In this year of change, many things that link us remain constant, though aspects of them may have adapted or evolved. Prattfolio takes an A-to-Z look at some of the elements of Pratt Institute that our community has made special, inspired by recent Interior Design graduate Ashika Amarnath’s graphic tour of cherished places in New York City (including Pratt!). Our riff on the project is a non-exhaustive collection of unique sights, sounds, events, landmarks, and more that we appreciate, continue to enjoy in new ways, and look forward to experiencing again together— even as we create new traditions and reimagine our world at Pratt.

Architecture

A: Architecture

Architecture

Pratt is recognized for its significant architecture, from modern structures to landmark buildings. Higgins Hall, with its illuminated glass insertion that stands as a symbol of resilience and renewal at the site of a damaging fire in 1996. The ARC, with its unmistakable angles, home of Athletics and Recreation at Pratt, as well as Institute and community events like Pratt Shows: Design, the Colgate Women’s Games, and Comic Arts Brooklyn. The newest residence hall, Emerson Place, designed with the expertise of two Pratt alumnae. Every building at Pratt has its stories—infused with memories you’ve made, and those in the making.

Big Damn Prints

B: Big Damn Prints

Big Damn Prints

In 2006, Fine Arts launched Big Damn Prints, to bring Pratt students and faculty together for a day of collaborative large-scale printmaking. Participants have convened annually in the center of campus to print their giant woodblocks. Collectively they ink, maneuver, and stretch sheets of muslin atop blocks in preparation for a visiting steamroller to press the massive artworks.

Photos by Kelly Driscoll

Cats

C: Cats

Cats

Prowling the Brooklyn campus since as early as the 1960s, the Pratt cats have charmed generations of students—and become perhaps the Institute’s most-photographed residents. More than a few student-run Instagram accounts are devoted to their adventures around the grounds. Even as campus quieted earlier this year, community members stayed connected to make sure the six official feline occupants—with two more considering residency—were cared for and that fans and friends were updated on their status.    

Draw-A-Thon

D: Draw-a-Thon

Draw-a-Thon

For more than three decades, art and endurance have collided for one night at Pratt’s Draw-a-Thon. Founded in 1989 by the late artist and Pratt professor Al Blaustein, the event invites participants to embark on a 12-hour, overnight figure-drawing session, sustained by snacks, coffee, and music. Each spring, Draw-a-Thon has brought together a vibrant mix of Pratt students, alumni old and new, and artists from the wider community, professional and aspiring alike, many of whom return year after year. While the event is on hold this year, the organizing team eagerly anticipates the return of this Pratt tradition.

Photos include detail of work by Clementine Martinez, BFA Communications Design ’10 (top left), and Jasper Waters, BID ’14 (top right)

Equestrian Team

E: Equestrian Team

Equestrian Team

The newest of Pratt’s varsity athletics teams, Pratt Equestrian has been competing since 2018 with riders from other regional colleges in the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association. (Pratt Athletics also sponsors teams in six sports that compete within the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Division III, of which the Institute became a provisional member last year.) Despite the physical distance between them this fall, the equestrian team continued to gather virtually for team dinners while looking forward to their next semester in the saddle.

Photos by Joe DuPont

Foundations Lab

F: Foundations Lab

Foundations Lab

In a recently renovated space in Main Building, the Foundations Lab is a hub for investigation of objects and organisms, a cabinet of curiosities for Pratt artists and designers across disciplines. Specimens from nature are cataloged alongside manmade materials for an expansive hands-on exploratory experience, and elements of the lab’s collection are now accessible offsite as well, through a digital image library. To enhance the Foundation program’s virtual teaching and learning this year, the Lab has also become a space for faculty to record workshops and lectures that interact with the Lab’s resources.

Photos by Armon Burton, MSIXD ’20

Galleries

G: Galleries

Galleries

Pratt’s numerous exhibition spaces—from Pratt Manhattan Gallery, to the Rubelle and Norman Schafler Gallery, to Higgins Hall’s Hazel and Robert H. Siegel Gallery—connect the academic community to the world of art and design. They are places for students to professionalize their practice through exhibitions of their work; for faculty, staff, and students to curate and experiment; and for broader audiences to engage with visiting exhibitions as well as the annual public celebration of student work that is Pratt Shows. In 2020, Pratt Shows exhibitions, along with a number of other shows rolling out over the year, have adapted and become even more accessible as digital experiences.

Horses on Campus

H: Horses on Campus

Horses on Campus

An annual Pratt tradition for more than 20 years, Horses on Campus gives students the unique opportunity to study and sketch the presence, form, and motion of live “models” of the equine variety. The event, created by photography professor Sarah van Ouwerkerk, has featured horses grazing on Pratt’s lawns in Brooklyn, for students of all disciplines to draw, paint, photograph, film, and experience in the open air.

Infoshow

I: Infoshow

Infoshow

Held since 2013, Infoshow is the annual exhibition of work by students of Pratt’s School of Information, pursuing explorations in a range of fields from library and information science to data analytics and visualization. This year’s edition was made exclusively virtual, as part of the Pratt Shows digital experience. For the info-curious, work presented at Infoshows past is also accessible digitally in an online collection.

Juliana Curran Terian Design Center

J: Juliana Curran Terian Design Center

Juliana Curran Terian Design Center

The gateway to Pratt’s School of Design programs, the Juliana Curran Terian Design Center is a reminder of the connectedness among disciplines at Pratt. Opened in 2007, the Design Center structure formed a bridging link between two of Pratt’s existing academic buildings, Pratt Studios and Steuben Hall, where communications, fashion, industrial, interior, and package design studies flourish today. The building was designed by Thomas Hanrahan, professor of architecture and former dean of the School of Architecture, with Hanrahan Meyers Architects.

K-12 Community

K: K-12 Community

K-12 Community

Home to one of Pratt’s most long-established programs, the Center for Art, Design, and Community Engagement K-12 encompasses the Saturday Art School, which has been teaching children and teens since 1897; the Pratt Young Scholars scholarship program; the Summer Scholars intensive; and the after-school Design Initiative for Community Empowerment, or DICE. In summer and fall 2020, programs pivoted to the virtual classroom—with live synchronous teaching, and supplemental asynchronous learning experiences (like this transporting collage project by Saturday Art School student teacher Sophia Stokkeland, BFA Art and Design Education ’20)—and students kept on learning, and sharing their work made at home.

Library Stacks

L: Library Stacks

Library Stacks

Towers of ideas and inspiration, with quiet, moody corridors to nestle into reading, looking, thinking, working (and pondering life’s mysteries), the Brooklyn campus library’s stacks have incubated generations of student work. Even as the physical space awaits future visitors, along with Pratt’s library in Manhattan, the libraries’ resources are accessible in the digital realm—from Ask a Librarian hours and support from Archives, to new additions like walk-through videos of the most-popular artist books in the collection.

Metal Shop

M: Metal Shop

Metal Shop

The metal shop is Pratt’s buzzing, crackling, sparks-flying hub for all things metalworking, across majors. Although campus was changed this fall, the shop, along with other production and fabrication facilities around the Institute, continued to support student work.

Newman Mall & Clock

N: Newman Mall & Clock

Newman Mall and Clock

Brick pathways weave under a flowering canopy. Tiers of arced benches rise around gardens and greenery. The Newman Mall is a Brooklyn campus landmark and welcoming outdoor meeting spot, presided over by Pratt’s distinctive red sculptural clock. The clock was designed and donated by Trustee Emeritus Bruce M. Newman, BFA Interior Design ’53, in honor of Pratt’s 125th anniversary in 2012.

Open Studios

O: Open Studios

Open Studios

Open Studios offer yearly opportunities to see inside the projects and process of Pratt student artists. This year, students—such as members of the Pratt Photo League, with IGTV segments featuring gallery walk-throughs with student artists, and the Pratt Artists League, with their Artist Spotlight Series of Instagram profiles and videos interviewing graduating 2020 MFA recipients—used virtual platforms to invite audiences into the ideas they were pursuing with their work.

The Prattler

P: The Prattler

The Prattler

Pratt’s student read, student led newspaper, The Prattler, published since 1940, has transformed over the years in format, style, and storytelling with the leadership of every new cohort of visionaries. This fall, the 2020–2021 staff released the Transition issue, focused on the ways Pratt students are adapting to the changes this year has brought on, launching the publication year with a fully digital edition. (Also accessible online are fellow letter-P publications Prattonia, the Institute’s yearbook, and yours truly, Prattfolio.)

Queer Pratt’s Drag Show

Q: Queer Pratt’s Drag Show

Queer Pratt’s Drag Show

Bold, big-hearted performances take center stage during Pratt’s Pride Week each spring as Queer Pratt, the Institute’s official LGBTQ+ student group, hosts its annual Drag Show. While the experience of the show and competition may look a little different in 2021, the club has plans to keep up the tradition, started in 2013. To find out more about Queer Pratt’s community and events as well as other student communities and clubs at the Institute, visit Pratt’s listing of organizations

Photos courtesy of Queer Pratt

Research Open House

R: Research Open House

Research Open House

Every year, Pratt celebrates the research pioneered by faculty, students, and staff, connecting the academic community to industry, colleagues, and research enthusiasts beyond the Institute at Research Open House. This past spring’s event was reimagined in the wake of the pandemic as a virtual experience, giving exciting projects like the Pollinators Pavilion, Informed Misuse, and Smart Hives exposure via video and graphic presentations in the digital space.

Sculpture Park

S: Sculpture Park

Sculpture Park

More than 60 works by celebrated artists appear across Pratt’s Brooklyn campus, with many works visible on the adjacent sidewalks and streets (and in an online gallery)—such as Philip Grausman’s Leucantha, the marble-esque head gazing toward the mirrored facade of Myrtle Hall, and Mark di Suvero’s Paintbrush, stretching skyward just beyond the library. The Sculpture Park also includes pieces by Pratt alumni, such as Double Sbalzo by Beverly Pepper, Certificate, Illustration ’42, with its sweeping steel curves, and the cleverly placed Waiting for Coyote by Nao Matsumoto, MFA Sculpture ’00, a reminder that looking up can surprise us. View these works and more in the Sculpture Park Guide.

Taconic Fellowship

T: Taconic Fellowship

Taconic Fellowship

One of the Pratt Center for Community Development’s initiatives that support Pratt innovators in sharing their creative expertise “for a more just, equitable, sustainable New York City,” the Taconic Fellowship is awarded to faculty, students, and staff working on projects that touch communities across the five boroughs. Recent fellowship-supported work includes art education professor Theodora Skipitares’s collaborative stage production The Transfiguration of Benjamin Banneker and a therapeutic art workshop created by visiting artist Shaun Leonardo and Hannah Celli, MFA Fine Arts ’20. You can learn more about the Taconic Fellowship and other ways Pratt Center is working toward transformative community development in the city—like the Made in NYC initiative to support local manufacturing, research and policy work, and community partnerships—on the Pratt Center website.

Student Unions

Over the past few years, Pratt has revamped spaces for students to post up, come together, and collaborate on the Brooklyn and Manhattan campuses. The Brooklyn Student Union redesign, which features open interconnected spaces that welcome a range of solo and collective activity, was developed in consultation with students, through a Student Government–organized campus-wide design charrette. Meanwhile, Juan C. Matiz, BArch ’94, founder of Matiz Architecture & Design, infused the project with the perspective of a former student, serving as principal architect on the notable design.

Pratt in Venice

V: Pratt in Venice

Pratt in Venice

Just one of the study-abroad opportunities offered by Pratt, along with programs in Rome, Berlin, Copenhagen, Tokyo, and more, Pratt in Venice has given students the chance to broaden their global artistic horizons for 35 years and counting. The program immerses students in the city’s art, architecture, culture, and one-of-a-kind environment—a “dazzling interplay of water, light, and sky,” in the words of fine arts professor Michael Brennan. Brennan illuminates the lasting impressions of teaching and learning in the Floating City in a video series Pratt in Venice began releasing this fall, anticipating the future of international education at Pratt.

WPIR Radio

W: WPIR Radio

WPIR Radio

With origins in early college radio of the 1960s, WPIR has given generations of Pratt students a platform for aural expression and community connection. Shortly after hosting their first Battle of the Bands last spring semester before the city shut down, the station went on pause. But to keep spirits up during the hiatus, staff put together a playlist of “Quarantunes” on Spotify, followed by a growing list of staff picks to carry through until the station’s reopening. WPIR staff have also been working with show hosts to create their programs remotely while the physical station is closed.

Pratt Creative Xchange

X: Pratt Creative Xchange

Pratt Creative XChange

Activating collaboration among industrial design, interior design, communications design, and social sciences at the Institute, the recent initiative Pratt Creative Xchange also opened a door for students and faculty to partner with a community, imagining new ways to cultivate design industry on a local level. Basing their initial work in Kingston, New York, the Creative Xchange cohort teamed up with the regional high school and area artists on a multi-tiered design education and production project that drew inspiration from the city’s brick-manufacturing heritage and present-day creative industry. The project was highlighted in a short film and feature in Imagine a Place earlier this year.

You (and not just on Zoom!)

Y, Z: You (and not just on Zoom!)

You (and not just on Zoom!) 

Our Pratt is, after all, its people. While the virtual has supported our learning, teaching, and making in exciting ways, it has also spurred us to reimagine our in-real-life encounters looking toward the future. Those experiences promise to be even more expansive and full of potential for discovery when enmeshed with the digital enhancements that are continuing to open up our world and add new dimensions to our connectedness.