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Featured Academic Unit - Department of Art and Graphic Design

"A Vanitas of Style" by Department of Art and Graphic Design student Eli Brown '17

Office of the ProvostFeb 8, 2016
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We are continuing to feature academic units across the University and highlight how they have aligned with the themes and initiatives in the Academic Plan, Crossing Boundaries. Last month we featured the Conservatory of Music. This month's featured unit is the Department of Art and Graphic Design.

Interdisciplinary practice and crossing boundaries are intrinsic to the visual arts. Art and Graphic Design courses incorporate a vast lexicon of historical and contemporary expressions of world art, design, music, science, architecture, technology and engineering as benchmarks for augmenting an internationally relevant education and practical professional development in all disciplines. Contemporary technological developments continue to influence the arts and this new visual literacy impacts artists practicing in all media. The Department's programs, Reynolds Gallery and faculty research/exhibition schedules are practical examples that reflect this diverse range of artists and designers practicing in the 21st century. Exemplary projects undertaken by faculty and students or through collaborations with other entities include: Calliope Literature and Art Magazine, Stockton Re-photographic Survey, Heinz Mural Project, Oakwood School Re-Brand, Aquatopia, DeltaFusion, Pacific Wayfinding system (which received the Hoefer Prize in 2010), among others.  

Historical and new media concepts and practices are routinely re-introduced and hybridized in the art/design studio. Within the arts, there is a long history of technology opening the door of innovation. In her new Mobile Digital Art course, Associate Professor Lucinda Kasser introduces concepts, methods and styles of drawing and painting utilizing mobile devices as the media, prompting students to create imagery unique to this new media. Students will explore new approaches to papermaking and the book arts in Assistant Professor Monika Meler's courses this spring. "Design Thinking" as a curricular structure and plan for strategic innovation is being introduced by Associate Professor and Co-chair Brett DeBoer as an alternative way to explore the history of design.  

In addition to design fundamentals, Associate Professor Marie Lee's Graphic Design 1 course introduces students to the world of sustainable design, diversity, ethnicity and global perspectives. Through in-depth interdisciplinary collaborations with the Eberhardt School of Business, Professor Lee's Graphic Design 3 students bring to life engineering inventions envisioned by Professor Cynthia Wagner Weick's graduate-level Technology Venturing course. Similarly, design students create visual applications for real-life marketing problems undertaken by Professor Sacha Joseph-Mathews' undergraduate International Marketing and Promotions courses.  

The Reynolds Gallery program opened the fall and spring semesters with exhibitions by Professor and Co-Chair Daniel Kasser and Professor DeBoer. Professor Kasser's exhibit Spare Parts and Unfinished Business contrasted recent works from his Delta Lands portfolio with experimental works and mythopoeic interpretations of the transformation of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta landscape. Professor DeBoer's exhibition Invented Forms and Imaginary Objects is a personal interpretation of celestial guardian angels rendered on different media and exploring new developments in digital print technology.  

The diverse exhibition and research activities among the arts and graphic design faculty is an example of the their scope of involvement beyond our geographic borders. In addition to the works currently on exhibit, Professor DeBoer is engaged with a variety of client-based graphic design projects and pursuing on-going visual themes involving music, and transforming musical instruments.  Monika Meler is currently showing large-scale prints in the International Contemporary Art on Paper exhibit in the Palazzo Fogazzoro, Venice, Italy. She is also preparing for a solo exhibit How Things Fall Apart, which will take place in the Frontier Gallery in Missoula in May, the same month she will be an Artist in Residence at the A.I.R Studio in Paducah, Kentucky. 

Professor Lee recently founded Singing Hands, a fair trade artisan cooperative and student agency though which Pacific students support disadvantaged minority artisans in China and work with them to design and market products that merge indigenous aesthetics and technologies with contemporary design. Besides creating product prototypes, the agency runs on-campus events, operates an online store, works with marketing students and other student groups that have come together to support the agency's vision.  

Associate Professor Jennifer Little's photographic work focuses on social and ecological intersections between the natural and the man made environment. Her most recent photographic series, 100 Years of Dust: Owens Lake and the Los Angeles Aqueduct, is receiving significant recognition from galleries, publications and curators. Professor Little recently won the prestigious 2014 Critical Mass Top 50 Award from PhotoLucida. Professors Daniel and Lucinda Kasser have become finalists in an RFP to produce a signature art installation for the Sheraton at Turtle Bay Art and Science Exploratorium, scheduled to open in Redding, California, Fall 2017.   

As can be seen by the innovative and collaborative teaching and scholarly work being conducted by the members of the Department of Art and Graphic Design, as well as their artistic and creative work, the faculty are actively engaged in equipping students for academic success and providing them with knowledge and practical experience to be successful in the dynamic world of graphic design and visual arts.  

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