Artist-Alum Andrew Bordwin Speaks on Campus

Andrew Bordwin '82

New York artist Andrew Bordwin ’82 returned to campus on December 9 to speak at all-school assembly and guest-teach an intermediate photography course. An acclaimed multimedia artist, in-demand commercial photographer and part-time college teacher, Andrew credited former Beaver photography teacher Doug “Major” Cohen with kindling his interest in visual art.

After earning an BFA at NYU, Andrew set out to explore some of Manhattan’s “hidden spaces,” shooting as an “urban archaeologist, documenting evidence of what everyday life was like in another era.” In assembly he showed a haunting series of images from the late 1980s that he took in the abandoned and derelict Cloud Club atop the Chrysler Building, once a glitzy watering hole for the city’s elite. He also showed a series of architectural details from some of the city’s richly embellished Art Deco landmarks that Cunard Lines commissioned to decorate staterooms on the Queen Mary II.

Andrew’s keen eye for detail and texture and his deft touch with light helped him build a successful career as a commercial photographer, shooting editorial spreads for high-end shelter magazines like House & Garden and Martha Stewart Living and clients like Tiffany and Gucci.

In 1998 he began a multimedia collaboration with video artist Adam Ames. Working in a variety of two- and three-dimensional media under the moniker “Type A,” Andrew and Adam probe the psychological tension and dark humor in male bonding and competition. The subject of a 2010 monograph edited by Lisa D. Freiman, a curator at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, Type A recently installed a permanent work, Team Building (Align), at the IMA’s 100 Acres Sculpture and Nature Park. Type A’s Barrier sculpture (comprised of custom-cast Jersey barriers) and Insertions photo series, works that critique post-9/11 security theater, are at the DeCordova Museum in Lincoln (MA) until mid-January.

Andrew, who teaches at Parsons the New School of Design, discussed his career and creative and collaborative processes with students in Meriah Burman’s photo class following his assembly presentation. He recalled that when he was at Beaver he wanted to enter Kodak’s student contest and couldn’t decide whether to submit a traditional black and white composition or a self-portrait he made by xeroxing his face multiple times. Mr. Cohen nudged him to take a chance by submitting the xerox image, and he ended up winning the contest. With the benefit of three decades hindsight, he urged the class to take their own creative risks: “You should never limit yourselves in your imagination. There are an infinite number of possibilities you can give shape to.”

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