These projects are special not only because they are out of the ordinary, but because they are the ones I will always remember. With each of these creative adventures, I took a big step outside of my comfort zone, and each time I was rewarded with an unforgettable experience, and the opportunity to connect with my hometown and surrounding communities in ways that continue to shape me and my career.
Pop Up Promenade
This painted street is part of an effort to create an attractive, inviting space in downtown Greensboro, NC. It serves as the backdrop for the Pop Up Promenade, a weekly block party with food trucks, street performers, a beer garden, event-specific lighting and greenery, and an interactive "Pop Bot" that answers questions sent via SMS and displays instagram photos tagged with #popupgso; the answers and images are projected onto the side of a building.
About the Design
The honeycomb pattern speaks to a sense of community, activity and connectedness, all of the things that the Pop Up Promenade hopes to encourage. I didn't truly design the pattern, (any more than one can "design" polka dots or plaid); my contribution was in recognizing how perfect it was for defining the narrative of the space. That, and the fact that you've gotta keep it simple when you're painting a street-sized pattern using duct tape and a yard stick, y'know?
About the Colors
Each Friday and Saturday during May and June, the Promenade "pops up" on February One Place, in the heart of downtown. This street is named in remembrance of the famous non-violent sit-ins, which occurred at F. W. Woolworth's "whites-only" lunch counter on February 1, 1960. The stools at the lunch counter were coral and aqua, and by tying the paint colors to the legacy of the location, we were able to not only honor a significant moment in our city's history, but also achieve the seemingly impossible goal of getting unanimous support for the chosen hues.
The Intersections Project
The Intersections Project (TIP) is a collaborative initiative launched by the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art (SECCA), Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School System, and the Arts Council of Winston-Salem/Forsyth County. I had the honor of being the resident artist for TIP 2014, working with six classes of students over the course of four days at RJ Reynolds High School, an arts magnet school located in Winston-Salem, NC. My role was to teach the students about repeating patterns, and to facilitate a collaborative wallpaper design. Easy, right?
The participants included two Geometry classes, two Art 1 classes, E-Media and Advanced Art. I met with each class twice (three classes each day). Day one was spent on individual warm-up assignments, tailored specifically to each class’ curriculum: the Geometry classes worked with tessellations, Art 1 used foam rollers and foam stickers to create infinitely repeating pattern stamps, E-Media experimented with creating digital repeats using the existing symbol libraries in Illustrator, and the Advanced Art students used good old-fashioned pencil and paper to create pattern tiles by hand.
On day two, the collaborative designs came to life. At the end of day one, I had asked each student to cut a shape of their choosing from a quarter-sheet of sticky foam. When each class met for the second time, those shapes became part of a giant rolling stamp made from a giant piece of PVC pipe (approximately 3' long, 6" diameter). The students arranged their shapes in the allotted space, and I made only minor adjustments to the layout. Once all shapes were securely in place, a three-person team (two brayers and one roller) would slowly roll the stamp down a large piece of canvas, with those on brayer-duty re-applying paint approximately every two seconds.
Part three (oh yeah, I forgot to mention part three) is proof that I am a glutton for punishment. I digitized all of shapes from the class prints, and combined them into one crazy-awesome design (emphasis on the crazy), which was printed on wallpaper (a generous donation from Spoonflower). One roll of wallpaper will stay at Reynolds High School, and one will remain on display at SECCA.
The students did an amazing job with this project - my favorite part was seeing their collective surprise and delight as they watched their large-scale print emerge from the random assortment of shapes that they created.
TIP always coincides with an exhibition at SECCA that is meant to lend context to the residency. This year’s show is Graphic Design: Now in Production, an exhaustive and exhilarating display of examples of communication design produced since 2000.