Bethany Bonfiglio - Artwork Caption
Artwork by Featured Artist Bethany Bonfiglio

A confession: though I have the deepest admiration for those super-fit souls who test their bodies in the New York Marathon every season, I will never put myself to the torture, since I know to a certainty that I do not possess such prodigies of physical endurance—not to mention the lung power necessary—to broach even a mile. Don’t take pity on me: as Joe Pesci’s sorrowful capo says in Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman, “It’s what it is.”

That’s not to say that I found it easy to endure these last twelve months, which have been rough: the drama of presidential impeachment, presidential stupidity on an unprecedented level, Republican swagger and obstinacy and wrongheadedness, looming environmental catastrophes, economic inequality, shocking racism, and just this month a poor defenseless banana kidnapped and held for ransom at Art Basel, Miami (though I’d heard that a dashing rebel artist raided the Miami Beach Convention Center and liberated the banana for the sake of all bananakind, storing it safely in his tummy before bounding back out into the streets a definitive hero)—how we all survived is beyond my capacity to understand. But we did, and here we are!

There’s no point in sinking into a torpor, is there? If we find a new mole on our bodies one sunny morning we have to try and look at it as a freckle with ambition and not immediately revert to a personal apocalypse of medical-disaster scenarios (though, of course, you should get that thing checked out). Why succumb to darkness when there is so much blinding light?

Aren’t you happy to be here? I know I am!  If you’re at all connected with SVA there’s a reason to rise out of bed every day, faster than minute rice. Just stepping outside your dorms and apartments and walking a few blocks and clicking into the city surreal that is New York makes you want to pick up a brush thick with oils, adjust the light and focus your lens, set the Blackmagic Mini Pro on the tripod and direct your actors, rip open the package of fresh Faber-Castell pencils, power up the MacBook Pro and jiggle the ergonomic mouse and drift in the Adobe Cloud . . . there’s so much to create! And not much time to waste! Can you feel the energy coursing through your fingertips?

But nothing can be achieved without the hot lash of inspiration goading you forward, so if that’s what you are looking for, then you’ve come to the right place.

You can begin by reading “On Tolerance” by Camillo Mac Bica, a lovely meditation on the joys of New York immigrant life, as hearty as freshly baked semolina bread; and while you’re still visiting this mini-recreation of New York, you might as well take a trip on over to the Metropolitan Museum, where Chris Mourtos discovers a marvelous clock, which generates a philosophical reverie.

In “An Extraordinary Student” a tutor is astounded by the inspiring approach to life of an elderly student of considerable talent, who is a font of wisdom and a furnace-house of experience. Katherine Song reviews the show Good Omens, based on the novel by Terry Pratchett and the inimitable Neil Gaiman. “How Can There Be Such a Thing?” is a penetrating look into the Me-Too movement in China and abroad, and questions the oppression often perpetrated by superpowers.

“Quietly Perfect” is a gentle examination of the relationship between two young artists, and Fern O’Shea deploys poetic language to underscore an unspeakable tragedy in the abstractly titled “Even the Sunshine Melted.” “Please Don’t Leave” is an action-hero futuristic fantasy, while Brian Carter’s brief story is a howler that will sink its fangs into your spine.

There’s also poetry galore, such as Amy Young’s experimental eclecticism and Lillian DeLecuona’s charmingly alliterative moonlit serenade to sweet summer nights. “Green Memory” provides memorable details of a love gone astray, while “A Midsummer Day’s Dream” explores a love that glides as easily as feathering footsteps over a cloud-carpeted stairway.

We are also proud to present the supremely talented Bethany Bonfiglio, whose paintings will keep you in thrall. And, if you want a good laugh, check out these hilariously drawn cartoons by Leo Levine.

So stay awhile, take off your hat and coat, kick off your shoes and settle into the couch. Comfy yet? Good. I’m glad you’re here to hang out with us. I can promise you two things: I will never use the word “architect” as a verb; and the writing and art in this issue glows as hot as the firewheel of the setting sun. Have a beautiful and earth-shatteringly creative 2020!

Thanks must go to Dr. Maryhelen Hendricks, Chair of Writing and Literacy at SVA; Dr. Kyoko Miyabe, Acting Chair of the Humanities and Sciences Department; Laurie Johenning and Susan Kim; the multi-talented, hard-working, hands-down best designer and artist on this still-blue planet, Colin Goldberg; and all the instructors, administrators, and students who together make SVA the best university in the planet bar none.