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About Last Night: SVA's Fashion Photo Grads Take Over Milk Gallery

After a year of blood, sweat, and fashionably placed tears, the finest photographers from the School of Visual Art’s MPS Fashion Photography Class of 2015 finally saw their hard work pay off, at the opening to their exhibition right here at the Milk Gallery. As the wine was poured and people flowed into the gallery, the graduates hugged, cheered, and struck celebratory poses in front of their respective walls. Curated by Art + Commerce co-founder and managing director Jimmy Moffat, the exhibition was a low-key celebratory affair after a year-long intensive that challenged as much as it rewarded their art. I caught up with some of them as I weaved through the crowd of club kids, Instagram stars, and art fiends who had come out to support the photographers.

For Tory Rust, whose collection is fittingly called “I Take Pictures So I Don’t Have to Deal with Words,” the thought of any kind of interview was slightly alarming. Once I assured her that the coverage would be short, she dished on the inspiration behind her vibrant collection of work. “I really love color and I think it came from my childhood,” she explained. “I would wear a lot of mismatched clothes and used to paint my bedroom a new color every year.”

If childhood vibes inspired Rust’s collection of work, it was the subjects themselves that guided Sarah Murray’s wild portraits—including one of a 72-year-old British badass wearing her best bomber jacket. She explained that casting was the big draw for her when composing a shot. “I always look for someone who inspires me in a way that I can create a scene around them based on their character.”

Amidst all of the stories about their favorite subjects and what drew them to fashion photography, there was unanimous praise for the lessons they’d learned in the MPS program. Jae Eun Seok revealed that she was inspired by all of her classmates. “We all help each other because fashion photography isn’t working by myself,” she explained. “It’s a collaboration.” Murray gave a shoutout to the solid team they’d built, and revealed that the reason she went into the program was because it was the only one in the country and, hailing from Ohio, being able to work in New York was a huge draw. That was also the deciding factor for Rendy Mahardhika when I asked him about the program as well. His favorite part so far, though? “The exhibition and free booze!” As the night wound on, we found the illusive Jimmy Moffat enjoying a quiet moment in the back of the gallery and asked how he was enjoying the show he’d been putting together over the past few days.

“Love it,” he exclaimed before darting away into the packed crowd.

The SVA MPS Fashion Photography 2015 Graduate Exhibition will run from January 21 – 31 at Milk Gallery, 450 West 15th Street.

Stay tuned to Milk for more fashion photography.

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