Sandra Devaux believes art should contain something of the soul. A lifelong aficionado of art and design, Devaux also enjoys finding words that convey her aesthetic beliefs.
One of those words, “meraki,” means “to do something with soul, creativity or love; to put something of yourself into your work,” and given the term reflects her relationship with the world of art, Devaux chose it as the title of her exhibit. “Meraki,” which runs through Dec. 11 in Lightner Gallery at Lightner Library, features many branded creations Devaux has created for Keuka College, as well as photography and select drawings. An artist reception with light refreshments will be held Thursday, Nov. 12 from 4:30 – 6 p.m. and Devaux hopes guests who attend will see beyond words and graphics to the creative passion beneath them.
“I like to incorporate more artistic sensibilities into the design process. A lot of people think of graphic design as functional and practical, but I want people to see it as an art as well,” Devaux said.
Indeed, Devaux’s work has taken her to New York City, before a return home to Penn Yan, where, after a two-year transition freelancing for the New York Yankees and designing ads for a weekly newspaper, she joined the College in December 2012. Since then, Devaux has made her mark, so to speak, revamping a number of print and digital materials across the College before being tasked with a lead role in transforming the visual identity, including the school’s logo and its athletics mascot, in 2014. In recognition for that work, she received the school’s highest employee award, the Presidential Award for Sustained Outstanding Achievement, in August 2014.
According to Melissa Newcomb, assistant professor of art and curator of Lightner Gallery, it was important to showcase the work of a graphic designer at the gallery. The College offers a major in Art and Design, and a minor in digital design has just been added to the curriculum as well.
“Sandra’s work has impacted the College aesthetically in so many ways. She is so talented, and has learned from some of the best, including Milton Glaser In New York City,” Newcomb added, referring to the man artists consider the “Father of Design.”
When Devaux first moved to the Big Apple in July 2005 she applied for an internship at Milton Glaser, Inc. and spent a few months under the tutelage of Glaser and his design team. Glaser is known for the state’s famous “I (Heart) NY” icon and the popular silhouette of Bob Dylan with multicolor hair.
“What really excited me about working there was the passion and dedication everyone had, a drive to communicate a message in a way that made it appealing and as clear as possible. That was really the first experience for me in the real world and it was very encouraging to work with people so dedicated to what they do. It was an amazing start in the right direction,” Devaux said.
From there, Devaux freelanced a short time for mNovack Design in New York, designing materials for hospitals and city colleges. The transition from internship to freelance work was fortuitous, she said, as she ultimately landed a job at the Catch 24 Advertising and Design Agency in Manhattan. There, she was assigned to national accounts including DirectTV, Lufthansa Airlines, American Express and the Yankees. She worked in New York City almost seven years before returning home to Penn Yan.
A few select works from Devaux’s big-city career appear in her show; most, however, are more recent designs created for the College. But while Devaux hopes guests enjoy seeing some original prints, feeling textured paper and flipping pages, she didn’t merely frame her works. Many print pieces on the gallery walls are presented from a new perspective, one created when Devaux photographed them, often by spreading the works across a surface and shooting at an angle or adding filter effects.
“It’s amazing how typography and imagery can take on an entirely different personality depending how you look at it,” she said. “Including photographs that show design in a more abstract way helps convey that sense of art as well, and I want them to see design as I see it.”
In the few months that Keuka College has boasted an expanded curriculum in its newest major, Art and Design, students have begun digging into new studio art and digital design courses. Now, they’re showcasing what they’ve learned.
Currently on display at Lightner Gallery in Lightner Library at the College through April 11, the student art show features a collection of digital illustration, mixed media and other designs from the new classes. These pieces are in addition to the photography, paintings, drawings, ceramics and sculptures created in existing classes.
“What you see when you walk into the space is the range and breadth of what the new art and design program offers,” said Melissa Newcomb, assistant professor of art.
On Thursday, March 20, from 4:30 – 6 p.m., an artists’ reception with light refreshments will be held at the gallery. All members of the campus community are invited to attend the event, which is free and open to the public. The work in this show has been crafted by freshmen, sophomores, and juniors as well as seniors whose major is not in art. Graduating seniors in the current program will exhibit their cumulative art portfolios later, in the final gallery show of the academic year.
“This year’s student show work is stellar,” said Winsome Zinkievich ‘14 of her fellow artists. “Though each piece is unique and tells its own story, each piece also compliments all the other works presented.”
Those distinct differences proved a bit perplexing however, when it came to handling logistics for the exhibit, Newcomb pointed out.
“The layout was a challenge because everyone has their own individual style. One piece is not like the next – so how do you create a sense of flow? But it came together with more than one set of eyes and it worked out wonderfully,” she said, crediting Zinkievich, Jesse Ninos ‘17 and Mitch Leet ‘16 for help crafting the overall design of the show.
This year’s show demonstrates the strength of the talent being developed at the College through the old and new programs, said Leet, who switched to the new art and design major this fall. Some of the additions to the curriculum include Foundations of Design, the prerequisite course in which students begin developing their art portfolios, Mixed Media, Visual Design, Digital Illustration and Digital Storytelling.
“I’m very excited about the future of art at Keuka and I feel very lucky to be part of such a fantastic show,” Leet said.
Dr. Jennie Joiner, assistant professor of English at Keuka College, is putting a new twist on some classic short stories, sonnets, plays and prose.
Joiner introduced a new course this fall, Literature in the Wider World, which serves as the new introduction to the major. It seeks to expand student horizons on books, reading, writing and all-things English and to grasp the role literature plays in everyday life.
Professor of English Doug Richards, chair of the Division of Humanities and Fine Arts, visited Joiner’s class and shared a real-life example of how English can play a role in careers beyond writing and teaching. According to Richards, a graduate of Keuka’s organizational communication program was on a sales call “that was going nowhere” but took a positive turn when the prospective client referenced the medieval poem, Beowulf. The Keuka graduate was able to build on the allusion in conversation, earn the client’s respect, and make the sale.
“You will know the stories of your culture and can engage in intelligent conversation and you’ll get further along,” advised Richards. “Keep working on building links and connections.”
And that is what the students did in Joiner’s class. They studied some classics, among them Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116, and short stories, such as Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily” and Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper. However, more than simple context and content were discussed. In addition to reading the traditional works, students also investigated digital and other media formats, and even theatrical and cinematic formats, in the case of Susan Glaspell’s play Trifles, and Fitzgerald’s classic, The Great Gatsby.
While digital technology has had a significant impact on the written word, students debate more than just print-versus-e-book preferences. One challenge Joiner gave students is to consider literature as hypertext, the embedded digital links to prior electronic postings. In the final assignment, for example, the autobiographical “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass,” a popular treatise against slavery, students reviewed the Biblical story of Daniel in the lions’ den. They then analyzed a portion of the work where Douglass describes his newfound freedom as escaping the hungry mouth of the lions.
While on its own, the reference makes literal sense, Joiner said, “it’s a hypertext without links and we have to be aware there’s a link, so how do we fill that in? We can read [literally] without understanding the allusion but what if we do? All of a sudden it takes on this whole new meaning and how does it help [Douglass] make [his] argument? His audience would have understood that [allusion] and we, today, may not.”
Douglass’s “Narrative” contains several other Biblical and secular allusions, which students further analyzed in their final class project, where they could choose their own creative medium to demonstrate the knowledge gleaned in their studies. While some students presented digital essays using literal hyperlinks and hypertext, others chose creative mediums – digital and traditional – to share what they learned.
For example, freshman Brianna Jackson of Syracuse used a multi-dimensionsal software known as Prezi, which some have compared to PowerPoint on steroids, to present a 3-D, visual display of quotes, images, colors and more. Two students, sophomore Jake Banas and junior Justin Hess wrote fictional stories, with Banas “writing a story about writing my paper,” while Hess reverted to the classic detective-reporter serial, turning the research into clues to decipher the mystery.
Meanwhile, sophomore Tyler Hixson of Shortsville created a Facebook persona for Douglass, posting photos available in the public domain, as well as links to facts and figures relative to Douglass, then “friending” the real Facebook accounts of fellow students in the class. He also created a Twitter account using the handle FreddyDouglass17.
Joiner asked students to compare and contrast pros and cons of each format or medium.
While sophomore Judy Ludwig of Rochester merged the traditional term paper with hypertext, she “came to the conclusion that you needed both – neither the hypertext nor the traditional paper did everything you needed it to do,” explained Joiner.
Similarly, Jackson’s Prezi slideshow was visually appealing, “but in terms of something that can stand on its own, this won’t work – we need you to fill in the blanks,” Joiner described.