Those who go to the December art exhibit at McPherson College might find work that’s “just their type.”
Given that the senior exhibition in the college’s Friendship Hall gallery includes work from the college’s new “Typography and Logo Branding” class, that’s a pun very much intended.
“Typography design is another form of art, and a way to make a living,” said Dee Erway-Sherwood, associate professor and program director of graphic design. “I think people take it for granted when they look at a font. It is a true art, all to itself.” Mark Dowdy, Huntingdon, Pa., has three framed examples of his font designs in the exhibition. He said he took a roundabout route to being a graphic design major (undecided to information technology to communications to graphic design). But he found that typography piqued his interest, even if before he thought being an artist was out of reach.
“Fonts have the ability to change the way one reads type,” he wrote. “For instance, you’re probably reading this sentence differently than you read the last one. In this way, each font has its own soul and voice. I love being able to capture that voice and match it with a body - a logo, a brand.”
Typography is just a small part of the exhibit of about 100 works of art, representing years of artwork as the five students in the show pursued a degree in graphic design from McPherson College.
“It’s really a culmination of all their hard work on campus,” Erway-Sherwood said. “It gives them a place to feel grounded and see all they’ve done in their time here.”
In addition to Dowdy, the exhibit displays the work of Heath Helmer, Shawnee, Kan.; Jake Luedke, Raymond, Neb.; Rebecca Lewis, McPherson, Kan.; and Sadie Green, Hutchinson, Kan. Media used ranges from computer prints to clay to paint to colored pencil.
Green will be graduating with an emphasis both in graphic design and in studio art. Her work includes cuddly robots, graphic design for a non-profit library, and unnerving pencil drawings including stylized skulls.
“I like to bring to life something that is a symbol of death; I enjoy bringing expression and emotion to something that doesn’t have either one,” Green said of the skull imagery. “As a graphic designer, we use symbols every day in our work. We convey a point with visual images, like a story without words.”
Luedke’s work focuses on a number of unique logo designs and eye-catching posters, including a wide-eyed owl in subtle pastels and earthtones.
“I always try to capture art styles from different periods in time,” he said. “The style I have been focusing on currently is Victorian-style patterns and textures.”
Helmer focuses on bold graphic and marketing design with solid blocks of color and thick borders. Among the work on display are a mock marketing campaign for the Atlanta Zoo and a variety of poster designs for “Día de los Muertos.”
Helmer said art has been a part of his life since his earliest memories, when his mother showed him her rock collection of unique specimens - teaching him that beauty can be found in all things.
“This sparked my artistic explorations and one would usually find that most of the edges of my schoolwork and notes would be filled with little sketches and stick figures,” he said. “I learned quickly that teachers didn’t really appreciate my art, especially when it lined test papers, so I stopped doodling on homework and papers and started drawing where it was appropriate and acceptable.
Lewis has probably the greatest variety of styles and mediums in her portion of the exhibit - including a bust sculpture, black-and-white photography and drawings in addition to her graphic design. She said that as a third grader she was discouraged from pursuing art by a teacher who told her to choose being a nurse or a lawyer as what she wanted to be when she grew up to be sure the bills are paid. “Leave the artist careers for the wealthy,” the teacher had said.
“Around thirty years old, I finally realized to create is integral to who I am,” she said. “I have always made art; now I have made art my career.”
The work will be on display through Dec. 19. A reception for the artists will be open to the public from 7 to 9 p.m. on Dec. 13 and will include refreshments.