Written by Colin Rudd

Photographed by Shelby Loebker

On the night of Thursday November 8, the SCAD Museum of Art Auditorium and Pei Ling Chang Gallery were buzzing with inspiration and discovery as SCAD unveiled works completed by this quarter’s Alumni Atelier Ambassadors.

The projects were commissioned as part of the up and coming SCAD program known as the Alumni Atelier Program.This eight-week residency program, developed by SCAD President and Founder Paula Wallace, gives alumni the opportunity to return to SCAD in order to receive funding, space and resources to complete a piece. Interested alumni submit a proposal in response to an RFP, detailing the project they want to complete and donate back to their alma mater.

“People helped me when I started SCAD,” Wallace explains and as a result, she wants to do the same for alumni. “We have a growing number of alumni and they’re making such an impact on the world and they often come back and hire current students and are recruiting for their companies, especially to find new talent.

“[The Atelier Program] is a good chance to connect with current students.”

In the past, the final exhibition had been combined with other events, but this quarter, the program held its own independent event, The Alumni Atelier Galerie, allowing for a focus on the alumni’s work alone. In fact, this year’s alumni atelier exhibition was the largest to date.

The evening began with a viewing of behind the scenes work on a documentary by Madison Hamburg (B.F.A. film and television) in the SCAD Museum Auditorium. It continued in the Pei Lei Chang Gallery where the work of Julien Bouil (B.F.A. accessory design), Matt Nickley (B.F.A. performing arts), Eny Lee Parker (B.F.A. interior design) and Gretchen Wagner (B.F.A. fibers) was displayed.

Madison Hamburg’s project is the first film project in the atelier program. The documentary is being developed with the help of SCAD resources and a student crew. This has allowed students to obtain valuable, real world experience. In addition to the student crew, a skeleton crew of professionals has been filming behind the scenes to document the organic moments and ever changing possibilities of the documentary’s production.  While no further information can currently be released about the film itself, Hamburg says “the documentary will be done when it feels done.”

Bouil crafted all of the textiles and materials for his shoes by hand.

In the Pei Lei Chang Gallery, an impressive series of shoes, inspired by themes like luxury, athleticism and the past and the future, were displayed by Julien Bouil. Bouil designed two lines of shoes, one SCAD themed and another a personal collection, which Bouil hopes to take to mass production soon. One athletic pair featured a sleek black design with a SCAD logo across the back of the foot and yellow accents inside. Other shoes were crafted with animal skin patterns while another pair was based on geometric forms that emphasized power.

Matt Nickley showed a filmed skit and then performed two pitches, with the help of current students. SCAD will be considering one of the three pitches for their next sitcom after “The Buzz.” The first pitch, called “Task Force U” is a satirical comedy sitcom in mockumentary style.  The show reveals what its like behind the scenes as an art school campus security officer. “Sights and Sounds” is a comedy about the staff of a Savannah tour company who are up in arms when they learn that their deceased boss left the business to her nephew.

SCAD performing arts students read “Sights and Sounds” for the audience.

Lastly, Nickley presented a dramedy about a seemingly happy marriage of two psychiatrists. Nickley explained why he wanted to focus on comedy for his skits. “[I] believe it’s the best form of medicine” he said. “It can make a difference in someone’s day.”

Eny Lee Parker displayed her impressive collection of contemporary tables and lights entitled “Totem Tables and Chain Lighting.” Each piece was beautifully symmetrical, graceful and balanced.

Parker’s “intimate” collection was created with terracotta thrown on a wheel.

She described the process of creating the pieces like “pulling up the earth, since it’s from the ground.” She explained how using terracotta for this series has allowed her to feel more connected to the earth.

Lastly, Gretchen Wagner presented “Wheel,” an interactive ring of colored silk panels, arranged in the order of a color wheel.

“I want to make people happy,” Wagner said.

“There’s a tangible connection to color and I wanted people to interact with the colors and combinations,” Wagner explained. Being inside the ring was in fact a very immersive experience. The colors seemed to bounce off of the silk and gracefully blended from one panel to the other.

Overall, if one word could be used to describe the alumni atelier program, I’d had to agree with Madison Hamburg: “irreplaceable.

“It’s a way for SCAD to allow a powerful and inspiring environment.”

“It allows you to push yourself and to grow not just as an artist, but as a human being,” Hamburg explained, “[This program is] all about the artist.”