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SCAD Lacoste, courtesy of SCAD.
Before renovation, demonstrating SCAD’s legacy in historic preservation in Lacoste; courtesy of SCAD.
After renovation, demonstrating SCAD’s legacy in historic preservation in Lacoste; courtesy of SCAD.
Newly enrolled students participating in university’s Pre-Bee: Tour de Provence; courtesy of SCAD.
Image of La Maison Basse at SCAD Lacoste; courtesy of SCAD.
SCAD Lacoste; courtesy of SCAD.
SCAD students tour town of Lacoste; courtesy of SCAD.
Food Styling Workshop coverage with Jamie Beck at SCAD Lacoste; courtesy of SCAD Lacoste.
Pierre Cardin and SCAD President Paula Wallace; courtesy of SCAD.
A still from Pierre Cardin: Le Futur; courtesy of SCAD.
"L’esprit de SCAD" exhibition of student designs at SCAD Lacoste; courtesy of SCAD.
Lynn Yaeger and Chioma Nnadi speaking with SCAD students in Lacoste; courtesy of SCAD.
An image of summer celebration 2016 and the Grand Puppet Parade in Lacoste; puppets were created by SCAD alumni Sam Lasseter; courtesy of SCAD.
An image of summer celebration 2016 and the Grand Puppet Parade in Lacoste; puppets were created by SCAD alumni Sam Lasseter; courtesy of SCAD.
Holly Rader working in her studio.
Artwork by Holly Rader.
Artwork by Holly Rader.
Artwork by Holly Rader.
Courtesy of Holly Rader.
Alumni Atelier ambassador William Ruller.
Artwork by William Ruller.
Artwork by William Ruller.
Presents
The details of creating in a medieval village.
SCAD students tour town of Lacoste; courtesy of SCAD.

Episode 6

SCAD Lacoste

By Whitewall

August 5, 2020

In the southeast of France, Lacoste shines as an idyllic setting rich in history. Since the 15th century, artists like Claude Monet, Vincent Van Gogh, and Pablo Picasso have ventured to spend halcyon days in the meticulously preserved medieval village. Today, it remains a destination for artists and professionals alike, and thanks to SCAD, welcomes students to live, learn, and create within the beauty of Provence.

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SCAD Lacoste, courtesy of SCAD.

Pastoral and picturesque, SCAD Lacoste provides endless inspiration for creative expression. Student facilities are housed in 30 beautifully restored buildings that range from the ninth to the 19th centuries. Medieval caves and a former village bakery are turned into artist studios, photography labs, and a digitally connected library—all featuring high-end contemporary resources.

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Before renovation, demonstrating SCAD’s legacy in historic preservation in Lacoste; courtesy of SCAD.

Before embarking on this journey, SCAD offers prospective students a Pre-Bee program for newly enrolled students planning to move to Lacoste. The week-long experience prepares them to excel at the university while on an exclusive tour of Provence. Pre-Bees live and learn in residence halls and academic buildings for a jump-start to their experience. Throughout the week, instructors mentor students in workshops and lead trips to historic destinations like Vincent Van Gogh’s rooms at the Saint-Paul asylum and a Roman archaeological site.

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After renovation, demonstrating SCAD’s legacy in historic preservation in Lacoste; courtesy of SCAD.

“SCAD Lacoste offers the unique opportunity for students, alumni, and the community to explore eras of history from roman times, the medieval ages, to the Surrealist Movement of the 20th Century,” said Cédric Maros, Director of SCAD Lacoste. 

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Newly enrolled students participating in university’s Pre-Bee: Tour de Provence; courtesy of SCAD.

“Within a few miles, SCAD students can tour archeological sites, study the architecture of historical monuments or use natural and locally sourced pigments for their creative work. The Luberon valley is also renowned for having a very rich cultural life with many professionals and designers from numerous creative industries deciding to live there.”

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Image of La Maison Basse at SCAD Lacoste; courtesy of SCAD.

La Maison Basse—the centerpiece of SCAD Lacoste and the heart of the Luberon Valley—is one of the university’s most acclaimed buildings. Over the past eight centuries it has been a farmhouse, an inn, and the gambling den of the notorious Marquis de Sade. SCAD has revamped the space, turning its whimsical structure into a revitalized property. And 15 years ago, in commemoration of the historic preservation of La Maison Basse and Lacoste, SCAD President and Founder Paula Wallace was appointed Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques.

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SCAD Lacoste; courtesy of SCAD.

“Our location is located at the very center of the Provence region which provides dynamic opportunities for students and visitors all year. This includes immersive experiences with international acclaimed events such as the Rencontres d’Arles (photography), the Avignon Festival (theater) or the Cannes Film Festival,” said Maros. “These events, natural resources, and history allows for all of the SCAD degree programs to be taught in Lacoste. The program first started with fine arts but has expanded throughout the years with innovative curriculum for interior design, motion media, animation, fibers, and fashion to name a few.”

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SCAD students tour town of Lacoste; courtesy of SCAD.

On an accelerated eight-week calendar, students are assigned coursework geared toward a collaborative and communal learning experience. Varying each year, these courses allow for students to earn credits toward various degree programs, their foundation studies, general education, or elective courses. SCADpro is also present at Lacoste, offering invaluable professional connections throughout Europe.

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Food Styling Workshop coverage with Jamie Beck at SCAD Lacoste; courtesy of SCAD Lacoste.

Field trips to nearby destinations—such as Aix-en-Provence, Marseilles, Nîmes and Pont du Gard, and Saint-Rémy-de-Provence—and workshops taught by visiting distinguished guests prove invaluable. Often teaching courses and mentoring students, visitors in the past have included actor John Malkovich, photographers Jamie Beck and Kevin Burg, contemporary artists Hugo Dalton and Ingrid Calame, fashion journalist Lynn Yaeger, Academy Award-winning screenwriter Geoffrey Fletcher, printmaker Christopher Brown, interior designer Ilse Crawford, and illustrators Nina Weber and Alain le Quernec.

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Pierre Cardin and SCAD President Paula Wallace; courtesy of SCAD.

Legendary designer Pierre Cardin has a beautiful chateau in Lacoste, and regularly mentors and interacts with students at an array of events in the region. Last year, SCAD created the animated short film Pierre Cardin: Le Futur in his honor, showcasing his legacy in fashion and beyond.

“SCAD has been fortunate to count Pierre Cardin, a friend and neighbor for nearly two decades. He’s a polymath whose interests and avocations are married with the disciplines we teach at SCAD—for example he has deep knowledge and appreciation for architecture, interior design, furniture design, industrial design, photography, not to mention fashion and accessory design just to name a few,” said Eleanor Twiford, Assistance Vice President of Creative Direction at SCAD. “Cardin delights in the youth and creative energy SCAD students bring to Lacoste and we have enjoyed the symbiosis of this friend and partnership.”

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A still from Pierre Cardin: Le Futur; courtesy of SCAD.

Seasonally, stunning exhibitions are presented in the university’s historic caves. Since 2002, the location welcomes visitors to shows debuting unique creations students made during their time in France alongside iconic artists from the region. Presented last fall from August 31 to November 16 was “L’Esprit de SCAD,” revealing the glamorous moments leading up its annual fashion show were works imagined to show the magic behind the styling, hair and makeup, photo shoots, and grand finale looks on the runway.

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"L’esprit de SCAD" exhibition of student designs at SCAD Lacoste; courtesy of SCAD.

Graduates looking to continue their relationship with SCAD can enroll in a five-day professional development retreat entitled Après SCAD. Here, alumni, friends, and fellow creatives join renowned guests at SCAD Lacoste to discuss, revive, and renew their creative practice.

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Lynn Yaeger and Chioma Nnadi speaking with SCAD students in Lacoste; courtesy of SCAD.

While dining on gourmet cuisine, and exploring the Provencal cultural attractions, Après SCAD participants engage in professional development workshops, presentations, and conversations with leading industry professionals like Vogue fashion news director Chioma Nnadi, fashion journalist Lynn Yaeger, stylist Sarah Schussheim, producer and writer Elisa Kreisinger, and artists Steven and William Ladd.

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An image of summer celebration 2016 and the Grand Puppet Parade in Lacoste; puppets were created by SCAD alumni Sam Lasseter; courtesy of SCAD.

Strengthening a connection with SCAD beyond time in Lacoste is the unparalleled Alumni Atelier experience, an exceptional opportunity for artisans and creative entrepreneurs to stay connected. Conceived and endowed by President Paula Wallace, it welcomes back a select group of visionaries to return as ambassadors.

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An image of summer celebration 2016 and the Grand Puppet Parade in Lacoste; puppets were created by SCAD alumni Sam Lasseter; courtesy of SCAD.

Equipped with resources to advance their careers, the experience also allows the artists and scholars the opportunity to embark on new creative ventures, realize current ones, and serve as mentors to current students. Alumni Atelier ambassadorships in Atlanta, Savannah, or Lacoste have resulted in brands and new works in the jewelry, accessories, interior design, fine art, and literary fields.

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Holly Rader working in her studio.

One SCAD Alumni Atelier ambassador is graduate Holly Rader, who graduated with an M.F.A. in painting in 2004. For Rader, the program also went beyond the personal and professional facets of life, connecting her emotionally to the university and its strong network.

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Artwork by Holly Rader.

“SCAD gave me confidence when I was a student,” she said. “President Wallace reached out to me after seeing my work in a Savannah cafe and asked me to be a part of their upcoming exhibition in Paris. I was in my second year as a graduate painting student. I was painting lingerie on canvas and I suppose she could see it going over well with the French. That experience alone gave me all the magic dust I needed for the rest of my life. I knew after that night at the Mona Bismarck Gallery I made no mistake in my decision to be an artist and to be a student at SCAD. President Paula Wallace has become one of my best mentors and someone I look up to as a leader and woman of empowerment.”

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Artwork by Holly Rader.

In the summer of 2018, she returned to Lacoste for the third time with the Atelier. “The first two visits were as a student when the abroad learning program first began. I was one of the very first students to attend,” continued Rader. “I was a painting graduate trying to find my voice as an artist. My experience in Provence—the romantics, nature, French culture and fashion really changed my work and made it what it is today. Lacoste is very dear to my heart. SCAD has always given me amazing opportunities as a student and now as a professional working artist. I love that they stay connected and engaged even 15 years since my graduate studies.”

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Artwork by Holly Rader.

Today, Rader is a full-time artist, a wife, and a mother of two sons, represented by galleries and designers in the New York City area. She welcomes women into her studio for inspiration, and interacts with her audience online by offering limited-edition prints and merchandise on her website. Rader is also invested in new ways of engaging with her community—especially now.

Recently during the COVID-19 outbreak, she began selling collage kits based on her work. As a way of keeping busy and engaged with clients, friends, and family from afar, Rader created collage kits for kids and adults to stay creative and busy in isolation. “They’ve been very therapeutic for me to put together for my clients. Each one is unique, and I hand select the papers, embellishments, glitter, and more for each kit. It’s like a mixtape for each individual order,” she said.

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Courtesy of Holly Rader.

More recently, she’s been hosting socially distanced backyard collage workshop for teenagers. Her latest for a group of girls in Montclair, NJ was a part of an ICAP radio documentary about girls, body image, self-love, and love of diversity in skin color. “I’m excited to work with kids again, especially young girls,” she said. “It’s been a rough time for them during these days of a health crisis, disconnect from school, and social unrest.”

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Alumni Atelier ambassador William Ruller.

Another is William Ruller, who graduated in 2014 with an M.F.A in painting. “My experience during the Alumni Atelier program completely changed my life. Working and living with a historian, potter, printmaker, and fashion designer created an environment where each of us became a sounding board for the other, continuously visiting one another’s studios throughout the day,” said Ruller.

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Artwork by William Ruller.

“My main focus while there was to create work that was a contemporary reinterpretation of the landscape of the Luberon Valley. Looking at the ancient structures and landscapes through the eyes of someone coming from a dilapidated industrial landscape. I still am focused on this particular concept and have continued it to the present day,” he continued.

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Artwork by William Ruller.

For Ruller, his connection to SCAD Lacoste bridges the gap between personal and professional, as his life was substantially shaped by his time there. “I now live and work here with my wife and son—after meeting my wife, Elise Hamon-Ruller, who is the SCAD Art Sales and shopSCAD manager here in Lacoste,” he said. “To be able to create in an area with the depth of art history—that reaches back to the cave paintings of Lascaux, and has continued through Cezanne, Van Gogh, Picasso, to contemporary artists such as Anselm Keifer—is a gift that I received from being able to participate in the SCAD Alumni Atelier program.”

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