The Corcoran halls have been bustling for weeks as students prepared for the Griffin Gallery opening. Once renovations wrapped up, workers put the finishing touches on the exhibit space.
The gallery is run for students, by students. The space was conceived as a gallery within the Corcoran School that could show student work in a professional setting.
Students from multiple disciplines—fine arts, graphics design, exhibition design, and more—collaborated to produce the exhibit. Both the exhibit and reception were organized by a working committee of five curators: Mariah Miranda, Maeve Beal, Leila Eguino, Michael Schiffer, Margeaux Nanfeldt. Corcoran Exhibitions Coordinator Jillian Nakornthap advised the group. The artist chosen for the inaugural show was Kohei Urakami.
Urakami was born in Kanagawa, Japan in 1994. Now a Washington DC resident, he is a senior in Fine Art and works with drawing, printmaking, photography, and video. Growing up in Japan and the United States, he absorbed both cultures and aesthetic values. Although Urakami has exhibited before, Spirits is his first solo show.
The show’s literature describes how well Urakami’s work expresses the gallery’s mission.
In the past three years, Kohei Urakami’s prolific production has garnered notable recognition from the Corcoran community and beyond. Known for his delicate drawing and meticulously executed prints, Urakami uses his talents to execute an exploration of the passing of time in nature. This series works to exhibit this intimate encounter with the ephemerality of light and shadow. The diversity in application also speaks to the Corcoran’s long tradition of preparing artists for the multimedia character of contemporary art. The Griffin Gallery is proud to represent Kohei Urakami as our inaugural artist.
Once preparations and promotions were complete, the students set up the gallery for the opening and crossed their fingers.
A few people wandered in before the event started and mingled in the atrium for refreshments.
The trickle turned into a flood as the doors officially opened at 6:30. Students, faculty, GWU staff members, and alumni all turned out to see the show.
The student coordinators spoke to the crowd, explaining their contributions to the show and how it all came together.
After their presentation, Urakami spoke briefly about his work and the philosophy behind his artistic process. All the students were happy with the warm audience reception and look forward to producing more shows.
Learn more about Kohei Urakami’s technique and inspirations in this interview.
For more information about the Griffin Gallery, please visit their website.
On October 28th, over a hundred alumni braved the rain to hear an artist’s talk at the Corcoran School. The presentation was given by Sanjit Sethi, the new director of George Washington University’s Corcoran School of the Arts and Design. The alumni event was Sethi’s first opportunity to connect with former students of the Corcoran School and discuss his vision for the school’s future.
The night started with a reception, where guests chatted and admired the student exhibitions on the wall. But the atmosphere quickly grew more like a reunion as familiar faces arrived. Between the hugging and the “remember whens,” it became clear that this was a homecoming for many alums.
Soon, it was time for the talk, and the guests made their way to Hammer Auditorium for the presentation.
The first person to speak was Corcoran College Alumni Steering Committee Co-Chair Avi Gupta. He greeted his fellow alums and spoke of his optimism for the Corcoran’s future.
Gupta was followed by GW Alumni Association President Jeremy Gosbee who assured Corcoran alums they were now part of the GW family.
Finally, Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations Aristide Collins gave the alums a sincere “welcome home” to the GW community.
Sanjit Sethi took the stage to warm applause. He spoke at length about his work as an artist, his experiences, his passions, and his vision for the future of the Corcoran.
Sethi reinforced the importance of social issues in art and in the goals of the school moving forward. This focus was evident in his discussion of the Corcoran’s new public hours.
“The Corcoran continues to educate the next generation of culturally fluent creative practitioners while still seeing its space as a vital place for the broader Washington DC community.”
Sethi concluded his speech and moved on to answer alumni questions. Once the formal Q & A was over, he remained and chatted with alums and faculty for a while.
Sethi’s enthusiasm was contagious and there was a happy buzz as guests left for the evening. Several took to social media to express their happiness with Sethi’s plans and the recent events at the Corcoran.
You can watch Sethi’s speech in its entirety here:
From an historic partnership to a vibrant influx of talent to the naming of a new director, it was a year of transformation for the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design at GW.
“It has been an exciting year of growth and change for GW and the Corcoran,” said Columbian College Dean Ben Vinson. “We are creating something dynamic and unique in the landscape of arts education.”
The announcement of a finalized agreement between the Corcoran, the university and the National Gallery of Art, promised to build upon GW’s arts education while preserving the Corcoran legacy.
National Portfolio Day
High school students touted thick portfolios and sketchbooks to the Corcoran’s vast atrium for National Portfolio Day, an annual college recruiting event for aspiring young artists.
Faces of Diplomacy
Corcoran photographers, videographers and designers collaborated with the U.S. Department of State on “Faces of Diplomacy,” a multimedia exhibition with displays that featured professionals from the diplomatic service.
Active in the Community
The Corcoran ceramists transformed clay into contributions for the homeless by creating more than 500 clay bowls that were later auctioned off to donors by the nonprofit So Others Might Eat.
Annual NEXT Exhibition
The annual student thesis exhibition showcased and served as a launching platform for burgeoning designers and artists. The month-long public exhibition received multiple design awards this year and attracted thousands, including gallerists, curators, curiosity seekers, alumni, family and friends. The installations by the 103 graduating Corcoran students were stunning in their scope: broad panoramas of leaves and clay, sculptures cast from the artist’s own body, powerful photo series’ that both engaged and intrigued, intricate architectural design models, and breathtaking brush strokes of color on canvas.
There was the appointment of an inaugural Corcoran School Director Sanjit S. Sethi, a veteran arts education leader. “I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to be a part of a legacy institution like the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design at the George Washington University,” Sethi said. “I look forward to working with students, faculty, staff and administrators across the Corcoran and GW to cultivate diverse forms of creative practice and educate the next generation of critical problem-solvers.”
Other Major Milestones
• Sale of the Corcoran’s Fillmore Building in Georgetown
• The migration of the Corcoran’s 40,000 volume collection to the Gelman Library
• Launch of a multi-year, multi-phase renovation of the Corcoran historic building
“What is passion?”
The camera follows a camouflaged hunter as he walks through a sunlit forest, his steps crunching leaves underfoot. A slight breeze rustles golden foliage while an orchestra of chirping crickets fills the crisp early autumn air. A doe suddenly pops up from the underbrush and the hunter slows his steps. He gradually aims his bow and arrow, slowly pulls back the string and, with a snap, lets go.
This is a scene from the documentary film Hunting Nature, New Media and Photojournalism graduate student Joe Van Eeckhout’ s NEXT multimedia thesis project. The film follows hunter Tracy Groves and explains how the outdoorsman reconciles his strong faith with his passion for hunting.
“I think Tracy’s perspective on hunting and faith turns an often politicized topic into a human story,” said Joe, who began his project last summer with the intention to focus on the issue of raising children in households with guns. He reached out to families in hunting communities, giving them little criteria other than asking they hail from a strong hunting tradition.
Interested in families and gun culture, Joe was almost dissuaded from continuing the interview. But Tracy explained how hunting was much more than shooting prey and having trophies. He expressed how his talent strengthened his faith in God which inspired him to create Heartwood Outdoors, a ministry highlighting nature and Christian fellowship. Based on a 160-acre plot of woody farmland in eastern Maryland, Heartwood Outdoors serves as a haven for people struggling with hardships in life, Tracy said.
After speaking with Tracy and learning about his ministry, Joe was intrigued.
“When people think about hunting, they think about guns and killing innocent animals,” Joe said. But when Joe spoke to Tracy, he realized that the hunter provided a new perspective. Joe’s potential politically-charged project turned into a true human interest story.
The Story Behind the Passion
Learning to hunt at age 12, Tracy was taught at an early age the value of land conservation and the value of life. As he grew older and gained recognition for his marksmanship, he began competing in professional bow and arrow tournaments. In the film, Tracy explains how his growing passion for hunting initially caused him to shift away from his faith. The long hours spent perfecting his craft became a hindrance to the man he was destined to become, he said.
“At one point, I would come home at night and start practicing—shooting 200 to 300 arrows a night,” Tracy said. At the time, he did not realize that he was turning his valued talent into an obsession, losing precious moments with his family and forgetting the purpose of his faith.
“The little stuff we worry so much about…it really doesn’t mean anything,” Tracy said. Now, he tries to teach others the same.
Joe spent many days following Tracy, his older brother, Troy Groves and other members of the Heartwood Outdoors team into the woods where they mentored members of their ministry on technique, patience and being grateful for the gift of nature. They opened their arms to youth, individuals with special needs and the financially distressed.
“My success is watching people enjoy harvesting their first animal,” Tracy said. “It’s watching other people experience the same joy I have.”
Outside of fellowship, one of the most important aspects of hunting Tracy emphasizes is giving back to nature, Joe said. As a landowner, Tracy could shoot as many deer as he wanted. But it was not an example of what he called, ‘a good steward.’
“A good steward is harvesting what you know you’ll eat, what you’ll use and be done,” Tracy said.
The Film and the End Result
Throughout the film and in his photographs, Joe seized all aspects of Tracy the hunter and outdoorsman, the minister and the family man, and captured the glint in Tracy’s eye as he spoke of passion and purpose. The film also characterized nature as another character in Tracy’s story, with brilliant shots of tranquility and stillness.
Joe highlighted Tracy’s respect for nature and in the outdoors in a way that reminds the audience of simpler times – a society that was more aware of receiving and giving back to the land.
“This project required a lot of empathy,” Joe said. “I truly respect Tracy in the way he views his role in the world.”
One of the quotes Joe took away from his project was used as a voice over during a scene in which Tracy and his daughter carefully skinned and gutted a deer. In that scene, Tracy says: “The decisions we make as individuals, of what soil we will be planted in, will determine how well we grow.”
“That line really spoke to me and really says a lot about what he wants to instill in other people,” Joe said. “I think I’ll carry it with me for a long time.”
You can view Joe Van Eeckhout’s multimedia project Hunting Nature at the Corcoran School’s NEXT Thesis Exhibition until May 18 and at Huntingnatureproject.com.