ART FORCE 5: SUNY’S SUPER TEAM ANNOUNCED
Alfred, NY – Alfred University has again joined in SUNY’s collaborative spirit, announcing a team of superheroes representing six different SUNY institutions. The team is part of the Art Force 5 program which uses art to help communities address difficult issues while promoting “creativity over conflict.” In 2018, the program received funding from SUNY’s Performance Improvement Fund to foster statewide collaboration around issues of diversity and establish a summer service program.
This newly announced team will spent the summer in New York City, headquartered on Governors Island each Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. On Thursdays, they will engage the Harlem community in paying tribute to the centennial of the Harlem Renaissance. A series of Wednesday collaborations throughout the city are also being planned and will be announced in May.
The team will be led by Professor Hiram Cray, who received both his undergraduate and graduate degrees from Buffalo State College. Representing Alfred University’s New York State College of Ceramics will be Myah Darby of Savannah, GA. From nearby Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), rising junior illustration major Tyler Ryan Scott of Brooklyn brings his talents. SUNY Orange will graduate and send Samantha Baltazar, a criminal justice studies major who will continue her fall studies at CUNY’s John Jay College. Brooklyn’s Sylika Shillingford is a student at SUNY Cobleskill majoring in business administration with a passion for dance.
Rounding out the team is a trio of Digital Media Arts students from SUNY New Paltz, who will develop weekly episodes of the team’s adventures. Giuliana Ponterotto from Manhattan, Luis Lopez from Brooklyn, and Kyle Strandberg from Staten Island will be critical in communicating the program’s educational message to the broader world. Behind the scenes is program founder Dan Napolitano, another SUNY graduate (Alfred University’s School of Art and Design) who founded the program in 2016 and has seen it grow to build partnerships with police departments, Women’s Rights Hall of Fame, NYC ComicCon, and hundreds of other community collaborations. In 2019, the program partnered with NFL Media on a diversity awareness project in Atlanta prior to the Super Bowl which aired nationally on the NFL Network’s NFL360 program.
“I often feel like Nick Fury,” shares Napolitano, referring to the popular Marvel character. “I am honored to serve SUNY in recruiting a team of amazing students to engage in truly heroic work. We might not get the fanfare of The Avengers but we engage in authentic community-building using the legitimate superpower of creativity.”