USF offers a variety of degrees: anthropology, biology, mass communications, physics, education, and even graphic design. Yes, USF offers a major in graphic design – but only at the St. Petersburg campus.
This spring, the fourth group of students will be graduating from USF’s program in graphic design. In order to demonstrate the skills they learned, the graduating class is hosting Paper Scissors Rock – the third annual exhibition of work by the senior class.
Although people probably expect graphic designers to be focused on software and hardware, the show pleasantly surprises viewers with pieces ranging from installation and sculpture to the expected animation and motion graphics.
Upon entering the gallery, one first encounters the installation “a, b, c, d” by Kyle Krukar. The piece consists of three vintage school desks – in which the desk is bolted to the chair. Above the desks hang four framed photographs. Each is a close-up shot of an individual’s hands, labeled “a,” “b,” “c,” and “d,” respectively.
The subjects are a 4-year-old girl, an older gentleman, a teacher and a homeless person. Hanging from each picture is a handwriting analysis card that reads, “Does
your handwriting reflect you? Many people have a story to tell about their handwriting and how it has evolved. What is your story?” Several lines provided beneath the questions on each card record the subjects’ handwriting stories.
For instance, the 4-year-old writes, “My name is Grace. I am just learning how to write.” The writing is large and uneven – childlike. The other cards feature handwriting that ranges from nearly perfect in form and content (that of the teacher) to a messy and misspelled explanation of a lack of education (the homeless person).
In order to collect more stories, Krukar provides stacks of handwriting analysis cards for viewers to fill out and then attach with magnets to the disassembled refrigerator and freezer doors hanging from the adjoining wall. The piece reflects Krukar’s interest in the diverse stories of individuals and has evolved into somewhat of a research project. However, the piece would be much more interesting if it included actual handwriting analysis – the pseudoscience that believes that the points and loops within one’s handwriting reflect everything from intellect to mental instability – instead of just the personal stories of the writers.
Interest in the viewer is also found in “Keepsake,” an installation by Nicole Marinake. The piece consists of heirlooms the artist has inherited from family members, such as photographs, crocheted pieces and a hope chest. The photographs reflect three generations of Marinake’s family, ranging from her great-grandparents to her mother and father. The pictures are contained in traditional frames and hung on a wall covered in contact paper that resembles the wallpaper seemingly found in the homes of grandparents everywhere. The goal of the artist was to create the effect of a modest home, which was done with exceptional detail.
The photographs hang above an open cedar chest, which contains a seat covered with a crocheted fabric handmade by Marinake’s grandmother, on top of which sits a small vintage television playing home movies of Marinake’s family. However, the highlight of the piece is the small suitcase containing keys the artist has collected over the years. They range from antique skeleton keys to more modern designs. Attached to each key is a tag that reads “keepsake” on one side and contains a number ranging from one to 500 and the Web site address, www.jeniveda.com on the other side.
After choosing a key, each viewer is asked to visit the Web site and register the key. Marinake has built a database on the site to track the location of each key – a concept similar to the childhood game, Flat Stanley, in which a paper doll (Stanley) is mailed to friends across the globe and each destination point is marked on a map. Marinake hopes to use the information from the database to create an art piece documenting the condition of each key, as well as whether the tag remained with the key and whether the key was passed on or remained with the original viewer.
The pieces by Krukar and Marinake are not what one expects when thinking of graphic design. However, both artists employed computer programs – specifically Photoshop – to create their pieces.
“Our program (Program of Graphic Design) differs from a lot of programs because it has a fine-art base,” Marinake said. “I think that’s one of the great aspects of this program, because there’s such a debate right now between art and design and (questions such as) ‘Where do the two meet?’ and ‘Is design art?’ and ‘Is art design?’ One of the main points of the show is to try to blur those lines and make people wonder if this is an art show or a design show.”
However, Paper Scissors Rock features more expected mediums, such as animation, as well. Other standout pieces from the show include Christopher Dennis’ “Graphic Design Dictionary” and Greg Francis’ “Betty and Bill.”
The exhibition runs until May 8 at Salt Creek Artworks Gallery at 1600 4th Street South, St. Petersburg.