Current VPA News

“Let’s Be Dragons,” the master of fine arts (M.F.A.) exhibition of the College of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA), will open in five different venues in Syracuse and New York City in April.

The exhibition features work by 29 M.F.A. candidates from VPA’s School of Art, School of Design and Department of Transmedia. In Syracuse, the exhibition is divided among four of the University’s exhibition spaces: Point of Contact Gallery, SUArt Galleries, Community Folk Art Center and 914Works. “Let’s Be Dragons” functions as the overarching show title, while each venue has its own individual chapter title intended to unify the work exhibited at each location.

The exhibition’s guest curator is DJ Hellerman, curator of art and programs at the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse.

"It has been a privilege to work with such a committed group of artists,” says Hellerman. “As they leave the M.F.A. program, I have high expectations for their contributions to the world. We all need engaged artists making challenging work, especially now."

The exhibition schedule is as follows. All events are free and open to the public.

Let’s Be Dragons: Serpents Inside
Point of Contact Gallery, the Nancy Cantor Warehouse, 350 West Fayette St.
April 4-May 14
Reception: April 7, 6-8 p.m.
Hours: Tues.-Sat., noon-5 p.m. or by appointment.
Contact: 315-443-2169 or

“Let’s Be Dragons: Serpents Inside” features the artwork of Zhongwen (Lisa) Hu, Courtney Asztalos, Evan Deuitch, Todd Lauther, Ssu Ya Hsiung and Chelsea Jones. Through their presentations, a variety of themes and media including painting, photography and site-specific installations will be explored.

Let’s Be Dragons: Wild Seeds
Syracuse University Art Galleries, Shaffer Art Building
April 6-May 14
Reception: April 13, 5-7 p.m.
Hours: Tues.-Sun., 11 a.m.-4:30 p.m.; Thurs. until 8 p.m.; closed Mon.
Contact: 315-443-4097 or

“Let’s Be Dragons: Wild Seeds” features the artwork of Chris Zacher, Chunlin Yang, Gang Chen, Loren Bartnicke, Munjal Yagnik, Owen Drysdale, Peter Smith, Rachel Fein-Smolinski and Shiwen Su. Through their presentations, a variety of themes and media including painting, photography, ceramics, video art, illustration and site-specific installations will be explored.

Let’s Be Dragons: Strangers in a Strange Land
Community Folk Art Center, 805 East Genesee St.
April 11-May 14
Reception: April 14, 6-8 p.m.
Hours: Mon.-Fri, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sat., 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
Contact: Jaime Ransome,

“Let’s Be Dragons: Strangers in a Strange Land” will be an experiment in diverse environments. Each artist will create immersive artworks through different mediums that include prints, sculpture and film. Artists exhibiting are Justin Hill, Maria Spiess, Landon Perkins, Taro Takizawa, Adam Devkota, Ioana Turcan and Dontato Rossi.

Let’s Be Dragons: Hardwired to Connect
914Works, 914 East Genesee St.
April 14-May 14
Reception: April 14, 6-8 p.m.
Hours: Tues.-Sat., 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

“Let’s Be Dragons: Hardwired to Connect” will feature product design projects by collaborative design students. Designers exhibiting are Asal Andarzipour, Shaojia Chen, Ran Jing, Ke Huang, Wei Yuying, Donna Greene and Kathryn Detwiler.

Let’s Be Dragons
ArtHelix, 289 Meserole St., Brooklyn
April 21-22
Reception: Friday, April 21, 6-9 p.m.
Hours: Fri., 6-9 p.m.; Sat., noon-6 p.m.
Contact: Joanna Spitzner, Organized with SHIM,

The New York City exhibition of “Let’s Be Dragons” will feature work by M.F.A. candidates from the School of Art and Department of Transmedia.

About the curator

A native of Ohio, DJ Hellerman began curating and educating people about art while helping Progressive Insurance build a collection of contemporary art designed to encourage innovation and change. He received an M.A. in art history from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland and a B.A. in English and philosophy from Lake Erie College in Painesville, Ohio. He loves live music and literature as much as he enjoys visual art.

A few of Hellerman’s recent curatorial productions include solo exhibitions “T.R. Ericsson: Crackle & Drag”; “Björn Schülke: Traveling Spy”; and “Mildred Beltré: DreamWork.” Recent theme-based group exhibitions include “Of Land & Local,” an annual place-based exhibition about art and the environment, and “Taking Pictures,” an exhibition exploring how artists associated with the Pictures Generation anticipated and recently turned their critical attention to digital networks used in the dissemination and consumption of images.