Category Archives: Art on Campus

RIT/NTID Dyer Arts Center director named ‘40 Under 40’ honoree

Light skinned female with short dark hair, wearing grey blazer and multicolored scarf standing next to art sculpture.

Known throughout Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf as a “force of nature,” Tabitha Jacques has been selected as a 2018 Forty Under 40 honoree by the Rochester Business Journal.

As director of NTID’s Joseph F. and Helen C. Dyer Arts Center, Jacques has been credited with expanding the number and enhancing the quality of exhibitions, including curating first-ever exhibits by deaf, black and deaf, Latinx artists; increasing NTID’s permanent collection of art, making it one of the largest collections of works by deaf artists anywhere in the world; collaborating with other organizations, including the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, to highlight art work by people with disabilities; and, along with RIT/NTID’s Center on Access Technology, has developed a mobile application providing gallery accessibility to deaf, hard-of-hearing, deaf-blind and blind museum visitors.

“Since arriving at NTID three years ago, Tabitha has moved all measurables in a positive direction,” said Gerry Buckley, NTID president and RIT vice president and dean. “Tabitha is working to change the face of museum accessibility in the Rochester area, and her efforts will bring about countless benefits to the Rochester community and beyond.”

Jacques, from Baton Rouge, La., formerly worked as assistive communication technology program manager at the Office of Deaf and Hard of Hearing in Washington state and as an admissions counselor at Gallaudet University. Prior to that, she worked as an exhibit curator for the Gallaudet University Museum Project and as an adjunct professor. She was also special projects coordinator for the National Postal Museum at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. She earned a Master of Arts in art history and museum studies from Georgetown University. In 2009, she received the Diversity Fellowship from the American Association of Museums, and she wrote the publication Introduction and Experience Within Space. She is also an accomplished lecturer.

Valerie Alhart, a 2015 graduate of RIT’s Saunders College of Business, is also among the honorees. Alhart, who earned her MBA, is senior director of marketing and communications for Pandion Optimization Alliance.

RBJ’s Forty Under 40 recognizes 40 men and women, under the age of 40, who have achieved professional success and have also made significant civic contributions to the community. The recipients will be honored Nov. 14 in a ceremony at the Joseph A. Floreano Rochester Riverside Convention Center.

More than 3,000 celebrate at RIT/NTID’s 50th anniversary alumni reunion

Three alumni, two younger and one older, together smiling.

More than 3,000 alumni from Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf visited campus June 28 –July 1 to celebrate at the college’s 50th anniversary alumni reunion.

The world’s first and largest technological college for deaf and hard-of-hearing students kicked off a year-long celebration of its 50-year history, which coincides with RIT’s move to the Henrietta, New York, campus.

Festivities began with an alumni golf tournament at Mill Creek Golf Club Thursday, June 28, and an opening ceremony that evening, hosted by alumnus and actor CJ Jones. Jones, who recently starred in the motion picture “Baby Driver” and will be featured in the upcoming James Cameron sequel, “Avatar 2.”

Other events and activities during the reunion weekend included a barbeque dinner, mini-reunions for current and former members of numerous clubs and organizations, including fraternities and sororities, and entertainment by popular alumni such as hip-hop artist Sean Forbes, ASL performance artist Rosa Lee Timm and actors Amber Zion, Kris Pumphrey and Daniel Durant, who most recently starred on Broadway in the revival of “Spring Awakening.”  

In addition to alumni from the college’s ‘pioneer’ class and founding faculty, four of RIT/NTID’s past leaders attended the reunion: founding director D. Robert Frisina; Robert Davila, the college’s first deaf leader; James J. DeCaro; and T. Alan Hurwitz. The college’s current leader, Gerard Buckley, is the first alumnus to lead the institution, which boasts more than 8,000 graduates.

The college’s Dyer Arts Center hosted an exhibition “50 Artists, 50 Years” featuring works by 50 RIT/NTID alumni artists along with the unveiling of a three-paneled mural, known as a triptych, entitled “Together” created by deaf artist Susan Dupor and commissioned for the 50th anniversary. “Together” portrays the flourishing life and history of the National Technical Institute of the Deaf over 50 years.

RIT/NTID Performing Arts and MSM Productions, Ltd. reprised the popular “The Wonderful World of Oz” in the college’s Panara Theatre for four special performances with proceeds to benefit the theater program.

Founded by an act of Congress in 1965, with the first class enrolled in 1968, NTID represents the first concerted effort to educate large numbers of deaf students within a college campus planned principally for hearing students. Among RIT's 18,000 full- and part-time students are nearly 1,100 deaf students from the United States and other countries.

NTID alumni have gone on to work and leadership positions in all areas of business, industry, government and non-profit sectors.

“We are thrilled that so many alumni from near and far joined us to celebrate 50 years of RIT/NTID,” Buckley said. “The sense of Tiger Pride was evident throughout the campus all weekend, and will leave an indelible impression on all of us who were in attendance.”

To commemorate the milestone, a book, “A Shining Beacon: Fifty Years of the National Technical Institute for the Deaf,” edited by RIT/NTID alumnus James K. McCarthy, has been published by RIT Press.

A photo gallery of the weekend's events can be found in here.

RIT/NTID exhibits highlight 50 years of deaf art and history

artwork with a woman's face, butterflies, clocks, grid, colored balls, flowers and more.

As part of its 50th anniversary activities, Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf will host a “50 Artists 50 Years” exhibition in the college’s Dyer Arts Center. The exhibition opened June 22 and runs through Oct. 20, with an artists’ reception 4 p.m. Friday, Oct. 19.

NTID, the world’s first and largest technological college for deaf and hard-of-hearing students, has graduated many talented artists throughout its 50-year history. The exhibition showcases 50 alumni artists, displaying more than 100 works of art, including mediums such as painting, photography, mixed media, wood, textile, watercolors and more. 

Works by well-known artists such as the late Chuck Baird, along with local artists Laural Hartman and many others are included in the exhibition.

Along with the “50 Artists 50 Years” exhibition, the center will host an NTID's History exhibition in the Milton H. and Ray B. Ohringher Gallery, displaying a variety of memorabilia and highlighting the contributions made by RIT/NTID alumni, faculty, staff and students.

On Friday, June 29, as part of 50th anniversary reunion festivities, a triptych—or three-paneled work—by deaf artist Susan Dupor will be unveiled. NTID commissioned Dupor, who attended the college, to create this triptych to mark the college’s 50th anniversary.  

According to Dupor, the piece, entitled “Together,” visualizes NTID’s 50-year journey.

“‘Together’ honors the people of our past who have aspired to create a better future for us; we now take the time to look back and give appreciation and gratitude for their efforts,” Dupor said.

“Together” portrays the flourishing life and history of the National Technical Institute of the Deaf over 50 years. A vital and complex place that brings people together. In the painting, 50 people are gathered together on the Frisina Quad, which is central to NTID. Surrounded by the Dining Commons, Lyndon Baines Johnson Hall and Tower A, figures from five decades are juxtaposed by a color scheme and fashion trends of their eras.

“NTID is a palette of people from all walks of life, which makes it an extraordinarily global community,” Dupor said. “Figures are conversing in sign language; each signed word has a special connection and meaning representing NTID. The figures symbolize everyday people who elicit long-lost memories of people we have known in the past who have been buried in the deepest recesses of our minds.”

 

Thousands expected to celebrate at RIT/NTID’s 50th anniversary reunion

NTID 50th Anniversary Reunion in brown with orange graphics representing buildings on campus.

More than 3,000 alumni from Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf are expected to visit campus for a reunion June 28 –July 1 to celebrate the college’s 50th anniversary.

The world’s first and largest technological college for deaf and hard-of-hearing students will kick off a year-long celebration of its 50-year history, which coincides with RIT’s move to the Henrietta, New York, campus.

The festivities will begin with an alumni golf tournament at Mill Creek Golf Club Thursday, June 28, with an opening ceremony that evening, hosted by alumnus and actor CJ Jones. Jones recently starred in the motion picture “Baby Driver” and will be featured in the upcoming James Cameron sequel, “Avatar 2.”

Other events and activities during the reunion weekend include a barbeque dinner, mini-reunions for current and former members of numerous clubs and organizations, including fraternities and sororities, and entertainment by popular alumni such as hip-hop artist Sean Forbes and actors Amber Zion, Kris Pumphrey and Daniel Durant, who most recently starred on Broadway in the revival of “Spring Awakening.”  

In addition to alumni from the college’s ‘pioneer’ class and founding faculty, four of RIT/NTID’s past leaders will be in attendance: founding director D. Robert Frisina; Robert Davila, the college’s first deaf leader; James J. DeCaro; and T. Alan Hurwitz. The college’s current leader, Gerard Buckley, is the first alumnus to lead the institution, which boasts more than 8,000 graduates.

The college’s Dyer Arts Center will host an exhibition “50 Artists, 50 Years” featuring works by 50 RIT/NTID alumni artists. The center will also host the unveiling of a three-paneled mural, known as a triptych, entitled “Together” created by deaf artist Susan Dupor and commissioned for the 50th anniversary.  “Together” portrays the flourishing life and history of the National Technical Institute of the Deaf over 50 years.

RIT/NTID Performing Arts and MSM Productions, Ltd. will reprise the popular “The Wonderful World of Oz” in the college’s Panara Theatre for four special performances with proceeds to benefit the theater program. Tickets can be purchased through the RIT Box Office.

Founded by an act of Congress in 1965, with the first class enrolled in 1968, NTID represents the first concerted effort to educate large numbers of deaf students within a college campus planned principally for hearing students. Among RIT's 18,000 full- and part-time students are nearly 1,100 deaf students from the United States and other countries.

Since its founding, alumni have gone on to work and leadership positions in all areas of business, industry, government and non-profit sectors.

“We are thrilled that so many alumni from near and far will be joining us to celebrate 50 years of RIT/NTID,” Buckley said. “We have a lot of great activities planned, but this reunion is really about old friends reminiscing and reflecting on how far we’ve come in just 50 short years.”

To commemorate the milestone, a book, “A Shining Beacon: Fifty Years of the National Technical Institute for the Deaf,” edited by RIT/NTID alumnus James K. McCarthy, has been published by RIT Press.

Editor’s note: Media is invited to attend RIT/NTID’s 50th Anniversary Reunion Opening Ceremony 6 p.m. Thursday, June 28, in the Gene Polisseni Center on the RIT campus.

Additional photos and video clips of RIT/NTID’s 50th Anniversary Reunion weekend can be made available to members of the media by contacting susan.murad@rit.edu.

 

 

RIT lecturer Eric Kunsman receives 2018 Edline M. Chun Award

light skinned male and female with small boy and girl. man is holding a clear glass award.

Eric Kunsman, a lecturer for the Visual Communications Studies Department in RIT's National Technical Institute for the Deaf and an adjunct professor for the School of Photographic Arts and Sciences in the College of Imaging Arts and Sciences (CIAS), is the fifth recipient of the Edline M. Chun Award for Outstanding Teaching and Service.

Named in honor of the late RIT adjunct professor Edline Chun, the award has been given annually since 2014 to a CIAS adjunct faculty member who exemplifies excellence and dedication in teaching and who has given outstanding service to a CIAS-affiliated school and to the college.

“This award means a lot to me since I knew and admired Edline, and I know what it represents,” said Kunsman, who also owns Booksmart Studio, a fine art digital printing studio in Rochester, N.Y., specializing in innovative techniques and services for photographers and book artists. “Owning my own business, I know the importance of staying relevant and passionate in the industry, and I try to bring that excitement to the classroom.”

Before coming to RIT in 2000, Kunsman, a native of Bethlehem, Pa., was an assistant professor at Mercer County Community College, where he also served as the coordinator of the photography program. He has led national workshops on photography and digital printing. He holds an MFA in book arts/printmaking from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia and an MS in electronic publishing/graphic arts media, a BS in biomedical photography and BFA in fine art photography, all from RIT.

In addition, Kunsman’s photographs and books have been exhibited internationally and can be seen on display in several prominent collections throughout the United States.

“Eric is a dedicated and passionate member of the SPAS team who exemplifies all of the qualities of an outstanding faculty member,” said Therese Mulligan, administrative chair of SPAS. “Whether he’s teaching students or playing a key role in SPAS initiatives such as the signature RIT Big Shot, Eric brings real-world industry knowledge to the classroom combined with a sincere interest in helping students learn the material and succeed in their careers.”

Ms. Chun was a well-respected and beloved faculty member who taught in CIAS for nearly two decades. Her colleagues in RIT’s School of Media Sciences described her as someone who “always went above and beyond to serve the students and the school with passion, integrity and the utmost class.”

RIT/NTID develops museum accessibility mobile app

Two men, one with white hair and one with dark hair, looking at a mobile phone in front of artwork.

Art lovers who are deaf or hard-of-hearing soon will have access to a deeper, richer museum experience, thanks to Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf. The college is launching a mobile app to be used in its Dyer Arts Center that provides content in various forms, including video in American Sign Language, transcripts and audio and visual descriptions. The app was developed by members of RIT/NTID’s Center on Access Technology in cooperation with Dyer personnel and deaf and hard-of-hearing students from two of RIT’s other colleges: the B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing & Information Sciences and the College of Imaging Arts and Science.

Wendy Dannels, Center on Access Technology research faculty member, mentors several part-time and co-op student employees on this one of a kind accessibility project. “It is a joy witnessing students building good character and self-confidence navigating this new technology,” she said.

The app will describe works on exhibit in three locations on the RIT campus: the NTID President’s Hallway, Rosica Hall and the arts center itself. There is a map showing the locations for the various exhibits contained within the app.

Information on the various art pieces can be accessed three ways: through a numbered system near each art piece that can be entered manually into the app, by taking a photo of a QR code, or though NFC, or Near Field Communication, a short range wireless communication technology that allows two devices equipped with NFC technology to communicate with each other and share information as soon as they are close to one another.

Additionally, the app, powered by Museum Accessibility Intelligence, or MUSEAI™, contains an option that has been developed for use by those with vision issues, using a dark background, large font size, visual descriptor and audio description. Associate Director of the Center on Access Technology, Brian Trager, foresees a huge impact in end-users’ experiences using MUSEAI.

“MUSEAI is a unique platform for museum goers to enjoy and view additional content regarding an exhibit, artwork, historical facts and more,” Trager said. “What makes MUSEAI unique is that we designed accessibility to be the forefront of this technology to enable an enjoyable experience for everyone. MUSEAI serves as the cornerstone for accessibility, and the NTID Center on Access Technology aims to raise the bar higher for museums across the globe.”

After the unveiling, focus groups will provide feedback as perpetual testing continues to refine the app and its abilities.

“We’re very excited about testing and launching the Dyer Arts App,” said Dyer Arts Center director Tabitha Jacques. “It will be especially helpful during NTID’s 50th Anniversary Reunion, happening June 28-July 1, when more than 2,500 people will be on campus – many of whom have never seen the Dyer Arts Center.”

RIT/NTID is home to one of the largest permanent collections of works by Deaf and hard-of-hearing artists in the world.

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

Artists image of a galloping horse in shades of browns, grays and whites

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. The contest, in its 11th year, generated dozens of entries in graphic media, photo illustration and 3D animation.

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

  • Graphic Media: Gabriel Veit of Austin, Texas, a student at Texas School for the Deaf, for The Wind.
  • Photo Illustration: Zee Grant of Denver, Colo., a student at Rocky Mountain Deaf School, for Snow Life.
  • 3D Animation: Connor Switenky of Frederick, Md., a student at Maryland School for the Deaf, for Phantasma.

The runners-up were:

  • Graphic Media: Jeni Kim of Charleston, S.C., a student at Charleston County School of the Arts, for Color of Silence.
  • Photo Illustration: Samantha Suarez of Jacksonville, Fla., a student at Florida School for the Deaf and Blind, for No Matter What’s Inside, and Nydia Cooper of St. James, La., a student at Ascension Catholic High School, for The River Meets Bayou.

Honorable mentions were:

  • Interactive Media: Denali Thorn of Indianapolis, a student at Indiana School for the Deaf, for UFO Kid.
  • Graphic Media: Grace Kominsky of Mount Wolf, Pa., a student at Northeastern Senior High School, for Instrumental Elephantal Semblance.

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

High school students in 10th or 11th grades won prizes for the RIT/NTID SpiRIT Writing Contest for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Students. Winners have their choice of a scholarship and travel expenses to NTID’s Explore Your Future program, or a $500 cash prize.

Winners of the SpiRIT Writing Contest were Cecilia Gallagher of Bunker Hill, W.V., a student at Musselman High School, for Memories of the Fallen; and Hannah Van Sant of Sully, Iowa, a student at Pella Christian High School, for An Article Gone Awry. Honorable mentions were presented to Anna Kasper of St. Louis Park, Minn., a student at St. Louis Park High School, for Siddhartha’s Detachment; and Lillie Brown of Jacksonville, Ill., a student at Illinois School for the Deaf, for Sixteen is Way Too Young. Says Who?!

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.