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Dreams Lived/Dreams Shattered: MLK, JFK 50 Years Later

Dreams Lived
The FIT graduate program in Illustration students whose art hangs in The Museum at FIT in honor of the 50th anniversary of the death of President John F. Kennedy and the "I Have a Dream" speech delivered by the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. do not remember those seminal events from personal experience, but one wouldn’t know it from looking at their work. The exhibition, Dreams Lived/Dreams Shattered: MLK, JFK 50 Years Later, on view through December 7, includes the illustrations of 24 students in FIT’s Masters of Fine Arts program in Illustration and five faculty members, along with powerful personal statements about the pieces.

The works range in media from scratchboard and canvas to pen and ink, clay sculpture, and digital print.

“I like bringing the culture of our times to our work,” said Melanie Reim, chair and associate professor, Master of Fine Art program in Illustration. “It’s important to remember that visual interpretations are potent, powerful ways of assigning a feeling to the written word, and in today’s world the illustrator is more powerful than ever with the combination of media they have at their disposal.”
                              
In order to deepen the students’ understanding of these two seminal events in America’s history, Daniel Levinson Wilk, associate professor, American History, provided background, and Matthew Petrunia, associate professor, English and Speech, followed with the key aspects of great speeches. The students were then asked to interpret the events of half a century ago in any way they chose.

A number of the students expanded on Kennedy’s and King’s lives – and their untimely deaths – to examine broader social issues. In Put Them Where We Can’t See Them, Donna Choi considers the fact that the United States makes up five percent of the world’s population, yet comprises twenty-five percent of its incarcerated population. Within this population, she states, African-Americans are disproportionately targeted and punished for nonviolent drug offenses.

Minjung Kim was inspired by the legacy of President Kennedy’s passing of the Civil Rights Act, choosing to express herself artistically with a medical illustration.
 
Nicholas Block writes that his piece has to do with the nature of dreams, which have the potential to inspire and cause action. “Martin Luther King used his ‘dream’ as the basis for a movement toward his vision of a better world.”

Bruno Nadalin used the metaphor of Hurricane Katrina and the rooftops of New Orleans to represent the “lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity” that Dr. King spoke of in his “I Have a Dream” speech. 

The Fashion Institute of Technology, a college of the State University of New York, has been a leader in career education in art, design, business, and technology for nearly 70 years. With a curriculum that provides a singular blend of hands-on, practical experience, classroom study, and a firm grounding in the liberal arts, FIT offers a wide range of outstanding programs that are affordable and relevant to today’s rapidly changing industries. The college offers more than 45 majors and grants AAS, BFA, BS, MA, MFA, and MPS degrees, preparing students for professional success and leadership in the global marketplace.
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