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School of Visual Arts Honors April Greiman with the Masters Series Award and Exhibition
Guardrail to Sevilla, from Drive-by Shooting: April Greiman Digital Photography, digital photographic print, 2006.

NEW YORK.-PSchool of Visual Arts (SVA) honors April Greiman with the Masters Series Award and exhibition. One of the first American designers to embrace digital technologies, Greiman has explored the intersection of art, design and architecture for more than a quarter century. Born and raised in New York, she now heads the Los Angeles design consultancy Made in Space. “The Masters Series: April Greiman” will be on view through December 13, 2008, at the Visual Arts Museum, 209 East 23rd Street, New York City.

“April Greiman was a bridge between the modern and postmodern, the analog and the digital,” says Steven Heller, design historian and co-chair of the MFA Design Department at SVA. “She is a pivotal proponent of the ‘new typography’ and new wave that defined late twentieth-century graphic design.”

April Greiman’s unique contribution to visual culture is evident in the breadth of her portfolio, with commissions ranging from a US postage stamp commemorating the Nineteenth Amendment (which extended the vote to women) to an LED installation for the 31-story Accenture Tower in Minneapolis. These works will be represented in the exhibition at SVA alongside a selection of groundbreaking posters, identity systems and recent experimental videos and digital photographs. Long interested in the built environment, Greiman has frequently collaborated with architects, among them Frank Gehry and Michael Rotondi of RoTo Architects. For this retrospective, she has sought guidance from the “gravity consultants” at RoTo Architects and B+U, a Los Angeles architecture firm whose work is informed by mapping and transforming imperceptible forces, including sonograms, sounds and magnetism.

Greiman is renowned for her experiments with the Apple Macintosh computer, having acquired one shortly after its release in 1984. At about the same time she began to merge video, a medium she had worked with since the 1970s, with print graphics. Using digitized images that flaunted their electronic origins, she set about unleashing the creative potential of the latest technologies. At the same time, in her unabashedly intuitive approach to layout and composition, Greiman introduced a new subjectivity into contemporary design practice. A foldout poster she created for Design Quarterly in 1986, featuring a life-size nude self-portrait overlaid with various symbols of personal significance, announced the designer’s intention to “think with the heart” and reach her audience emotionally. This was the first of a number of important commissions from Mickey Friedman, then editor of Design Quarterly and a longtime design curator at the Walker Art Center. (Greiman and Friedman later collaborated on “The Gehry Experience,” an exhibition organized for the opening of the Experience Music Project, Seattle.)

Greiman was equally alert to the creative potential of the Internet in its infancy, recognizing it as a new medium that called for a new visual vocabulary. In 1987 she received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to explore Web and state-of-the-art technology like Quantel PaintBox, software used to create video and graphics for television. She started Greimanski Labs as an offshoot of her studio to research the capacity of new technologies for image making in a non-commercial setting. She has created identities and Web sites for institutions like the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) and the MAK Center for Art and Architecture at the Schindler House, the Los Angeles satellite of the Austrian Museum of Applied Art, Vienna.

In her work with architects, Greiman has been much sought-after for her expertise in color, surfaces and materials, whether applied to building interiors, exteriors or campuses. The first major commission of this type was the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts (1993) in Southern California, which included the design of exterior tiles and other architectural elements as well as graphics, an identity system and printed pieces. She has worked closely with RoTo Architects on several projects, including: the Dorland Mountain Arts Colony (1993-1994), a hand-built studio and retreat set on a nature preserve in southern California; the Reges House (1992-1996), a rehab of an existing electrical building in downtown Los Angeles; and Warehouse C (1997), a mixed-use pier that enlivens the skyline of Nagasaki, Japan.

More recently, Greiman has secured a number of high-profile public art commissions that extend her exploration of the “color-surfaces-materials” field and continue to push the boundaries between disciplines. She recently completed an 8,200 square-foot wall mural entitled Hand Holding a Bowl of Rice at Wilshire Vermont Station, a new housing development sited on the Los Angeles Metro line in Koreatown, and is at work on a project for the Burbank airport.

Greiman’s work has been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, the Israel Museum in Jerusalem and the Walker Art Center. Her work was the subject of a traveling exhibition organized by the United States Information Agency in the former Soviet Union, and in 2006 the Pasadena Museum of California Art mounted a one-person exhibition of Greiman’s digital photography, "Drive-by Shooting." She has received the Hallmark Corporation’s Hall Chair Fellowship, the American Institute of Graphic Arts’ Gold Medal and a Chrysler Design Award, among other honors.

In addition to her work as a designer, Greiman has been a singular force in the education of designers and the advancement of the design profession. “Everything is a teaching and learning experience,” she says. She has taught at SCI-Arc, where she has been on the faculty for more than 15 years, California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), where she also served as director of the visual communications program, and the Art Center College of Design. She is the author of several books on design, including Hybrid Imagery: The Fusion of Technology and Graphic Design (Watson-Guptill Publications, 1990) and Something from Nothing (RotoVision, 2001).

In 1988, SVA founder Silas H. Rhodes instituted The Masters Series, an annual award exhibition to honor great visual communicators—designers, illustrators, art directors and photographers—of our time. Though their achievements are lauded by their colleagues, the names of groundbreaking artists often go largely unrecognized by the general public. The Masters Series is intended to bring public exposure to those whose influence has been felt strongly and by many, yet without widespread recognition.

Masters Series laureates are Marshall Arisman, Saul Bass, Ivan Chermayeff, Seymour Chwast, Paul Davis, Lou Dorfsman, Heinz Edelmann, Jules Feiffer, Shigeo Fukuda, Milton Glaser, Steven Heller, George Lois, Mary Ellen Mark, Ed McCabe, Duane Michals, Tony Palladino, Paula Scher, Deborah Sussman, George Tscherny, Paul Rand and Massimo Vignelli.

The Visual Arts Museum, located at 209 East 23rd Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenues, is open 9am to 7pm, Monday through Friday, and 10am to 6pm on Saturday. Admission is free. The museum is accessible by wheelchair. For further information call 212.592.2145.

School of Visual Arts (SVA) in New York City is an established leader and innovator in the education of artists. From its inception in 1947, the faculty has been comprised of professionals working in the arts and art-related fields. SVA provides an environment that nurtures creativity, inventiveness and experimentation, enabling students to develop a strong sense of identity and a clear direction of purpose.

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