Meet the Inspiring Animals That Infiltrated a New York City Art School

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A student shows off his work to an interested model. Image courtesy of New York Academy of Art.

A student shows off his work to an interested model. Image courtesy of New York Academy of Art.

A student shows off his work to an interested model. Courtesy of New York Academy of Art.

A model contemplates his likeness, image courtesy New York Academy of Art.

A model contemplates his likeness. Image courtesy New York Academy of Art.

Classwork being nibbled on is an occasional class hazard. Image courtesy of New York Academy of Art.

Classwork being nibbled on is an occasional class hazard. Courtesy of New York Academy of Art.

Nan Xu MFA 2017 paints a lizard. Image courtesy of New York Academy of Art.

Nan Xu MFA 2017 paints a lizard. Image courtesy of New York Academy of Art.

Guno Park, The Nature of Things (2017).

Guno Park, The Nature of Things (2017). Courtesy of New York Academy of Art.

Nicolas V. Sanchez, Excavation (2017). Courtesy of New York Academy of Art.

Nicolas V. Sanchez, Excavation (2017). Courtesy of New York Academy of Art.

Jacob Hayes, Alligator (2017). Courtesy of New York Academy of Art.

Jacob Hayes, Alligator (2017). Courtesy of New York Academy of Art.

Caleb Booth, Navigating the End (2017). Courtesy of New York Academy of Art.

Caleb Booth, Navigating the End (2017). Courtesy of New York Academy of Art.

Jean-Pierre Arboleda, The Abominable One (2017). Courtesy of New York Academy of Art.

Jean-Pierre Arboleda, The Abominable One (2017). Courtesy of New York Academy of Art.

The New York Academy of Art certainly knows how to party, and this year’s edition of their beloved Tribeca Ball on April 3 promises to be wilder than ever thanks to the theme “A Magical Menagerie.” The school’s alumni are getting in on the act, with a one-night only “Animalia” exhibition.

One of the courses offered at the academy is “Man and Beast,” for which different animals are brought into the classroom each week of the semester. The creatures, which can range from reptiles to monkeys to kangaroos, are given free reign in the studio during the sketching session, forcing students to learn to work with a live model who isn’t striking a pose.

To make sure both the animals and the artists are safe, there is an animal handler on hand at all times. The academy works with local farms, animal refuges, and stables to bring this little bit of nature, normally only encountered at farms or zoos, into the school. The more exciting animal guests who have made appearances in the past include baby alligators. Sheep, horses, and ponies were among less exotic visitors.

Artist Allison Hill-Edgar and an angora goat. Courtesy of New York Academy of Art.

Artist Allison Hill-Edgar and an angora goat. Courtesy of New York Academy of Art.

During the ball, guests can see artwork created during the class, as well as other animal-themed paintings from former students, demonstrating mastery of the art of animal anatomy and unusual textures such as fur, scales, and feathers. The students also have to control themselves when faced with the unbelievable cuteness of hedgehogs and rabbits—a surprisingly difficult-to-master skill.

“Working from living animal life wakes one up to the astonishing creativity and brilliance of the universe. Color, form, movement, sound, texture, it’s all there,” professor Wade Schuman told artnet News. “Working in a normal class room space makes the students see that even something as common as a sheep or a goat is remarkable.”

Life Drawing class with a horse, a goat, and two chickens. Courtesy of New York Academy of Art, © Philip Greenberg.

Life Drawing class with a horse, a goat, and two chickens. Courtesy of New York Academy of Art, © Philip Greenberg.

If you want a taste of what this clearly awesome class is like, stop by the Tribeca Ball tonight. You can gorge yourself on hors d’oeuvres and cocktails in the studios, and spend some time with owls and ravens from the Tackapausha Nature Preserve and Animal Rehabilitation Center on Long Island. The organization, which rehabilitates wild birds that have suffered injuries, is bringing some of its feathered friends to the party, where artists will be live-sketching.

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