Just my type: graphic design students learn at REC
Sometimes a change of venue is what students need to spur their creativity. Such was the case recently when University of Wisconsin-Parkside Art Professor Carey Watters convened her Introduction to Graphic Design course miles from its regular classroom. Meeting at the Root River Environmental Education Community Center (REC), the students used boxes covered with varying kinds of type and other symbols to "create meaning."
"My students were given a word at the beginning of class and they tried to create meaning for that word by using the environment--where they placed the boxes--or by the way that they organized them," Professor Watters said.
Watters' class used the UW-Parkside Foundation Gallery as an experimental laboratory this summer. Their goal was to think about typography in physical space, rather than the virtual space of the computer screen. It was UW-Parkside Gallery Director Patricia Briggs who suggested the class leave the Rita Tallent Picken Regional Center for Arts and Humanities to see what they could create by going north to Racine and the REC. Watters gave students a new list of words to work with and challenged them to create five "compositions."
Professor Watters picks up the narrative. "One student had 'greenhouse,' another had 'jet stream' and they paired up and organized their boxes in such a way that they spelled out their word but created an overall composition that incorporated those two words together, creating the feeling of the 'jet stream' or 'greenhouse' gases."
So, along the waterfront near the REC building, UW-Parkside student Abbey McMillan organized and reorganized her typography, photographing each variation. Further down the bike path, a living "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil" statue was being created and recorded. Even further along, another group worked on combinations of "sustainable," "wild," and the made-up word "climatization."
After completing his compositions, computer science major Bryan Pearson, a transfer student from Auburn University, watched McMillan work from a nearby park bench. He said the 3D nature of the type boxes makes it easier to generate ideas than looking at flat images on a computer screen.
"Let's say you're building a web site and you're looking at that front page and you have the typography on there and it just isn't?right. This gives you the ability to interact with [the type] because we have different texts on the boxes," Pearson said. "So, you could flip the box and change the text which you might not have thought of before. Sometimes when you're staring at something, it's hard to make adjustments whereas this is fairly easy. You just turn a box."
Professor Watters' four hour and 45 minute long Monday through Thursday class ended June 14 earning students three credits during its four intensive weeks of instruction. Bryan Pearson, for one, found the class well worth the effort.
[It was a] "really good experience," he said. "I enjoyed the class."In the photo, UW-Parkside student Abbey McMillan records one of her compositions during the REC trip.