Pratt’s creative community is continually exploring areas as diverse as historical research, sound art, climate change, and neuroscience. These fascinating recent conversations with ten notable alumni and faculty members offer a wide range of new ideas and perspectives.
Photographer Sylvia Plachy, BFA ’65, helped define New York City’s culture and nightlife through her iconic work for New York Magazine and The Village Voice in the 1970s and ’80s. She talked with Person Place Thing host Randy Cohen about first coming to the US as a child, getting hooked on photography in a class at Pratt, and her admiration for her mentor, the innovative Hungarian photographer André Kertész. Listen on the Person Place Thing site.
“I was at Pratt and studying to become a great artist, and then I took a course in photography, and that changed my course. And I decided I wanted to live my art instead of staying home in a studio. I wanted to live and take pictures, and I think photography does that. I wanted to meet the world.”
Sylvia Plachy, Person Place Thing
Where Are the Black Designers?
Pratt alumna Cheryl Miller talked with Nigel Prentice, host of the IBM Racial Equity in Design initiative’s podcast, It’s About Time, about her career as a writer and designer in episodes six and seven. Miller’s master’s thesis at Pratt became a 1987 PRINT magazine article, “Black Designers Missing in Action,” which led to further historical research, articles, and conferences on the topic. In 2021, she was appointed as Honorary IBM Design Scholar and received a Cooper Hewitt National Design Award and an AIGA Medal. Listen on the IBM Racial Equity in Design site.
“Create. Don’t duplicate. Create. Design thinking on a yellow sticky. Are you still with me? I leave you with the Sankofa bird: return, go and take. See, once you know your history, okay, claim it. Go on and take what’s rightfully yours. That’s it. Compete.”
Cheryl Miller, It’s About Time
The Idea of Digital Intimacy
Roddy Schrock, executive director of Eyebeam, interviewed sound art duo Mendi + Keith Obadike on his podcast, Informer. Mendi is an associate professor of humanities and media studies at Pratt. The duo’s 25 years of working together as sound artists give them a unique perspective on trends, changes, and challenges in the field. Listen on the Informer site.
“Sound can be a space. It can be a place where you are, and not just something to consume. And so for me, as an artist but also just as a listener, I can go to different places by listening to certain things, and I can also make spaces for people.”
Mendi Obadike, Informer
The Passive House Podcast features interviews with leaders in the global Passive House movement. In this episode, guest hosts Ilka Cassidy and Mary James interviewed Clara Ha, visiting assistant professor of undergraduate architecture and project manager at ChoShields Studio, a Passive House Certified architecture studio, where she oversees projects designed for a sustainable environment. Listen on the Passive House Podcast site.
“There is an interest in the student body to learn more about sustainable structures and architecture. They are the future and it’s their future. So whether they have detailed knowledge of sustainable architecture or not, I think just the idea of that as an important way of thinking is already embedded when they come into first-year undergraduate studies.”
Clara Ha, Passive House Podcast
The Intersection of Neuroscience and Art
(In)Coherence: The Variable Edges between Us and World is a podcast created as a STEAMPlant project by faculty members Ágnes Mócsy and Ellen Berkovitch with Mary Jo Vath and Iliyan Ivanov. The series features conversations around subjects related to both neuroscience and art. Listen on the (In)Coherence site.
“Brain meets world. Neuroscience chats with art. We mean for this podcast to trail the phosphorescent nets that capture the shared preoccupations of neuroscience and art.”
On the mission of (In)Coherence
Heteronyms, Alter Egos, Avatars, and Experiencing the Self
Tin House’s Between the Covers, a literary podcast hosted by David Naimon, is widely considered one of the most notable book podcasts for writers and readers. In this episode, Writing Professor James Hannaham talked about his inspiration and writing process for his latest and “most uncategorizable” book, Pilot Impostor. Listen on the Tin House site.
“I think there’s something about the hoax and the prank that is a little bit what artists are up to a lot of the time. Things that I gravitate toward anyway, in terms of art, are usually an intervention into conventional thinking on some level that surprises you and changes the terms that you had already accepted.”
James Hannaham, Between the Covers
The Business of Art and Design
The Business of Art and Design podcast from the Missouri State University Department of Art + Design features conversations with artists and designers who discuss different aspects of developing a career in the arts. Foundation faculty member Sizhu Li talked about her kinetic installation, Moonment, and her artistic journey as an emerging, Chinese-born, multidisciplinary artist in New York City. Listen on Spotify.
“Your interests and your daily life are somehow connected, so when you do tons of experiments, there’s definitely a way they kind of get involved with each other. If you can’t find it, I feel that means your experiments are not enough. You have to do more.”
Sizhu Li, The Business of Art and Design
The Ugly History of Fast Fashion
Writing Department faculty member Sofi Thanhauser discussed her acclaimed new book, Worn: A People’s History of Clothing, and the labor practices and environmental impact of the fashion industry with Krys Boyd, host of North Texas public radio station KERA’s national call-in radio program, Think. Listen on the Think KERA site.
“I think the same kind of logic is at work with encouraging people to buy a new TV every couple of years, but with clothing it’s possible to, I think, draw upon much deeper insecurities or promises of romance or power or self-renovation that if you buy this, your identity will shift in ‘X’ way.”
Sofi Thanhauser, Think
Fighting for Equality in Fashion and Beyond
Black Fashion History is a podcast hosted by Taniqua Russ that celebrates the life, work, and industry experiences of Black designers, educators, curators, costumers, stylists, and other fashion professionals. In this episode, she interviews Fashion Design Professor Adrienne Jones, who conceived and co-curated the landmark 2014 exhibition Black Dress and was the first Black woman to achieve full-time tenured professor status at Pratt. Listen on the Black Fashion History site.
“The biggest thing we kept hearing back [about Black Dress] was, ‘I didn’t know. I didn’t know that these people existed.’ That’s when I realized the importance of carrying on the work of my godmother was not just for me personally, but this was so much bigger than what I could have imagined.”
Adrienne Jones, Black Fashion History
Architecture and Climate Education
In this episode of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada’s RAIC Podcast on Architecture, Pratt School of Architecture Dean Harriet Harriss talks with RAIC Congress on Architecture Steering Committee member and host Bianca Dahlman about the publication Architects After Architecture and the climate crisis curriculum at Pratt. Listen on PodBean.
“Education is not just the reflector of practice; it’s the director of practice. If we want to see a future in which real change will occur in the way that we design and build and from what we build going forward, we need to empower our students with climate literacy and knowledge.”
Harriet Harriss, RAIC Podcast on Architecture