Altos de Chavon

How can it be so good, year after year? Asks Stephen Kaplan about the Chavón Senior Thesis

final work chavon students

This post is also available in: Spanish

final work chavon studentsLast Saturday the 18th of May, the graduating class of the Altos de Chavón School of Art and Design, following their graduation ceremony at the Flamboyan Conference Center, went to The Gallery in Altos de Chavón, where their final works were exhibited.

The following is an article written by Stephen Kaplan, the dean of the Altos de Chavón School of Art and Design, in honor of the students’s (now graduate) Senior Thesis.

How can it be so good, year after year? by Stephen Kaplan

A delicately rendered master drawing of a reclining ingénue in baby-doll lingerie, her head resting on a pillow that’s a baby manatee. A huge artwork composed entirely of an intricate mosaic of sea grape leaves trimmed into perfect squares, doused in varnish, and glued to the canvas, so that their veining forms the linear elements of the piece. These are just two highlights of this year’s Fine Arts students’ work at The Altos de Chavón School of Design’s 29th senior thesis exhibition. The show opened on Wednesday evening at the Chavón Gallery and at an ad hoc annex across the plaza, in the former Giacosa restaurant.

The exhibition also includes wall after wall of the Graphic Design students’ impeccable work on typographic posters, and coffee-table books designed and photographed entirely by the students. Pedestals showcase a series of cigar-box designs done for Davidoff, each box celebrating the art of a renowned Dominican painter. The professional quality of the work, the detailed presentation, and the thoughtful and thought-provoking concepts make for a show that speaks to the employability of this group as well as to their adventurous spirit—a perfect marriage of technical skill and creative freedom.

altos de chavon art

The Illustration students’ take on the Little Red Riding Hood story displays fresh and humorous interpretations, while the sketches from their on-site illustration class bristle with energy and life. The students’ originality and personal perspective predominates in these idiosyncratic, erratic, and knowledgeable drawings; they are a joy to see. The sketches come together in a short, witty, and astute video animation of Euro-tourists twitching tepidly to a hot Dominican merengue beat in the plaza.


And Chavón’s large and dedicated Fashion Design class comes through with more clothes and more conceptions of fashionable dressing than we have seen in years. The theme, Future Classic, has given the students the chance to interlace history and futuristic projections in wearable and wise dressing. Menswear is represented along with gala dresses and daytime outfits. Unforgettable is a three-quarter-length dress made of cream-colored seam binding that has been painstakingly hand appliquéd onto a mesh background; the result looks like a leafless forest against a winter sky. There’s also a confection in black lace that seems to be a walking mantilla. The fashion illustrations, the draped manikins in the lobby of Casa de Campo’s Salón Flamboyán, and the parade of garments on the runway all reflect the students’ understanding of proportion and the fall of fabric that they bring to today’s fashion.

altos de chavon art

Sixty students were graduating this year, and they have won more than US$240,000 in scholarships to continue their studies at Parsons. The show was on displayed in Chavón from May 15 to 20 and then moved to The School of Design’s Facility at 50 Calle Gustavo Mejía Ricart, in Santo Domingo, until the fall. It is not to be missed.

We keep asking ourselves how it is possible that year after year, the quality of our students’ work seems to get better and better.

The excellent quality and variety exhibited is a testament to the outstanding talent of the students (who have now graduated), but also to the exceptional teaching and quality of education provided at the Altos de Chavón School of Art and Design. Here pictures of their Senior Thesis exhibited in the gallery in Altos de Chavon: 

Some pictures were taken by Raúl Miyar. Thanks Raúl!!

About the Altos de Chavón School of Art and Design


A component of The Altos de Chavón Cultural Center Foundation, a U.S. 501(c)(3) public charity, the Altos de Chavón School of Art and Design has been graduating students from its two-year associate-degree program, affiliated with New York City’s prestigious Parsons “The New School For Design” since 1983.

Three majors are offered: Graphic Design, Fashion Design, and Fine Arts/Illustration. In addition, The School has developed a state-of-the-art Certificate Program in Digital Design.

Click here for more articles, photos and info about the Altos de Chavón School of Art and Design!

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