winning illustrator Emily Flake '99 (illustration); head of digital media for the Whitney Museum of American Art Sarah Hromack'02 (general fine arts); managing editor for CNN's food blog, Eatocracy, Kat Kinsman '94 (sculpture); designer at Google Creative Lab Sunny Oh '11 (graphic design); fine artist Lynn Palewicz '99 '00 (general fine arts, Art Education); and Director of Animation at Nickelodeon Christopher Papa '02 (general fine arts), just to name a few.
Image captions (top to bottom): Stephen Edmond '11 (graphic design); Rachel Katz '96 '97 (general fine arts, MA in Art Education) stands inside the Archaeology Zone, a children's gallery she coordinated at The Jewish Museum; Hats made by Ashley Lloyd '09 (fiber) have been worn by Lady Gaga, Kate Moss, and more; Jeffrey Rugh '99 (painting) works as the senior manager for business development at Prada; Karisa Senavitis '02 (general fine arts) in her Brooklyn studio, where she runs Will Work for Good; Stella, one of many bedding designs Iris Litwin '04 (printmaking) had her hands in creating while working at Welspun USA, Inc. ©Christy ©Welspun USA.