Category Archives: Art on Campus

A Bright New Day for Sunshine 2.0

One male actor and two females actors in robot costumes looking and laughing at a STEM tree

RIT/NTID alumnus Fred Michael Beam finds connections where others may not. As the coordinator of RIT/NTID’s traveling performance troupe Sunshine 2.0, Beam connects performing arts and science, technology, engineering and math—or STEM—themes, for deaf, hard-of-hearing and hearing children and adults around the country.

Sunshine 2.0 is a reboot of the Sunshine Too program that was created in 1980. During its 19-year history, Sunshine Too visited 48 states and numerous countries, providing more than 12,500 performances for more than 1.3 million people worldwide.

Beam brings a global perspective to Sunshine 2.0, having worked with a variety of dance companies, and has performed around the world.

For his outstanding work with the deaf community, Beam was chosen one of Essence magazine’s Real Men of the Year, and has been DEAF LIFE magazine’s Deaf Person of the Month.

“The vision of Sunshine 2.0 is to reach out to people and show them their commonality,” Beam said. “I’m interested in bridging the gap between communities and cultures.

“I was working in public schools in the Washington, D.C., area when I first saw Sunshine Too perform. I never thought that one day I would be re-establishing it.”

Sunshine 2.0 is made up of experienced performers Ronnie Bradley, a deaf actor and dancer from Washington, D.C., and Katie Mueller, who is hearing from Rochester and has a BFA in performance from Emerson College in Boston.

The troupe incorporates sign language and speech to ensure that all audiences can access the performances.

Sunshine 2.0 began this fall. As coordinator, Beam develops their themes, scripts and travel schedules.

“We are focused on the theme of bullying,” he said. “It’s an important and relatable topic. There is acting and poetry, written by deaf poets, spoken and sign language, dance and movement. Our ultimate goal is to share Sunshine 2.0 with the world.”

For Beam, coordinating a performing arts program that incorporates deafness and STEM themes is a perfect fit—he earned his degree at RIT/NTID in engineering technology in 1985 and was introduced to the performing arts.

“It feels like this job was made for me,” he said.

Beam was first exposed to theater at NTID, having been asked to join the dance troupe in part because of his moves on the RIT basketball court.

“The dance teacher was watching a game and asked me to join his class. I then got involved in theater at NTID and graduated with a rich theater experience.”

Beam’s depth of experience as a performer, coordinator and member of the deaf community are assets as he looks to grow Sunshine 2.0.

“This program can reach so many students with its messages of hope and inclusion,” said Gerry Buckley, NTID president and RIT vice president and dean. “We are fortunate to have Fred ‘back home’ at NTID leading the resurgence of Sunshine 2.0.”

Editor's note: Ivanna Genievsky from Frederick, Maryland,  has been added to the troupe since the printing of this article.

RIT/NTID sponsors national art competition for deaf, hard-of-hearing high school students

Artist rendering of brown feathers in close up view

Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf announces the annual Digital Arts, Film and Animation Competition for high school students who are deaf or hard-of-hearing. Students in grades 9 through 12 will compete for $250 cash prizes, and the winners’ work will be exhibited in RIT/NTID’s Joseph F. and Helen C. Dyer Arts Center and on the college website.

The national competition recognizes students’ artistic expression with awards in film, graphic media, interactive media, photo imaging, 3-D animation and webpage design. See the competition website for previous winners in these categories.

Students may submit up to two entries. Online entry forms, contest rules and other details are available at www.rit.edu/ntid/dafac/. The submission deadline is March 1.

For more information about NTID, go to www.rit.edu/NTID.

NCAA features RIT/NTID alumna Natalie Snyder

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has created a video spot for its “Pathway to Opportunity” series that features RIT/NTID alumna Natalie Snyder. A biomedical sciences major who graduated this past May, Snyder broke several RIT diving records while a member of the swimming and diving team. She currently is pursuing a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.

Young artists, writers win RIT/NTID’s digital arts, film, writing competitions

Wings, created by high school student Mai Lee Vang is a close up illustration of bird wings of various shades of brown.

Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf has announced the winners of the annual Digital Arts, Film and Animation Competition for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Students, as well as the SpiRIT Writing Contest.

The Digital Arts, Film and Animation Competition for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Students, in its 10th year, generated dozens of entries in graphic media, photo imaging, film and 3D animation.

The winners of each category, receiving a $250 prize, are:

  • Film: Paola Colon of Chelsea, Mass., a student at Boston Arts Academy, for School Bullies.
  • Graphic Media: Reverlin Young of Hemet, Calif., a student at California School for the Deaf-Riverside, for The Story of My Life.
  • Photo Imaging: Mai Lee Vang of Gentry, Ark., a student at Arkansas School for the Deaf, for Wings.
  • 3D Animation: Austin Marden of Marion, Ind., a student at Indiana School for the Deaf, for Ghost Falcon.

The runners-up were:

  • Film: Christopher Kurogi of Orem, Utah, a student at Orem High School, for Rulu Adventure.
  • Graphic Media: Nabeela Shollenberger of Boonton, N.J., a student at Governor Livingston High School, for Cartoon Self-Portrait/Photoshop.
  • Photo Imaging: Guillermo “Alex” Castaneda of Little Rock, Ark., a student at Arkansas School for the Deaf, for Branford Pear, and Deanda Holloway of Lonoke, Ark., a student at Arkansas School for the Deaf, for Drip Drop.

The winning entries may be seen at www.rit.edu/ntid/dafac/winners.

Winners of the SpiRIT Writing Contest were Eliana Rosenzweig of Rye Brook, N.Y., a student at Blind Brook High School for The Power of Premonition and Judgment; Christopher Brookes of North Chili, N.Y., a student at Bishop Kearney High School for his untitled submission; Regan Brady of Shaker Heights, Ohio, a student at Hathaway Brown School for Huck Finn: America’s Son; and Mia Hoffman of Westerville, Ohio, a student at Westerville North High School for Life Behind the Hearing Aid.

Writing contest winners receive their choice of $500 or a spot at NTID’s Explore Your Future summer camp.

For more information on the SpiRIT Writing Contest, go to www.rit.edu/ntid/writingcontest/.

Brick City Speaker Announced

Young man in blue t-shirt backward baseball cap stand on NY street

Brandon Stanton, the man who created the popular Humans of New York blog and books depicting portraits of life and individuals in New York City, will be this year’s Student Government Horton Distinguished Speaker during Rochester Institute of Technology’s Brick City Homecoming & Family Weekend, Oct. 14-16.

Stanton’s Humans of New York, which has more than 22.5 million followers on Facebook and Instagram, said it all began as a photography project in 2010, with a goal to photograph 10,000 New Yorkers on the street as a catalog of the city’s residents.

Stanton’s talk will be 2-3 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 15, at the Gordon Field House. Tickets are $5 for RIT students; $10 for RIT faculty, staff, alumni and families; and $15 for the public. Tickets are available at the Brick City Homecoming website, https://www.rit.edu/brickcity/ or at University Arenas Box Office.

The weekend typically draws 17,000 participants to RIT’s campus and the Rochester area. It features more than 100 events during three days, including notable speakers and men and women’s hockey games.

“We have a plethora of new and exciting activities planned for everyone at this year’s family weekend,” said Lynn Rowoth, assistant vice president of special events and director of Brick City Homecoming. “With a wide array of speakers, tours, reunions, athletic events and so much more, the appeal is broad to intrigue and attract our students, parents, families, alumni, staff, faculty and guests.”

Visit the Brick City Homecoming & Family Weekend website for updates.

RIT School of Film and Animation ranked nationally

RIT School of Film and Animation among best in country.

Rochester Institute of Technology’s School of Film and Animation is once again among the top film schools in the country as ranked by Animation Career Review, a leading online source of information for aspiring animation and game design professionals. It received high marks for academic reputation; admission selectivity; the program’s depth, breadth and faculty; value as it relates to tuition; and geographic location. SOFA program offerings include a BFA and MFA in film and animation, and a BS degree in motion picture science, giving RIT one of the broadest curriculum choices in the country. More.

RIT/NTID celebrates Black History Month with rare exhibit of black deaf artists, three-day symposium

“Dancing Lady with the Jazz” art features painting of three black musicians

In celebration of Black History Month, the Joseph F. and Helen C. Dyer Arts Center at Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf hosts a rare exhibit showcasing the work of black deaf artists around the globe.

“Unfolding the Soul of Black Deaf Expressions” runs through Feb. 27 and features more than 150 works of art from 30 black deaf artists. Pieces stem from a variety of artistic media including paintings, photography and drawings.

A three-day symposium will also be held Feb. 25–27 in the Dyer Arts Center. Many of the presentations are free including “Empowering Young Black Deaf Artists” by Emily Blachly; “Preserving the Legacy of Black Deaf Art,” by LeeAnne Valentine; “How to be an Art Patron,” by Fred Beam and Earl Terry; and “Success Stories of Black Deaf Artists,” presented by a group of participating artists. For a complete schedule of events, go to the Dyer Arts Center website.

“One of the goals of the Dyer Arts Center is to display exhibits promoting cultural groups at least once a year,” said Tabitha Jacques, gallery director. “This season, we are proudly featuring the magnificent work of black deaf artists. It’s important to us that Dyer Arts Center’s exhibits and programs encourage discussion on the myriad types of art that are found within the deaf community.”

For more information about the exhibit, go to the Dyer Arts Center websiteFacebook page or Instagram page, @dyerartscenter. Gallery hours are 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 1–5 p.m., Saturdays.

RIT points of pride

A world leader in education and access for deaf and hard-of-hearing students.

Rochester Institute of Technology is emerging as one of the world’s most innovative, agile, diverse and forward-thinking universities. At RIT, we forge greatness by being different. We are a world leader in education and access for deaf and hard-of-hearing students. We have students who improve HIV medications in Africa, conduct remote sensing on volcanoes in Iceland, help select the Mars 2020 rover landing site, and win national cyber-defense competitions. And we have faculty who invent wearable technologies that protect soldiers, who work on the nation’s top advanced manufacturing initiatives, and are named U.S. Professor of the Year.

This is just a start. Check out the RIT Points of Pride website.