Top Finishers in Hennessy V.S Challenge Exhibit Work During Art Basel
The top three finishers in Pratt/Hennessy V.S art challenge displayed their work in a special Art Basel exhibition on December 2–8 at Kimpton’s luxury, waterfront EPIC hotel in downtown Miami. The three artists were winner André De Castro, from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and the second- and third-place finishers, Mike Finkelstein, of Irvington, NY, and Stephen Mondics of Fredon, NJ, respectively. A reception followed on EPIC’s famed 16th floor wrap-around pool deck, featuring breathtaking views of the Miami River and Biscayne Bay. The collaboration has broadened the educational experiences of Pratt students by offering new opportunities to extend their creativity and influence beyond the classroom and studio.
“Our partnership with Pratt Institute focused on identifying the top burgeoning talent in the arts field and challenging them to bring to life our “Never stop. Never settle.” mantra, centered on the notion of pushing the limits of one’s potential,” said Rodney Williams, Senior Vice President with Hennessy. “The work we were privileged to evaluate exceeded our expectations. Moreover the stories behind the pieces moved us immensely.”
De Castro (M.F.A. Communications Design ’13) took first place ahead of Finkelstein (B.F.A. Photography ’14) and Mondics (B.F.A. Film/Video ’13) with his inspirational work Movements. The vibrant series of silk-screened portraits features people trying to make a difference in the world. De Castro created his piece by reaching out via social media to young people from countries experiencing political or cultural change, asking each person to choose an object, place, individual, and color that best represented their feelings.
“To have their work exhibited during as exciting as Art Basel is a dream come true for students,” said Jeff Bellantoni, faculty advisor and graduate communications design chair, Pratt Institute. “The creativity and quality of the work produced by this year's students is simply outstanding. They really distinguished themselves and this competition shows how a collaborative exchange can spark such a wide range of innovative new work.”
Bellantoni invited nine Pratt students from photography, jewelry, film/video, and communications design departments to participate in the art challenge. Judges from both Pratt and Hennessy evaluated pieces and selected the winners. The artwork is showcased on the Hennessy website and social media channels, providing students with greater exposure through the company’s global platform.
The competition, now in its second year, builds on a relationship between Pratt and Hennessy that began in 2012. Partnering with a global brand enriches the educational experience for Pratt students by providing them an opportunity to demonstrate their expertise in a real world environment. “Corporate sponsored collaborations expose students to industry leaders and, in turn, expose industry leaders to our students’ great work. It’s a win-win,” said Ludovic Leroy, director of corporate relations at Pratt. “As an added bonus, there are many examples of students going on to work for the sponsors after graduation.”