It’s 4:45 on a Friday afternoon, and I am getting very anxious.  In fifteen minutes the classroom I am currently taking Randy McIver’s ecorche intensive course in will become a massive and extraordinarily intricate game of painting storage Tetris and I am not convinced everything will fit.  It is time to prepare for Tribeca Ball.  An event the Academy hosts right here in the Academy, and we only have one little weekend to whip the building into shape.  There is nothing else like it, as a student that walks these halls daily, it boggles my mind how unrecognizable it becomes. 

This year I wanted to dive right in and get really involved to see just how this project works from start to finish.  You would not believe the team of people that work day in and day out to make this event happen.  I was lucky enough to work with one of the teams and help create the paper garden lounge in the basement. I spent hours during the week proceeding the event cutting folding and glue-gunning as many little paper flowers as I could produce… which turned out not to be all that many, but it was an eye opener for me to realize how much work goes into some of the elaborate decorations we see scattered about New York on a regular basis.  It was an incredible experience that has really opened my eyes to some of the different possibilities for me in this world.    
So now let’s get on with the event. I am sitting on this old recycled trunk in my studio, fidgeting and full of nerves, no idea what to expect.  The first thirty minutes go by and all I have successfully done is nervously stuff my face with tiny turkey sausages.  Then everything picked up.  The halls were crowded with people and the conversations and excitement began.  It was so exhilarating when I realized that people were actually interested in these paintings I’ve been working so hard on for the last two years.  I even sold a few, which is really just icing on the cake.  It opens up a whole new world for us as young artists to work day in and day out into the wee hours of the night and then to be given this unbelievable opportunity as students to show our stuff to an incredible audience of people.

Then suddenly three hours have flown by, and its time for the dinner.  I actually had the miraculous privilege of attending the dinner, which really summed up an already fantastic night.  Catered by the notable chef Daniel Boulud, the food was absolutely delicious! But, my favorite part was the little flower headdresses and boutonni√®res they provided at every seat for each of the guests.  It really brought the whole floral, garden theme full circle.  After we ate we got to the dancing with the fiery DJ Kiss.  The Van Cleef & Arpels models we had seen throughout the night appeared with amazing, giant paper flower headdresses.  My dad took pictures with them and it made him look famous.  Wouldn’t you know those girls could dance too!  Each had a bodyguard though to make sure they didn’t lose any of the lavish jewels they were dawning for the event.

Once all is said in done, the students reunited at one of the usual hang outs to celebrate the survival of yet another Tribeca Ball.  This year our fantastic little after party was held at the Tribeca Tavern.  Good friends and good fun made this years ball a great success! We hope to see you all there for our next event, OPEN STUDIOS from 6:00 to 9:00 at the Academy, April 25; also my 25th birthday (shameless plug!) can’t wait to see you all.


For more information on Helen Strickler please visit
To visit her studio in person, come to the Academy's Open Studios event on April 25th from 6-9pm where Helen and all of the Academy's artists-in-residence will open their creative spaces to the public and be on hand to discuss their work.

Studio Portraits: Nicolas V. Sanchez (Fellow 2014, MFA 2013)

Nicolas V. Sanchez, 2014 Fellow (Class of 2013)
Studio: 2nd Floor

Studio Portraits: Elisabeth McBrien (MFA 2014)

Elisabeth McBrien, Class of 2014
Studio: 2nd Floor


We were anxious!!! … and there was tons of work to do before, during and after Tribeca Ball. All the studios in the Academy and all the artists were sharp and ready for one of the most successful events in Tribeca. Right before the event started I was taken by a fear and a kind of insecurity. All of my works in my studio walls  were in progress and I had no idea about what to expect from the crowd.
Tribeca Ball attendee John Bowman visited my studio
A wave of agitation arose with every single step footstep and sounds of voices from the other end of the hall. Half an hour later it felt like a natural. I enjoyed the range of collectors and fresh responses inspired by my unfinished work.  For me it was a humble feeling.
We had journalists talking about art.  Teachers giving us a feedback about the work that we were showing and a line of guests waiting to listen what we have to say. All the artists worked very hard, it was beautiful to see everyone's works and being able to talk about our discoveries and conquering our first academic year.
It was an amazing success. Congratulations to the school for the awesome organization and the astonishing event!
My fellow classmate Eric Pedersen (MFA 2015) and I at the end of the evening
As we move closer to summer and the end of this semester, it will take couple of weeks to digest the storm of information that is just about to end.
Next up, I'll introduce you to more of my classmates and share their views from the studios.


Camila Rocha is the Academy's 2014 Social Media Scholar.  You can learn more about her and her work by visiting her website:  In the meanwhile you can find her musings about her first year experiences right here on the Academy's blog.


By Claire Cushman (MFA 2015)

On Monday March 24th,  Sharon Louden's Professional Practice Series presented esteemed art critics Roberta Smith  (New York Times) and Jerry Saltz (New York Magazine) in conversation with Randy Cohen for “Person Place Thing” in the Academy’s Wilkinson Hall.  The room’s walls, recently stripped of the ten “Big Picture” paintings and not yet adorned for Tribeca Ball, were, for once, bare. Guests outnumbered seats, and their excited chatter, along with live bluegrass music by Duncan Wilkel and Eric Robertson, filled the air.

For his unique spin on the one-on-one interview, Cohen, (former author of the New York Times “The Ethicist” column), invites prominent figures from various backgrounds to discuss one person, one place, and one thing they care about.

A hush fell over the room when Cohen introduced his guests, but as Smith and Saltz discussed their three items, (Donald Judd, the Met, and art), the audience often erupted into laughter. Though the atmosphere was generally light, some important lessons for artists emerged over the course of the conversation. Here are a few I believe are worth emphasizing:

Familiarize yourself with the Met (and art history at large).Before coming to the Academy, I knew very little about art history. I still know relatively little, but do feel that I have a much better understanding of the trajectory after History and Theory of Composition, and Art and Culture 1, which all Academy students are required to take during their first semester.
As the couple discussed their chosen place, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, they emphasized how important it is for artists to understand art history. They encourage all artists to really get to know The Met.  “It’s the greatest encyclopedic museum in the world,” says Saltz. “You have a responsibility as an artist to see how much there is, be humbled, and see what your options are.  And to know that you’ll never live up to it.”

You cannot see too much.

As we toil away in our studios, it’s easy to forget how much art is at our fingertips all over the city. Since I moved to New York for school, my friends have often asked me about living here, and my response is generally, “Well I’m usually at school…” This talk was a helpful reminder to get out more.
“We go to 20, 30 galleries a week, and museums on Sundays,” says Saltz. “Galleries and museums are ecstasy machines – you experience your autonomy while looking at an autonomous object, and it’s great.” The couple underlines the importance of going to see the things you don’t like, as much as the shows you do. “The bad shows teach you as much as the good shows, or even more,” says Saltz. “If you go to Chelsea and see a show and think it’s bad, figure out why.”

Copy, and Redefine Skill
In discussing Donald Judd, Smith explained how after emerging from the Whitney Independent Study program, she copied Judd’s writing extensively to better understand it, in terms of both craft and content.  Judd was a Renaissance man, “almost as powerful a writer as he was an artist,” she says. “He used words in a way that were unusual but legible.”
Copying to understand applies not only to writing, but of course also to art. Every Academy student is required to complete numerous Master Copies over the course of his or her two years at the Academy. To successfully copy a masterwork is to understand how the artist achieved his or her final product.
What’s challenging is taking the skills learned from copying to the next level.  “In this school, you’re learning time-honored skills,” says Saltz. “You need to reinvent them.” A common criticism most art students hear from their teachers is that whatever they’re doing has already been done.  “Don’t listen to ‘it’s been done’,” Saltz says. “Instead, do it again. Until you make it yours. Do the American flag until its not Jasper Johns’ anymore: Its yours.”

Follow your oddball nature:

What these critics are attracted to in art is a certain intensity. “I’m interested in a glitch, Saltz says. “In some pieces, you can see that the artist is focusing so hard that it herniates, and boom! That’s art.” Saltz compares the type of art he likes with what he typically sees in Chelsea galleries. “The Chelsea stuff can be so generic in its failures. What I like has a certain kind of blatancy to it. The failures are more flamboyant.”
“All artists are self taught,” says Smith. “So much of what we do is inborn- our handwriting, our voice… Artistry comes in many shapes and sizes.” Saltz advises students to “follow your oddball obsession,” to make all that art that we are specifically impelled to make. “Make your bad art. Honor that part of your work. Do EVERYTHING. Don’t make PRODUCT.”
In short, Saltz and Smith advise us to first understand the variety of options we have as artists, then to make the art that is most meaningful to us as individuals. Although they may not have known it, their advice lines up incredibly neatly with the Academy’s mission.  At the New York Academy of Art, “We believe that rigorously trained artists are best able to realize their artistic vision.”
Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? One final note, from Saltz: “it only takes a lifetime.”

To learn more about Claire Cushman (MFA 2015), take a peak at her bio and recent paintings.  Remember, your thoughts are welcomed. 
Please visit Person Place or Thing's website to download the complete podcast. Follow these links for more details about the Academy's Professional Practice series and it's creator, artist and faculty-member Sharon Louden.

TRIBECA BALL TOP TEN (for artists-in-residence)

by Nicolas V. Sanchez (MFA 2013, Fellow 2014)

Tribeca Ball is an annual event produced by the Academy to showcase its stellar artists. The Academy invites a tremendous amount of people who are all eager to visit the school’s artists-in-residence and see all of their work.  As a student, you participate in the event by displaying your work for easy viewing or by simply just working in your studio like any other day. It's a great opportunity for emerging artists to gain experience in a social environment where your work is front and center.
As artists, we each have different goals, some of which may include meeting people, introducing your work, and possibly selling a piece or two. When asked by the Academy to give my top ten list of preparations and things to keep in mind during the days leading up to the Tribeca Ball, here is what I came up with...

1. Arrange your work. You can choose the "all over" salon style, the clean selected works gallery look, or somewhere in between. Think about your goals for the night and what arrangement will help your work shine. 

2. Clean up vs natural work space. Again, you don't have to go through all of the trouble of re-arranging your studio. Letting people in to your unique work space can be just as interesting and exciting as organizing and exhibiting your work. 

3. Be prepared. Have business cards, a sign-in book, your website updated, prices for your work (price list), and a pen. Always have a pen in hand. You look amazing with a pen. Preferably a ballpoint pen. 

4. Dress good to feel good – not to impress. If putting on a suit and tie or nice dress brings out the confident and outgoing side of you, then great! If not, just don't be scraggly. 

5. Practice your moonwalk before the event. Do whatever helps you shake off any sweaty, shaky, awkward nerves. I may or may not give an "impromptu" dance lesson before the event. Easy on the liquid spirits. 

6. Mi casa es su casa! Be a good host. Smile and welcome people into your studio. 

7. Be engaging. Don't be afraid to highlight your work or yourself to let people know a little something about you, especially if they are looking intently at your work. Speak up! A conversation starter could be, "I made that while on my residency in China.." or "Please buy that. I haven't eaten in 73 days." 

8. Don't start with the end in sight. Be open to any conversation about anything. It may turn into a great opportunity OR an incredibly interesting fun fact about their cat, either way, free yourself and the person you're talking to of any expectations or forced commitments.

9. Be yourself, not that other guy...unless that other guy is very sociable, positive, funny, smart, talented, incredibly good looking, and overall so much cooler than you, then yea...sorta, kinda, maybe be a little like that guy.

10. Your closer- "Thank you so much for stopping by my studio. Enjoy the rest of your night." Done.

There are many other helpful do's and don'ts for Tribeca Ball. If you want more specific help based on your work, your studio location, how to feel more comfortable meeting new people, make the night an overall positive experience, what pen looks great on you, dance moves, what hat to wear, and goat sounds to make, I will be available anytime leading up to the event to visit your studio. Holler! See you at the Ball!

To learn more about Nicolas V. Sanchez (MFA 2013, Fellow 2014) please stop into his studio on the second floor at the Academy.

Studio Portraits: Madeleine Hines (MFA 2014)

Madeleine Hines, Class of 2014
Studio: 2nd Floor