Congratulations Class of 2017! Stay Connected with SVA Alumni Affairs
A message from Jane Nuzzo, director of Alumni Affairs and Development at SVA
May 9, 2017
by Jane Nuzzo
In the early hours immediately following last fall’s presidential election results (and as South Korea’s own political upheaval was beginning to unfold), I arrived in Seoul with some of my SVA colleagues to attend a big alumni reception. The trip was part of a larger Asia outreach effort, and we had been in China and Japan for several days prior. By this point, I was exhausted by our travels and the emotional turmoil of the election. But there was still much activity ahead: a Korean barbeque, a morning of sightseeing in Seoul, a luncheon, and then, at last, the reception itself—a five-hour evening of festivities. Suffice it to say, as that final event wrapped, I was fried.
In spite of my fatigue, I found myself at an after-hours
karaoke bar with my coworkers and several members of the Korean Alumni
Association, unexpectedly performing my best Axl Rose impression. This is not
my modus operandi. Yet there I was—embracing the new—committed to an evening of
communing over song, delighting in the various performances and selections made
by my cohorts: ABBA, K-pop ballads, Patsy Cline, Gloria Gaynor, George Michael
. . . the list goes on.
I share this anecdote because one of the highlights of serving SVA alumni is actually meeting them. The daily demands of administration can regularly supersede the seemingly simple act of connecting with individuals. Moreover, our alumni community is vast—35,000 strong and growing—so interacting with everyone in person is impossible. We certainly benefit from having a large number of graduates in the tristate area, which makes possible regular opportunities to engage. But because we have alumni all over the U.S. and the world, we also need to make a dedicated effort to travel and meet them, wherever they live.
Henry Miller wrote, “One’s destination is never a place, but always a new way of seeing things.” Something extraordinary happens when we depart New York and alight in another city, another country. Meeting alumni far away from the College’s day-to-day operations imparts a deeply personal, visceral connection. I treasure these experiences and view them as some of the most important work we do, fostering good will, strengthening the alumni community and embracing pluralism as we learn about other cultures and ways of life in the U.S. and abroad: Eating soup dumplings and street-vendor fried tofu with our alumni guide in China. Scrounging for the last hors d’oeuvres at a Miami Art Week reception to feed a late-arriving young alumni couple who are pioneering a sustainable path as artists living in Portland, Oregon. Visiting the office of a proud alumnus in Seoul and finding it chock-full of SVA posters. These moments shape how we see and understand ourselves and our work, SVA’s mission, and our ever-expanding alumni community.
A version of this article appears in the spring 2017 issue of the Visual Arts Journal.