Tag Archives: SPAC

From Crayons to Concept: the Senior Design Students Showcase their Work and Personality

By Chelsea Elzinga

The Seattle Pacific Art Center exudes a sleek and professional art gallery persona more than ever this week: An oversized leather ottoman sits in the middle of the exhibition space and the showcased pieces lay graphically arranged against the walls, illuminated by dramatic spotlights.

It has designer written all over it.

Last night, the graduating design students at Seattle Pacific University opened their showcase exhibit From Crayons to Concept.  Seventeen student oeuvres are now displayed for the public to see, side-by-side, in horizontal panels along the gallery walls. Each panel is filled with artfully arranged print, web, and illustration work that includes examples of type magazines, package design, brand systems, promotional materials, event posters, album covers, info graphics, the list goes on. The pieces are truly eclectic and, although allowed limited room to breath, the space they do fill is lively and vibrant.

From Crayons to Concept, the Senior Design Showcase at the SPAC gallery

Given this potentially overcrowded space, the problem-solving nature of a designer is put to the test. With so much visual information vying for the viewer’s attention, competition is fierce not only within the individual’s panel but also between all seventeen panels.  At times, aesthetics are challenged.

Tracey Ige’s showcase

In an arrangement of multiple products with different personalities like those of Emily Dionne or Candice Nagel’s showcases, various color pallets and diverse line styles contest the cohesiveness of the grouping. Illustration-heavy portfolios like Tracey Ige’s and Mandy Hough’s feel more at home in the gallery setting than other arrangements because of their fine art leaning. Consistent color schemes and less diverse materials and medias give a strong sense of the designer’s personality in the work of Brie Milligton and Perry Azevedo’s portfolios.

part of Sam Cho’s 2012 London Olympics brand system

part of Lauren Krabbe’s 2012 London Olympics brand system

One over-arching design item consistent throughout the show is a rebranding system for the 2012 London Olympics. Banners, tickets, website design, subway posters, billboards, and other promotional materials have been thoughtfully and creatively redesigned by each senior. The vibrant cross-cultural and global themes of the Olympic games are knit into the visual culture of London with eye-catching results expressed in beautiful and diverse modes by the individual designers. The show as a whole gains in quality points with this noticeable thread that the viewer can easily recognize and engage.

As a whole the goal of From Crayon to Concept is to showcase the journey of a developing creative. The students’ visual histories are not as visible as the “Crayon” aspect of the show’s title indicates.  The connection to the past is sometimes emphasized in a personal photograph here or a child’s handwritten note there, as in the case of Willy Bravenec’s showcase, although the autobiographical and youthful memoirs are lacking in most designer’s collections.  While unaligned with the show’s title and the exhibit’s welcome message that claims “Each of us have taken time over the past few months to rummage through old photos, look at our visual histories, and observe not only what influenced us, but also what was inherent in who we are” it doesn’t at first appear so.

To be fair, however, the role of a designer is not to necessarily put one’s fingerprints all over one’s work in obvious and blatant ways. No, these graduating students have certainly recognized for themselves the intrinsic nature of the development of their personal mark in their work, even when working on the same product like the Olympics. This personal understanding makes for a dynamic and intriguing exhibit in which each creative mind has communicated his or her unique taste and conceptual perspective with the effortless appeal of a burgeoning designer.

Visit the show at http://crayonstoconcept.com/


Evan Adams: Senior Studio Show

In our postmodern art landscape, we are so accustomed to irony that sometimes a dose of concentrated sincerity can be shocking to our sensibilities. That sincerity is a blood (occasionally near-literal) pulsing through the work of oil painter Evan Adams, whose senior show is currently up at the Seattle Pacific Art Gallery. Adams’ colorful pieces attempt to capture “the utmost of human experience… beyond visual perception.” Between his artist’s statement, the poetry mounted on the walls, and the unrelenting vibrancy of color and motion, the emotionalism of Adams’ show is unapologetic, and as such occasionally falls flat or becomes saccharine. But when Adams is doing what he does best, his pieces have an ethereal beauty and a truly moving quality.

The first thing to strike the viewer about the show is color—each piece is soaked with bright hues, one on top of the other, swirling and moving in sync (and sometimes not in sync). The colors are, for the most part, bright, fresh and saturated, though Adams also likes to work with some blacks and pastels for contrast. The scope varies with the canvas size—his larger pieces reach for a broad spectrum, while his smaller ones are often case studies with just one or two hues. An abstract expressionist at heart, Adams seeks to organize colors in order to take the viewer into a spiritual space. The pieces that best accomplish this are his larger, more fluid pieces, with long, meditative brushstrokes. In the left corner of the gallery is his most successful work, “In the Beginning.” Turquoise, lavender, soft orange and bright pink cascade down the canvas, recalling water and air—the “breath of life.” Its diagonal motion, both ascendant and swirling at once, is transporting, and an example of the moving power of pure color. A violet-themed piece on the opposite wall, “Purple Haze,” is similar in its uniform vision and marriage of color to motion. Both of these pieces reveal Adams’ sense of color harmony and visual beauty.

There is a conscious sense of the physicality of the paint, slathered on thick with dramatic brushstrokes. Though in most cases the color is the content, the brushstrokes go a long way toward determining the success of the pieces. The most gorgeous paintings display a smooth, wet-into-wet technique that creates a silky, dreamy quality, visible in several of the works, perhaps half. Others have an intriguing, feathery feel. But Adams’ colorful sense of wonder gets obscured when the brushstrokes become blunt and thick, especially in the smaller pieces; when this happens, the paintings take on a finger-paint quality that reads more as a study than as a completed work.

Moving outside of these color-studies, Adams’ work becomes more ambitious, with large canvases expressing themes of redemption—two with tree-like subjects and swirling rainbow colors, and one expressing the passion of the Christ. All have a beautiful sense of color, but there is a nagging sense that the forms in the pieces are not as well rendered as they could be which distracts from the overall impression. Adams excels in creating emotion out of pure color and movement, and any move into more representative work finds him faltering slightly. His Christ has the potential to be riveting, but I couldn’t help wondering if it might have been more effective with even more abstraction—perhaps we didn’t need to see his face.

In the front of the gallery, Adams has a “cave” of mirrors of sorts set up for the viewer to step into, each mirror splashed with a bright color. This piece seems to exemplify what he wants viewers to take away from the experience. Adams wants each person who steps into the gallery to have a highly personal experience—to see the colors and see themselves, to go to a spiritual place with the help of the images. If Adams continues to play with the beautiful harmonies of color that he has begun to explore, he is sure to move many.

Lauren Wilford