Academic departments collaborate for innovative art show

Student artist, Kendi Kajogo, used colors and textures to portray her assigned story. (Devon Nitz | The Oswegonian)
Student artist, Kendi Kajogo, used colors and textures to portray her assigned story. (Devon Nitz | The Oswegonian)

The artists of Oswego State truly shined at the Oswego State Downtown this past Saturday, with a celebration that was packed with students, faculty and residents of Oswego. Graphic Flash, a collaboration of student writers and illustrators, had its opening and turned out to be a great success.

Graphic Flash is an event, that combines the creative efforts of two classes, Advanced Fiction Writing taught by Leigh Wilson and Digital Illustration taught by Amy Bartell. The creative process was divided into two parts before the exhibition itself could take place.

The first part of the process was for the Advanced Fiction Writing class. The students were given an assignment by Wilson to write a piece of 250 words or less on any subject matter of their choice.

The short stories varied with their topic choice and mood, some writers going with darker themes while others went more light-hearted.

The pieces written by the writing class are known as “flash fiction,” comprised of short fiction stories. The students worked and revised their pieces several times before sending their works to an unknown student in the other class, Digital Illustration.

The Digital Illustration students were randomly assigned a writer and sent their writing piece. The students then created an illustration based off their own interpretation of the writing, with no restrictions, except to interpret the writing and help enhance the tone of the writing within their own illustration.

Once the illustrations were finished, the works were hung up alongside the writing pieces for an exhibition which will continue showing until May 31, in the Oswego State Downtown, located on the corner of West First and Bridge Street.

The opening attracted a large crowd. Onlookers read the short stories and looked at the illustrated to better connect their thoughts to imagery.

The student artists were also given the option to contact their assigned partner. Some students, such as Kendi Kajogo, chose not to contact their writer, and take their own interpretation of the written piece.

“The story itself is very dark and dramatic.” said Kajogo, a sophomore and illustration student.

In contrast to the written piece, Kajogo made her illustration bright with colors and textures to figuratively show the suffering of the individual in the story she received.

This collaboration rekindled a friendship with students Jonathan Pol and Kareem El-Amrani, who met in Johnson Hall their freshman year. The two students were randomly assigned to each other.

“After getting his name, I was ecstatic,” said Pol, a senior and writer for the project.

Pol left Oswego for a year and lost a lot of contacts, and was surprisingly reunited with his friend El-Amrani who is a senior, and the illustrator for the project.

Several students from both of the classes aided Bartell and Wilson to make Graphic Flash possible.

Mark Taitt, one of the Digital Illustration course-teaching assistants, created the poster design for this event, which was used to promote Graphic Flash.

“I think the creative process for the project was really great.” said Taitt, a graduate student who is getting a M.A. in graphic design. “It was a chance to take a piece of work, be inspired by it, develop your ideas and create something.”

Michael McCabe, a senior doing an independent study with Wilson, acted as a liaison between the two classes. He was also in charge of assembling a panel about Graphic Flash for Quest Day this past Wednesday.

“For these classes to come together like this, with such a division between the two crafts and yet come up with striking art is a tremendous achievement,” McCabe said.

Bartell has done smaller collaborations with her Digital Illustration classes in the past, not to the extent, however, of Graphic Flash.

“I think the idea of collaborating among classes is a really good one,” Bartell said. “When you’re collaborating not all the elements are in you’re control, and as a result some things are made possible that might not normally be possible when your working in a traditional frame.”

Wilson was overjoyed that the opening turned out to be a success.

“I had no idea I would be so proud of them,” Wilson said. “I had no idea they would be…not just professional, but passionately so. I’m so very grateful to the Art Department and the Gallery for helping to make this all happen.”

The student artists involved in the assignment will be receiving books with the illustrations and the flash fiction pieces. The collaboration between these two visual mediums turned out to be a great success. These types of collaboration will hopefully continue in the future.

Graphic Flash corresponds with Readings and Digital Display; which will showcase the writers in this project. They will read their pieces with the corresponding illustrations shown through the projector. Readings and Digital Displays will be on April 29 at 5 p.m. in the Campus Center auditorium, room 132.