This Land Is Their Land: High Schoolers Define '2017 America' in SVA Exhibition
November 7, 2017
by Emma Drew
High school students across the country answered a call for submissions from SVA's BFA Photography and Video Department to take part in "2017 America," which opens Saturday, November 18, at the SVA Gramercy Gallery. Featuring the photography of students from 30 states and drawn from over 2,000 submitted works, the exhibition was designed as an opportunity for young lens-based artists to exhibit work alongside their peers, giving voice to the newest members of the visual arts community.
The open call, distributed to high schools all over the U.S., asked for work, in any style, that explored themes of present-day America. One year after one of the most polarizing elections in recent history, the faculty and staff of BFA Photography and Video were eager to support and understand the perspectives of the youth whose futures will be deeply affected by the decisions made during this tumultuous time. Each artist who submitted work was guaranteed a place in the show. The resulting exhibition includes images that are overtly political and issue-oriented—several allude to the fight for LGBTQ civil rights, others reference last year's presidential contest—as well as those that express a more personal view of identity and life, such as portraits of friends and family, at this moment in history.
"I think there is some remarkable work, full of curiosity and confidence and visual acuity, and I am impressed at how some of the students are able to braid complex social and political observations into their own lives," says department chair Stephen Frailey (who also co-chairs SVA's MPS Fashion Photography program). "I've been spending time visiting high schools these past two years, and I wanted to offer the students a bridge from what might feel like an isolated experience, and express that there is a community that supports their endeavors."
Along with Frailey, "2017 America" was curated by BFA Photography and Video staff members Bina Altera (MPS 2013 Digital Photography), Amber Dietz, Maria Dubon, Alex Hovet (MFA 2017 Photography, Video and Related Media) and Max Lee (MFA 2016 Photography, Video and Related Media). The exhibition will be on view at the SVA Gramercy Gallery, 209 East 23rd Street, from Saturday, November 18, through Saturday, December 2, with a reception on Thursday, November 30, 6:00 – 8:00pm.