The senior graphic design end-of-year exhibition titled, “You Are Here: an exploration of journey, place and self,” opened May 5 at The Baltimore Gallery.
Choosing the theme was a joint effort among the seniors and faculty; it was inspired by a collaborative project with a school in Hamburg, Germany on Detroit landmarks in which they analyzed the cultural impact and politics of mapping.
The interpretation and incorporation of the theme was left to the volition of each individual artist.
Danielle Aubert, an assistant professor in the department of art and art history and graphic design, said the students were very earnest and thorough in their various approaches to the theme.
“It was very open, anything that they wanted to do in response to the theme,” Aubert said. “A lot of graphic design curriculum and education is very controlled… but this was completely open. As a teacher, it’s a little bit nerve wracking.”
David Torres, a senior artist featured in the exhibition, said his work was heavily inspired by his Mexican heritage. His work, titled, “Vida Mía,” draws inspiration from “Lotería,” a Mexican board game, which he used to visually map out his life.
“Something I’ve been kind of sad about was that lately I feel like my memories have been kind of scattered, so I wanted to make a visual timeline,” Torres said. “[It’s] also a love letter to my Mexican heritage.”
On his Lotería board, Torres used Mexican imagery reminiscent of specific eras in his life or symbolic of the important people in his life. He used a cactus to represent his father and a rose for his mother.
“I wanted to look at everything back then to get a sense of why everything is the way it is right now,” he said. “You Are Here means—to me—where you are right now in relation to where you’ve been in the past.”
Halie McIntosh, a featured senior artist, dedicated her project to the concept of self-progression and the artistic process which transpired over the course of four weeks.
“This piece was inspired by the idea of journeys and mapping and where do you come from and how do you get there,” she said.
McIntosh created a system to track her creation process. For seven days each week for four weeks, McIntosh set herself an allotment of time—which gradually increased with each week—in which she created pieces in Photoshop using personal photos.
“My idea was to take moments from my life and how I found myself in different situations, my explorations, my journeys and experimentations in my life—just in moments, like given opportunities, and how they came to fruition and where it led me to different places,” McIntosh said.
McIntosh also maintained a journal that she used to track her thoughts throughout the process. The main goal behind her piece was to fine tune her skills as a designer and use art to express herself, she said.
“After I journal about it, I think to myself, ‘How can I adapt that work and change it in a way that expresses who I am internally and translates the message that I’m trying to send and looks great, aesthetically?’” McIntosh said.
Chris Reid, another featured artist, displayed his piece that features a cartoon figure with a speech bubble containing the phrase, “Hi! I’m Anxious!”
“I wanted something everyone could identify with—something genderless, neutral, something that doesn’t really have an identity so that way the reader could put themselves in and it would be easier to empathize with the character,” he said.
Reid focused the message of his display on the emotional turmoil behind being an artist and creating work.
“As an artist, I feel like I have to overcome a lot of anxiety just to get out there, just to do my own work, just to overcome a lot of that doubt that I’m not good enough,” Reid said.
Torres, McIntosh and Reid are just three of the 20 designers featured in the exhibit. The exhibit is open to the public May 6 and 7 from noon to 5 p.m. in The Baltimore Gallery, located at 314 E Baltimore Ave., Detroit.