WELL-DESIGNED LINES: Along with their diplomas, Pratt Institute graduates will be getting an earful from design visionary Paola Antonelli at its 128th commencement ceremony.
As the keynote speaker, the Museum of Modern Art’s senior curator of Architecture and Design will have all sorts of sage insights for the outgoing 1,000 students. Antonelli won’t be the only honoree at the May 17 event at Radio City Music Hall. Photographer and visual artist LaToya Ruby Frazier, who is also professor of photography at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, will receive an honorary degree as will television producer Gary Smith, who has racked up more than 20 Emmy awards with business partner Dwight Hemion.
In the meantime, Antonelli will be more than busy with her day job, preparing for “Items: Is Fashion Modern?” at MoMA this fall. Set to take over the midtown museum’s entire sixth floor, the show will explore the relationship between clothing, functionality, culture, aesthetics, politics, labor, economy and technology. Levi’s 501 jeans, the bikini, Prada’s nylon backpack, Hermès Birkin bag and the pashmina shawl are among the 111 items of clothing, accessories and footwear that will be displayed. When the exhibition bows Oct. 1, it is meant to remind visitors of how these objects influenced history and society in the 20th and 21st centuries.
Scheduled to be on view through Jan. 28, the show will present items on three tiers — archetype, stereotype and prototype. Each installation will be presented in the incarnation that made it significant in the last 100 years or so — the stereotype with contextual material tracing back to its historical archetypes. In some cases, when innovation, opportunity or necessity call for it, the item will be paired with a new commission, or prototype. The idea is that, within the exhibition, designers, artists, scientists, engineers and manufacturers will be invited to respond to some of these “indispensable items” with pioneering materials, approaches and design revisions. The takeaway would then be extending the conversation.