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Pratt students whose artwork burned in fire present 'Flameproof' at Park Avenue gallery

Students show work before and after a fire.

Daniel Barragan said of his work, "Since the fire my work has matured. Letting things go supports positive growth." Daniel Barragan said of his work, "Since the fire, my work has matured. Letting things go supports positive growth."

One evening three months ago, years of Pratt Institute students’ work went up in flames.

Dozens of the design school’s students lost artwork in an enormous fire that roared through the school’s main building Feb. 15.

Lost in the ashes were 44 seniors’ works. Pieces from before and after the fire will be shown in a Park Avenue exhibit that debuts Thursday.

Their exhibit, Flameproof, shows 100 artworks of drawing and painting students.

The show was assisted by Larry Gagosian, an art dealer who helped secure exhibition space. He was inspired by the student’s need to move forward after experiencing loss from fire himself, he said.

Many donated supplies or gift cards so the students could buy new materials, as well as tickets to the Frieze Art Fair.

Usually, students organize individual shows, but this year, they decided on a special group exhibition.

Brooklynite Milo Wissig, 25, lost all his work from this school year and some from sophomore and junior year. All told, about 20 pieces were destroyed, he said.

On campus, the top of the building he had worked in was destroyed.

“We were told that anything on that side was gone,” he told Metro.

He began again.

Knowing he would have to move the pieces through temporary work spaces, he went from crafting large paintings on canvas to smaller pieces on panels.

He worked as fast as he could in all his waking moments, once doing four paintings in a week and a half, he said.

Ultimately, he quit an internship so he would have the time to replace his body of work.

“It was too much work,” he said.

Student Susan Luss said at first, she was not sure how to move forward.

"I was finally able to focus my energies on collecting materials for future works, even if I did not know what they would be," she said. "That activity was fundamental to helping me make new work."

Pratt’s president, Thomas Schutte, said having the exhibition in a Park Avenue gallery space was “a dream come true for many of our students.”

The exhibition, which is free, will be at 375 Park Avenue Thursday through May 14 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., except May 14, when it closes at 5 p.m.

 
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