DIFFA’s Dining By Design New York

Spring break is the time of year every college student looks forward to. It’s a chance to spend a day exploring a nearby city, going to the beach, hiking, reading a book, or visiting friends or family out of state. However, instead of taking a traditional break, Monica Molinaro, Phuong Huynh, Safa Tutus, and Karen Ruiz – four very dedicated BFA students – decided to stay behind to work on their DIFFA Dining by Design project to raise awareness and funds for those impacted by HIV/AIDS.

Molinaro, Huynh, Tutus, and Ruiz worked countless hours transforming a raw space into an over-the-top dining environment for the annual fundraising event last month. The concept behind the student’s installation was to reshape the viewer’s perception of HIV/AIDS. “It started with the idea of seeing an unfortunate situation from a different perspective,” said Monica Molinaro. “From there it morphed from perspective to perception. With a shift in concept, we wanted to focus the viewer’s attention on this abstract idea of perception and in turn, enforce a change. It was important for us to have a deeply connected meaning to the disease behind our booth. We used the disease’s data and statistics in an interesting way – by using sculptures for visual interest.”

In the student’s research, they found that one in seven Americans living with HIV/AIDS are unaware of the infection. The statistics are transformed into freestanding sculptures. The sculptures amongst the viewers are symbolic of becoming another statistic.

The students were particularly inspired by German artist Regine Schumann’s work, which focuses on light effects caused by fluorescent materials. “Our different styles and opinions also inspired and pushed our installation to what it became.” After observing each other’s best skill-sets, the group distributed assignments based on what each member would excel at. “Working in a creative group can be tricky,” said Monica. It’s important to remain focused and to be open to one another’s views and ideas.”


Phyllis Greer