Monday, October 31, 2011

The “Charis: Boundary Crossings” Exhibition at Dordt College

A photograph of the Charis Exhibition installation at Dordt College. Photograph by versluis © 2011.

The following article (used with permission) is by Adam McDonald editor for the Dordt Diamond, the student newspaper:

The newest addition to the Dordt College Art Gallery “Charis: Boundary Crossings — Neighbors, Strangers, Family, Friends” is a series comprised of various works between seven North American and seven Asian artists. “The gist of this was to form collaborations between American artists and those in Asia,” said Art Professor David Versluis. “They met in Indonesia for two weeks exploring art and Christianity on a global level.”

Charis is a Greek word that means “grace” but more literally, “good will”. The term has been used by many Asian Christian artists as they find themselves in pluralistic societies. The challenges of cross-cultural communication, the need for people of faith to address real world issues, social justice, peace and reconciliation, not to mention the effects of globalization make this a complex contemporary exhibition.

Paintings, sculpture, fiber constructions, installation and video projections are all a part of the medium of the show and shows a strong diversity in not only the kinds of artists that comprise the show but in the kinds of media one can see in the show itself.

“It’s interesting that the Asian artists, according to some of the North American artists, had a strong social justice component to their work,” said Versluis. “The display really shows you different ways to look at art based on cultural context. For instance, the North American artists seem to be more educated within art academies and tend to think more in terms of postmodern work. In contrast, most of the Asian artists show a strong allegiance to formalism, the form of a painting as well as figurative work.”

Versluis heard about the show through Art Professor Rachel Hostetter Smith, curator of the exhibit, who teaches at Taylor University. “I was interested in the theme of the show and thought it would be worthwhile to bring to Dordt,” said Versluis. The show is being funded by the Andreas Center for Reformed Scholarship and will remain at Dordt until the end of the 2011 school year.
Professor Smith will be at Dordt on November 18 for a reception and gallery talk. Exhibiting artists include: Roger Feldman, U.S.A.; Edgar Talusan Fernandez, Philippines; Daniel Enrique Garcia, U.S.A., b. Peru; Emmanuel Garibay, Philippines; David J.P. Hooker, U.S.A.; Barry Krammes, U.S.A.; Timur Indyah Poerwowidagdo, Indonesia; Rondal Reynoso, U.S.A.; Wisnu Sasongko, Indonesia; Chris Segre-Lewis, U.S.A., b. Jamaica; Erland Sibuea, Bali; Ni Ketut Ayu Sri Wardani, Indonesia; Jo-Ann Van Reeuwyk, U.S.A. and Canada; and Soichi Watanabe, Japan.

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Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Sabbatical at Thirst [3st] for the 2012 spring semester

A picture of the design office of Thirst [3st] in Chicago. The studio walls display some of the seminal and most interesting design artifacts of the late 20th and early 21st century. Photograph courtesy of Thirst.

On 21 October, David Versluis was notified by Dordt College Provost, Dr. Erik Hoekstra that the Dordt College Board of Trustees officially approved his proposal for a post-graduate, sabbatical leave of absence during the 2012 spring semester.

Following are a few key elements from Versluis’s proposal:

The main goal of this leave of absence is to investigate how developments in technology, business, and social priorities have impacted design education and practice in the 21st century. It is apparent that the changing qualities of culture and society have placed unique demands on design educators in preparing students in specialization toward fields such as service and interactive design.


We are a society that increasingly questions consumption and advertising, which traditionally is at the heart of the graphic design discipline. However, we also seem to demand and rely on a dynamic technological economy that affects many aspects of life. As a result there is an increased demand for service-based jobs as our country re-evaluates economic sustainability. People are demanding quality, reflective, and meaningful experiences in their world.

In the last 20 years, the general situation of design has moved from mainly:
  1. Single-artifact systems to design-language systems, focusing on a unified visual and semantic messages across multiple printed pieces.
  2. One-way communicative artifacts, such as brochures, to interactive artifacts, such as software.
  3. Designed artifacts to design thinking, where the focus of the design process is applied in the context of large-scale business, organizational or cultural problems.
  4. Commercial goods toward time-based, service design, which is about providing the resources for people in a system to learn, adapt and share the knowledge they gain about the world with other parts of the system. [1]
The objective of this leave of absence is to achieve the purpose of maintaining professional relevance and remaining academically current in the rapidly changing discipline of graphic design and design education. This effort would certainly and positively impact student learning by modeling inspiration and enthusiasm about design. In addition, departmental outreach would be further enhanced by faculty quality expertise gained through actual professional experiences that could be publicized. This indeed would translate into developing student confidence and building finer program expectations and program credibility.

During this time Versluis be working on site with the Thirst / Chicago design group with Rick Valicenti and his team of very talented and tech-savvy young designers. This is an opportunity to engage in working in one of the most imaginative design environments in the world.
  1. Kolko, Jon. “Remapping the Curriculum.” From “Voice” New Contexts/New Practices: Six Perspectives on Design Education. Ed. Julie Lasky. AIGA, 1 Dec. 2010. Web. 25 Feb. 2011.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

J.D. Gordon Advertising — a firm that honors the personal approach of graphic design

Jeff Gordon, principal of J.D. Gordon Advertising (photograph is from the J.D. Gordon Advertising website).

AIGA Dordt College Student Group is very pleased to announce a field trip to J.D. Gordon Advertising in Sioux City, Iowa on Wednesday, November 9, 2011.

This is from J.D. Gordon's website:

“… creativity isn’t just about making a pretty picture, designing a head-turning campaign or writing a snappy jingle. Although we’re very good at all those things. Our creativity goes far beyond the expected, seeping into our media plans, our daily communications and even our lunch meetings.”

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Friday, October 21, 2011

Designer, Young Ae Kim can do it all — exceptionally well

photographs by versluis, 2011

Speaker, Designer, Teacher, Product Developer and Sales — Young Ae Kim, it seems, can do it all very well. On Tuesday, October 11, 2011 the Dordt College Department of Art and Design and the AIGA Student Group recently hosted an all day event with Young Ae Kim. We were honored and delighted to have her serve as a visiting designer. And her students accompanied her from the University of South Dakota, which was especially great to have community between Dordt and USD students. Interestingly, Young Ae Kim has training in product design and so some of her portfolio work showed the relationship of promotional materials for her own products.

We thank Dordt students, Michelle Stam and Ellie Dykstra who compiled the following notes from Young Ae Kim’s presentations.

Designer tips for students (notes by Michelle):

  1. Ask to see the work of other companies. Go and visit them. This way you can see what they do and build helpful relationships within the design community. Make as many connections as you can.
  2. Be welcoming and patient. Communicate well. Get along with all kinds of people, even one’s you don’t like.
  3. Put yourself out there / take chances.
  4. Educate people logically — help them see how your design could benefit them and improve their business.
  5. Do a lot of research about the subject matter and the client. You want to know them the best you can so that you can better fulfill their needs.
  6. Employers want to see work, not degrees.
  7. Look at the big picture and where different opportunities might lead. You have to think about the future, not just what you want to do now.
  8. Try to map out where you want to be in 5 year increments from now to 50. This will help motivate you and give you goals to aim for.
Quotes by Young Ae Kim — notes by Ellie
  1. Be an entertainer.
  2. Be experienced in all areas of life.
  3. Be willing to do anything — having many experiences will expand you.
  4. Know the difference between looking good and being creative.
  5. “50 inches of invisible concrete on your face” (learn to take criticism).
  6. Be outgoing and don’t be shy — you are a communicator
  7. Have a big heart.
  8. Present yourself in a professional manner.
  9. Develop a business plan and how you can make it better.
  10. Don’t compromise and seek out job you really want.
  11. Know what you like and go after it.
  12. Doesn’t matter where you work, its how you work and who you work with.

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Monday, October 10, 2011

Onawa Public Library

Principal Architects: Normand Smith Patton and Grant C. Miller
Onawa Public Library, 1908
Addition (not shown) designed by FEH Associates, 2005-06
Onawa, Iowa (just off I-29 in Western Iowa, between Sioux City and Omaha)
photograph by Versluis, 2011

Patton and Miller was the Chicago architectural firm that designed the initial Onawa Public Library as another Carnegie Library in the United States in 1908. Construction began that year and was completed in 1909. Interestingly, along with the Carnegie monetary gift of $10,000 the library was built with a matching donation from an altruistic local judge, S. Addison Oliver. Near the completion of the library Judge Oliver also gave an endowment of $10,000 to be used for new book acquisitions.

The architectural mode of the Onawa Public Library is characteristic of the Chicago School. The Chicago School, although somewhat synonymous with Prairie School tends to be more eclectic than pure Prairie School architectural design. In its day Prairie School architecture was considered modern, efficient, and progressive. Actually, the state of Iowa has some excellent examples of early twentieth century Prairie School architecture by Louis H. Sullivan and many other architects associated more or less with the Prairie School; perhaps that’s the reason Carnegie’s Library Project Manager chose the idiom for Onawa.

The domestic style of the library is striking particularly as the landscape foliage turns autumnal. With dark earthy brick color and a large sheltering tiled hip roof, the classic symmetry creates a unified and harmonious composition. Chicago School architecture suggests the confluence of many influences, e.g., H.H. Richardson, Louis Sullivan, Frank Lloyd Wright, English Arts and Crafts, Neoclassical, etc.; this building exhibits Prairie School attributes, but also includes Romanesque Revival elements such as prominent semi-circular arches on the main floor windows and the Japanese style lintel over the front entry stoop.

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Saturday, October 8, 2011

Hand-painted Clarendon Extended & Regular

Photograph of a vintage World War II railroad troop sleeping car manufactured by the Pullman Company, Chicago in the early 1940s.
New Buffalo Railroad Museum, New Buffalo, Michigan
Photograph by versluis 2011

The Victorian typestyle Clarendon Extended on the side of this restored railroad car is painted homemade but the name “Pullman” is nicely lettered. The Clarendon suggests the beginnings of the Pullman Palace Car Company in the nineteenth century. Note how the letterer amputated the toe in the leg terminal of the “R” in Troop and Sleeper to maintain tight letter spacing.

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