Award-winning filmmaker and videomaker Leighton Pierce has been named chair of Pratt Institute’s Film & Video Department. Pierce, who has been heading the Film and Video Production Program of the Department of Cinema and Comparative Literature at the University of Iowa, where he spearheaded and developed Iowa’s successful M.F.A. in Film and Video Production, will begin his appointment July 25, 2011.

“Throughout his career, Professor Pierce has developed curricula that reflect the constantly changing technical and cultural aspects of film and video,” said Pratt School of Art and Design Dean Concetta M. Stewart. “We are thrilled to have a dedicated teacher so committed to instilling a highly developed sense of craft to his students to lead this dynamic program,” she added.

In his own work, Pierce uses film, video, and sound to create experiences in transformative time. He creates multi-channel site-specific installations as well as single channel works that often blur the line between narrative, experimental, and documentary film modes. While widely recognized for the stunning cinematography in his impressionistic documentary films “Red Shovel” and “Glass,” both of which won top cinematography awards, he has received many “best of” awards at various festivals in recognition of his conception, editing, and sound design – areas he considers to be at the core of his art.

Pierce’s short films and videos have been exhibited in major art museums and film festivals including Sundance, the Whitney Biennial, and the San Francisco, New York, and Rotterdam film festivals. He also has received fellowships from the Guggenheim and Rockefeller foundations as well as several other prestigious fellowships and grants for his work.

As chair, Pierce will be responsible for leading Pratt’s Film & Video Department, which is part of the Institute’s School of Art and Design and includes a bachelor of fine arts in film degree program. The department emphasizes an awareness of fine arts traditions as well as the professional disciplines of the contemporary media artist. Students acquire foundation skills while pursuing their own artistic visions in documentary, experimental, and narrative modes of production.

Pierce received a master of fine arts degree from Syracuse University’s School of Art and a bachelor’s degree with distinction from the University of Iowa, following earlier studies at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. He is a resident of New York, N.Y.

Pierce’s chair appointment marks the separation of the Film/Video and Photography Programs into two distinct departments – the Film & Video Department and the Photography Department — beginning July 1. Professor Sarah Van Ouwerkerk, a faculty member in the Film/Video and Photography Department, will serve as the interim chair of the Department of Photography until a search for a permanent chair is completed next year.

Photo Credit: Leighton Pierce