Art professor Eric Carroll’s 2D Design course is underway on a Wednesday afternoon in late October, and students are working on computers in clusters of four. The word on each monitor is the same—”vote”—but the similarities end there, both for the art and the artists. Colors, typeface treatments, and images vary wildly. The students represent a mix of class years. Some are art majors; many are not. And they each have unique different visions for this project, which began the first week of the semester.

Their assignment: Produce a poster, using the word “vote,” that encourages people to cast their ballot on Nov. 8. Through the fall, Carroll emphasizes the process behind creating one poster. The students started by thinking about “vote” simply as curved and straight lines. They sketch before turning their vision into a computer file, workshop their drafts with Carroll and one other, and spend time in each class session on a new iteration of their concept. Multiple drafts hang on the walls of the first-floor student lounge, a public reminder about how art evolves.

In the 2D studio’s third-floor windows, another class project is on display to the Mac community: “vote” in giant letters, paired with images of the word spelled out in American Sign Language. Says Carroll, “They’re thinking about the word ‘vote’ so much that the letters will turn into shapes and forms, but they’ll also think about the content and what it means in such a polarizing election season.”

The deadline for the students’ individual posters is two days away. When the posters are complete, they’ll be delivered to several Twin Cities community partners. In the week leading up to Election Day, the posters will hang in libraries, community centers, and bookstores—and that makes a difference for the students as they work. “It’s very motivating to make art that serves a purpose and has an end goal,” says Hannah Gray ’18 (South Pasadena, Calif.), a linguistics major. “This isn’t just going in my portfolio. It’s exciting and refreshing, and there’s a little pressure. We’re learning skills that we can apply in so many ways.”

October 27 2016

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