The Year Of The Ox To Be Celebrated With Stamp Designed By FIT Professor

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Second of Twelve Chinese Lunar New Year Stamps, All Designed by Kam Mak, to be Unveiled at FIT on January 8.

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It's a great opportunity to showcase my culture, and a great responsibility. These stamps are sent not just throughout the country, but all over the world.

In these times of economic uncertainty, you will soon be able to buy a magnificent work of art for only 42 cents. A stamp honoring the Chinese Lunar New Year designed by artist Kam Mak, an associate professor in the Illustration Department at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), will be unveiled by the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) on Thursday, January 8, at 11 am at an event in FIT's Katie Murphy Amphitheatre, Fred P. Pomerantz Art and Design Center (D Building), Seventh Avenue at 27th Street. The event is open to the public.

This is the second in a series of 12 Lunar New Year stamps created by Mak. The stamps will be issued annually through 2019. Mak was recently honored with the Asian American Dynamic Achiever Award from the Organization of Chinese Americans, Westchester and Hudson Valley Chapter, for his work in designing the series for the USPS.

The Lunar New Year project began in 2005, when USPS art director Ethel Kessler, impressed with Mak's "exquisite" work in a Society of Illustrators' exhibition, offered him the commission. "Personally, this is my most significant assignment," says Mak, who was born in Hong Kong and raised in New York City's Chinatown. "It's a great opportunity to showcase my culture, and a great responsibility. These stamps are sent not just throughout the country, but all over the world."

Each stamp in the series portrays one of the holiday's traditional objects or rituals. "Many of the objects are important symbols rooted in my Chinese cultural tradition," Mak says. "Growing up in New York's Chinatown, the Lunar New Year was the holiday that reminded me most of the home I left behind in Hong Kong. My mother would prepare traditional New Year's foods and decorate our apartment with flowers and red paper inscribed with lucky words. I want these stamps to reveal the beautiful richness of my culture."

Mak worked with Ethel Kessler to commemorate The Year of the Ox, celebrated from January 26, 2009, to February 13, 2010. They chose the design of a lion's head, since dancers often wear such heads, made of papier-mache and bamboo, to perform at New Year's festivities.

The design also incorporates elements from the previous series of Lunar New Year stamps, using an intricate paper-cut design of an ox and the Chinese character for ox, drawn in grass-style calligraphy. The illustration was originally created using oil paint on a fiberboard panel.

Mak's paintings and book illustrations were featured in 2002 at the Brooklyn Public Library in a one-person exhibition, The Real and the Fantastic, as well as at The Society of Illustrators' Annual Exhibition and at The Original Art Show, dedicated to the best of children's picture books. His most recent book, My Chinatown: One Year In Poems, received a starred review from Kirkus Reviews and was the 2002 Recommended Award Winner of the Parents' Choice Foundation. The book also won a silver medal for cover art from The Society of Illustrators in 2003. Mak's cover art for the book The Kite Rider received a gold medal from The Society of Illustrators that same year. The Dragon Prince: A Chinese Beauty & The Beast Tale, illustrated by Mak, won the Oppenheim Platinum Medal and the National Parenting Publication Gold Medal for the best children's picture book of 1997. The members of The Society of Illustrators honored Mak in 2003 with its Stevan Dohanos Award, given for artistic excellence.

Mak has taught at FIT since 1993. Presently, he is working on a series of paintings inspired by images in Chinatown. He lives in Brooklyn with his family.

FIT offers two- and four-year programs in Illustration, enabling students to earn Associate of Applied Science and Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees. FIT also offers a Master of Arts in Illustration, one of the few such programs in the country. Graduates work in such fields as publishing, design, television, animation, fashion, advertising, and recording.

The Fashion Institute of Technology is a selective college of art and design, business and technology of the State University of New York, with 44 majors leading to the AAS, BFA, BS, MA, and MPS degrees. Visit http://www.fitnyc.edu.

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