By Ryan O’Connell
Arts & Features Editor
The Mazmanian Gallery opened the final of three senior capstone showings May 2, featuring the collections of three studio art majors.
Jillian Richard, concentration in graphic design, centered most of her collection around a project she made last semester - “A Multitude of M’s” - a book containing 50 M’s drawn over 50 days.
Richard said she decided to expand on this project by creating branding for the Ultra Miami Music Festival using the different M’s, designing logos and merchandise for the festival using different typefaces.
She said the collection took about four or five months to complete in total, including the time it took to design the booklet, banner, and merchandise mock-ups.
Richard said she wants to do branding in her career after graduating, and recognized expanding on a previous project would be a great experience prior to her first professional branding.
She said putting the collection on display was one of her favorite aspects of the show.
“It was really cool to see it all kind of come together,” she said. “To see it as a book is one thing, but to see it on a bag or a lanyard, on the banner, it was really cool to see how it can have different light forms outside of the screen.”
Richard said she set out to create a finished product out of something she had already made, and to apply it as many ways as she could, and achieved this.
She said she likes to create due to the possibilities it opens as an artist, and how it encourages her to make her art more dynamic. She added she enjoys the different processes artists can go through to add life or aesthetic to a piece.
Richard said her favorite part of working on the collection was the installation into the gallery, and the work she did on the banner promoting the music festival.
“I really did like the banner, kind of seeing how I could lay out the different letters, kind of getting the patterns put all together,” she said.
“I also just like seeing the finished product. I liked putting it up - I’ve never put anything up in a gallery. So it’s kind of cool to just see it all together,” she added.
Richard said the project wasn’t too difficult to put together, and everything “kind of all came together toward the end.”
She added she’s proud of the way it looks in the gallery, and she wouldn’t have changed very much if she had more time - maybe add some more branded merchandise.
Richard said she enjoyed her first time in a showcase.
“It’s cool to see everything hung up, have people come and look at it,” she said. “It’s fun.”
Sam Coombs, concentration in ceramics, had four pieces included in the gallery - three mixed media and one ceramic set - mostly focused around the theme of recycling in both an emotional and physical sense.
Coombs said her collection began with her passion for mixed media, which she has a “dear love for” and doesn’t have the time to focus on as a ceramics concentration. She added this semester’s experiments making paper resulted in some of the work in her collection.
She said her submissions originally included only the three mixed media projects - which all incorporated old documents and had a clear cohesion - but installed the ceramics piece after a blank wall was left unclaimed in the gallery.
Coombs said she wanted to create something involving the “paper content” of her life, with her mixed media pieces being made of old school notebooks, unused paper towels, old mail, and more.
She added her collage pieces, made of photographs her mother shredded, carry more emotion than the other artwork, but that it’s hard to tell just by looking at them.
“Kind of just the idea of creating order out of chaos, basically,” she said.
Coombs said although the ceramics don’t look entirely related, she thinks there’s still a similarity to be felt between the pieces.
One piece was installed on the floor and resembled a forest floor, with ceramics akin to tree trunks buried in a mossy undergrowth of loose shredded paper and blank notebooks - some text still barely legible.
Coombs said she experimented filling the ceramic stumps with different substances such as sand or water, to make them appear like otherworldly portals.
She said she didn’t have a plan or goal going into the collection, and enjoys starting multiple projects only to draw connections after they’re finished. Coombs added for this collection, everything fell into place.
She said she likes to create because it allows her to say more than she could with words, and enjoys the idea that her artwork can have different meanings for different people.
“It’s just all in how you interpret it,” she added. “I think with art, it should be up to the viewer on what they think it means.”
Coombs said some of the collection’s pieces have been in development for a long time. Art similar to her largest piece, the homemade paper display made of her old documents, were made in 2020, while all the ceramics were made last semester.
She said the focus in these pieces helped her “kick into gear” and work more on the current paper display.
Coombs said she’s happy to see it finally displayed in the gallery, since she was struggling to determine how it would actually look in an installation.
“I have a studio space in the basement of May [Hall]. And I’ve had the pieces on the floor, out on the floor in my studio, but it’s a very cramped space and you can’t really get a feel for how it would look in an actual installation. Because there’s not quite enough room for that,” she said.
Coombs said she wouldn’t have done anything different however, and is proud of the way it looks both as artwork and a curated collection.
She said she has been in a few shows before, including the 2020 and 2021 juried shows in the Mazmanian Gallery and as a high-schooler at Anna Maria College.
Coombs said her favorite part of the shows are seeing the artwork installed and the audience interacting with it.
“To watch people looking at it and see it all in a professional setting is really exciting for me,” she said.
Abby Kalinowski, concentration in graphic design, had a collection with a range of work she had accomplished over the semester, from promotional materials designed for campus events to their capstone project, a showcase of web design in HTML.
Kalinowski said the main focus of the collection to her is the capstone project, which showcases the skills she has learned that allowed her to build her portfolio website.
She said her capstone was inspired by the fact she never had the opportunity to work with web design due to her course schedule, and it was always something she was interested in.
Kalinowski’s collection included a menu, booking form, e-commerce website, and portfolio website built in HTML, a few posters she made while working for the University’s marketing department, and an educational flier for the sustainability office made in her UX class.
She said this is the first show she’s been in, and really enjoys it.
“It’s new, it’s exciting, and definitely something I want to do again,” she said.
She said the only goal she had going into her capstone was to build a portfolio website, which she achieved.
Kalinowski said she likes to create and educate, and using graphic design she’s able to send out important messages in a way that will make people gravitate toward issues she chooses to focus on.
She said a large part of her artistic process involves sampling inspirations from social media and other online platforms, as well as design elements like typefaces. She added this continued to help her even when doing web design, which was different from traditional art.
Kalinowski said she’s very happy with the way her collection looks, and has no regrets about it - she wouldn’t change a thing.
She added she only wishes she could’ve included other promotional art she’s done in her internships, such as a recent poster she did for the seed library, but that they were finished too close to the show date to install.
The show has been great for her, and recommends all studio art majors work toward it, Kalinowski said.
“I think it's just been a good experience and something that everyone in the major should get to do,” she said.
[ Editor’s Note: Sam Coombs is a Staff Writer for The Gatepost. ]