Friday, December 1, 2017

Visiting Ringling College of Art + Design

In my next life, I want to be an artist. And I want to spend my formative years at Ringling College of Art + Design. (I know -- you're still back on the afterlife/Nanette as an artist idea. But let's suspend disbelief for the moment.)

A visit to Ringling College capped off my "Art Talks" class at Ringling's Lifelong Learning Academy. Tim Jaegar was our guide for the day. Jaeger is Ringling's Campus and Community Engagement Manager and a Ringling alum. His passion for the school came through loud and clear.

Portion of Kanapaux' "Momentum"
We started our tour in the jaw-droppingly beautiful Alfred R. Goldstein Library. The Library opened just last January and is "a state-of-the-art building that seeks to transform the way that users engage with library collections and services." Its open environment is intended to foster interaction among students and collaborative learning.  I suspect a lot of that interaction happens on the terraces.

The core wall on each of the three floors is wrapped by "Momentum" by Julie Miller Kanapaux. Kanapaux's digital design was chosen from more than 200 entries in a mural contest. The image was printed on vinyl and then affixed to the wall. Jaeger likened it to a "giant vinyl wrap." To get a sense of what the Library looks like, click here. Better yet, check it out in person. The Library is open to the public from 8 a.m.-8 p.m. daily.

Tim Jaeger
From there we headed over to the Willis Smith Gallery to take in the Collaboratory Commitment exhibit. As we walked, Jaeger told us more about Ringling. The College has grown to 1500 students, more than 20% of whom are from outside the U.S. Fourteen different majors are offered, not all of which relate to the visual arts. Acting and Creative Writing are on the list, and the newest major is in Virtual Reality Development.

The mere thought of VR makes my head spin (not to mention making me feel very old). My only VR experience was at the Dali Museum, where I donned a headset and entered the "Dreams of Dali." It was amazingly cool. (Click here for info about that ongoing exhibit.) Jaeger pointed out that while there are many artistic applications, there are also opportunities for VR to be used in nearly every field. Imagine, for instance, a doctor in the US assisting in a surgery in a third world country via a headset.

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The Collaboratory Commitment exhibit was quite exciting in a low key way. The Ringling has a collaboratory department that matches up students with clients in need of designers. The Sarasota Police Department recently worked with Ringling students on its rebranding initiative. In another project, students designed labels for a winery.

The students participating in this program work in an "office" with cubicles and computers intended to simulate a real world work environment. And they get paid for their work, whether they're creating designs for an external client or marketing materials for the College. Pretty cool stuff.

Book of prints made by inmates
at San Quentin
From there we were off to the Richard and Barbara Basch Gallery for a peek at the Freedom of the Presses exhibit. The exhibit had a distinctly political bent that Jaeger acknowledged might rub some people the wrong way. He encouraged us to consider both why we are attracted to particular works of art and why we don't like others. It's a much more disciplined approach than my typical knee-jerk reaction.  I particularly liked the book of woodblock prints made by inmates at San Quentin included in the exhibit. And my thoughts keep returning to a poster by Interference Archive that read "We Are Who We Archive."

Warren Reinecker drawings
Our last stop was the Lois and David Stulberg Gallery to see an exhibit of work by Warren Reinecker, a General Motors Automotive Designer. On my own, this is an exhibit I would have walked in and out of in about two seconds flat. Why? Because I'm not a car person. (Yep, a knee-jerk reaction if I ever heard of one.) But there's much to appreciate in Reinecker's innovative designs, not to mention his drawing skills.

Throughout our time together, Jaeger repeatedly made the point that design is everywhere. The challenge is to take the time to notice and appreciate it.














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