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AU artists help to raise funds for NYC charity
5/18/12

Kevin Jacobs, Michele Cohen, John Gill, Kate Roberts setting up for gala

Kevin Jacobs, Michele Cohen, John Gill, Kate Roberts setting up for gala

The Lenox Hill Neighborhood House spring gala annually raises more than $1 million for the charity. This year, Alfred University’s School of Art & Design had a seat at the table, so to speak.

And the success of the first foray this year led to an invitation to participate in the 2013 gala as well.

Kevin Jacobs ’89, a designer as well as an advisor who works with art students in the University’s Career Development Center, received an invitation to be one of 30 designers who create table displays as part of the fund-raiser. Individuals, businesses, corporations and other organizations paid $25,000 for the privilege of dining at the elaborately decorated tables. The tables each accommodated 10 people. This year’s gala was held last month at Cipriani’s in Manhattan.

"I didn’t want to do the display as KJ Designs," said Jacobs. "I wanted to do something that promoted Alfred University and the School of Art & Design."

He enlisted the help of two other alumni who are on the faculty of the School -- John Gill, professor of ceramic art who earned his BFA from Kansas City Art Institute and his MFA from Alfred University, and Angus Powers, associate professor of glass art, who earned his BFA from Alfred, and his MFA from Tyler School of Art at Temple University.

Working with them was Kate Roberts ’10, who received her BFA in ceramic art; Hope Zaccagni, a technician in the School, and Michele Cohen, an Alfred University trustee who lives in New York.

The theme of this year’s gala was "Spring Fever." Powers created a profusion of glass flowers, suspended from aluminum branches that rose from a bed of fresh herbs in a ceramic centerpiece created by Gill. Powers also made glass goblets with bright-colored stems to complement the ceramic baskets Gill made to as napkin holders.

Wooden chargers created by Gill were covered with decoupage images of Alfred, and a tablecloth made from non-slip carpet padding. "It looked like lattice," said Gill. "It was really wonderful."

"It did look like a gorgeous industrial lace," said Powers, who noted that the hand-made elements-the aluminum armature that held the glass flowers, the flowers themselves and the water glasses, the wooden charger plates - are all industrial elements, "the same ingredients that build the cities."

The entire project, from conceptualization to creating the elements to staging at the event in New York City, took just five weeks.

The chance to collaborate with his colleagues and alumni in a new way was an exciting opportunity, said Gill, who was particularly impressed with how well everyone worked together, and trusted each other to create something that worked.

Each guest at the Alfred table got a sampling of the community to take home - a history book on the Alfred area written by Laurie Lounsberry McFadden ‘91, and a box of Honeypot chocolates.

Funding for the Alfred University entry came from the School of Art & Design, and the Center for Career Development.