Thursday, December 30, 2010

The shape of words

A sign representing the Parisian public transportation system Metro was found on the left bank not far from the Seine and Notre Dame Cathedral. The ironwork also functions as a window barrier grate. Photograph by versluis © 2010.

This sign interestingly juxtaposes colors like the traditional Metro “art nouveau” green color and road sign red. Also, the futuristic typographic style contrasts nicely with the decorative linear patterns. As Bruno Munari wrote in Design as Art, 1971: “The lines (straight or curved, upright or at an angle) and the blank spaces between one letter and the next all contribute to giving the word its overall shape.” 65.

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

AIGA, The Federal Design Response Show, 1977

The American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) Federal Design Response design competition, traveling show and exhibition catalog. This project was supported by the NEA, in conjunction with the Federal Design Council. 1977.
Cover design (7 inches x 10 inches)
Graphic Designer: Bob Salpeter, Lopez Salpeter, Inc.
(From the collection of David Versluis)

Pages 11 and 12
Agency: National Zoological Park
Art Director: Robert E. Mulcahy
Graphic Designers: Bill Cannon, Robert E. Mulcahy, Lance Wyman

A Statement from the Judges:

In judging the second Federal Design Response show, we were impressed and encouraged by the noticeable improvement in the quality of the material. We found not only a higher level of excellence in 64 pieces included in this year's show, but also fewer marginal items overall.

We regret the decision not to include architecture, films and slides but the number of entries in these area was not sufficient, relative to the amount of work we know was commissioned, as to allow for a valid judging.

In addition, we feel that certain areas of work done for the Federal government need to be examined under a somewhat different viewpoint. The vast majority of the printed output is straight typographical reports, speeches and legislation and has the most room for improvement. While a giant step forward in this area may still not bring the result up to par with other material, we welcome the successes seen to date and have chosen to honor them as a significant move in the right direction.

Saul Bass
Bill Lacy
Paul Rand

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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Quotations on creativity — Jacob Bronowski

Jacob Bronowski and Daughter, 1961. Photograph credit: Sandra Lousada.
Lousada, Sandra. Public Faces Private Places — Portraits of Artists 1956–2008. London: Frances Lincoln Limited, 2009. 120. Print. Web. 18 Dec. 2010. The PhotoBook. Doug Stockdale, October 19, 2009.

“The discoveries of science, the works of art are explorations — more, are explosions, of a hidden likeness. The discoverer or the artist presents in them two aspects of nature and fuses them into one. This is the act of creation, in which an original thought is born, and it is the same act in original science and original art.”

Bronowski, Jacob. Science and Human Values. New York: Harper & Row, 1956. 19. Print.

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Quotations on creativity — Henry Miller

Henry Miller in Hydra, 1939. Photo by George Seferis.
Reference for this picture is found

Reflections on Writing:

“I haven’t the slightest idea what my future books will be like, even the one immediately to follow. My charts and plans are the slenderest sort of guides: I scrap them at will. I invent, distort, deform, lie, inflate, exaggerate, confound and confuse as the mood seizes me. I obey only my own instincts and intuitions. I know nothing in advance. Often I put down things which I do not understand myself, secure in the knowledge that later they will become clear and meaningful to me. I have faith in the man who is writing who is myself, the writer.…”

Miller, Henry. Henry Miller on Writing. Ed. Thomas H. Moore. New York: New Directions Publishing Corporation, 1964. 108-09. Print.

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Friday, December 10, 2010

teaching students about linguistic and visual patterns

The literacy and visual examples shown in this blog piece all rely on patterns and spatial relationships for impact. Professor Roy R. Behrens, in his essay “How Form Functions,” has said, “literary uses of repetition and variation (similarity and dissimilarity) provide us with interesting parallels to the use of unit-forming factors in the visual arts.” Unit-forming factors (good Gestalt) which includes: similarity, proximity, continuity, and closure are things we've studied in class that give students a vocabulary to discuss how their work works.

The Herman Miller Furniture Company
Summer Picnic Poster [1970]
Sweet Corn Festival
Stephen Frykholm (American, born 1942) and Philip Mitchell
Silkscreen with lacquer finish, 39 1/4 x 25" (99.7 x 63.5 cm).

This is the first poster in the long running series… apparently Steve printed the first posters in his basement. Image from MoMA. At Dordt, one of the exhibitions we’re planning for next year will be a show of the first twenty Herman Miller Summer Picnic Posters designed by Steve Frykholm.

Listen! Listen!
A children’s book by Ann Rand and illustrated by Paul Rand
Copyright ©1970 Harcourt, Brace & World Book illustrated is from the Dordt College Library’s Teacher Resource Center

Text: Rrrroooaaarrrrr! 12–13.

Text: Listen…

It’s not too polite a thing,
But if you’ll bring
Your ear up close,
You can hear the breakfast noise
I like most.
It’s the crunch crunch
Of buttered toast.

Interestingly, Behrens on occasion mentions Alfred North Whitehead who wrote in Principles of Natural Knowledge, “The essence of rhythm is the fusion of sameness and novelty; so the whole never loses the essential unity of the pattern, while the parts exhibit the contrast arising from the novelty of their detail.”

Particularly for art and design students, recognizing patterns is a key to discernment in visual thinking. Whether the patterns are imagined and developed by human beings or are found in the world created by God, perceiving the patterns changes our vision and we begin to see the world in a new way — as wonderful correlations.

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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Dordt/Northwestern juried student art exhibit: a very friendly rivalry

Poster designed by Ellie Dykstra, Dordt College

The annual Dordt/Northwestern Student Art Exhibit will be hosted by Dordt College this year, in the Campus Center Art Gallery from Dec. 8 through Jan. 9. This student-selected and juried exhibit features current work by art students from both colleges in a wide variety of media and styles.

The public opening reception for the show will be Wednesday, Dec. 8, from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Dordt College Campus Center Art Gallery in Sioux Center.

Student jurors will discuss their selections and compare works from both institutions in a dialogue and exchange about what constitutes “good art.”

“The Dordt/Northwestern show is one of the best student shows of the year because of the variety and because it is open to any student from both colleges,” said Rachel Minto, a Dordt senior majoring in philosophy and art with an emphasis in fine art studio. Rachel is one of the jurors. “The entries from Northwestern students had different strengths than those of Dordt students, and they complement each other nicely.”

The joint exhibit by Dordt and Northwestern art students has been an annual tradition since 1999, when Susan Van Geest, a Northwestern graduate and at that time an art professor at Dordt, initiated the shared showcase of student work. The colleges alternate hosting the exhibit, with Dordt students selecting the Northwestern art that will be shown, and Northwestern students selecting the Dordt art that will be shown.

This student selection process produces an exhibit of 40 to 50 pieces and always yields a wide variety of images, styles, mediums, and surprises. Works expected for this exhibit include painting, drawings, mixed media, printmaking, photography, sculpture, and ceramic works of all kinds.

Article taken from the the Dordt College News.

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Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Dutch newspaper “Trouw”: René Clement

3 December 2010: Dutch newspaper Trouw had a spread featuring pictures and an interview with Dutch documentary photojournalist René Clement. René, who’s based in New York City, is working on a book publication of his Orange City, Iowa photographs (see an earlier shout-out on this blog). Last month The Des Moines Register also highlighted Rene’s work in an article titled “Dutch photographer turns lens on Orange City.”

This week we received word from the Netherlands Consulate General in New York that they awarded Dordt College a grant of $3,700 to help fund the publication of Rene’s book and a print exhibition of his work this summer in the Dordt College Campus Center Art Gallery.

The clean look and feel of Dutch newspaper layout and graphic design seems ingrained in Holland’s culture. Notice the photograph of Sinterklaus on horseback, which is a reminder that we’re quickly approaching Saint Nicholas’ Eve (5 December). A traditional gift to those who have been "good kids” the past year is a chocolate letter (very appropriate for lovers of typography).

A chocolate letter “S” with packaging by Droste.

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