Graphic Flash explodes with student creativity

Graphic Flash, a collaborative project between Oswego State students, is having a gallery opening Nov. 20 at Oswego State Downtown and will continue into late January.

This is the fourth Graphic Flash offered for exhibition and is an “explosion of creativity, involving over a hundred students and faculty across multiple disciplines,” according to the advertisement provided by the creative writing department.

Graphic Flash consists of students studying creative writing, digital art, digital publishing, cinema and screen studies, broadcasting, music and human-computer interaction. It begins with the creative writing students. Each student writes a flash fiction story—250 words or less— and then those stories are sent at random to art, cinema and music students.

Leigh Wilson, the director of creative writing at Oswego State and the professor of the fiction writing class involved with Graphic Flash, spearheaded Graphic Flash with art professor Amy Bartell.

“Although it seems to have been around for a while, Graphic Flash actually only began a couple of years ago,” Wilson said. “Amy Bartell in the art department mentioned to me that she would like to have some stories from my students for her digital illustrators to illustrate.”

At the time, Graphic Flash only consisted of the advanced fiction writing class and Bartell’s digital illustration class.

“What Amy and I both discovered is that a student rises to the occasion and produces his or her best work for something as professional as this project,” Wilson said. “It’s a collaboration that incites excellence, I think.”

Wilson does not see Graphic Flash ending with art, cinema and music students. She would like to include cultural critics from a literary studies class, taught by Douglas Guerra, an assistant professor in the English department at Oswego State.

“In the longer term I’d like to see SUNY Oswego expand the ways it showcases student work, particularly 21st century work–Graphic Flash is essentially a digital project, a collaborative project, an interdisciplinary project and an experiential learning project,” Wilson said. “All of these things are harbingers of the future, and they are also things SUNY Oswego does very well as a college.”

Joshua Adams, a visiting assistant professor at Oswego State, teaches the film practicum course, which is the class producing the films for Graphic Flash. Each of his students has made a short film adaptation.

Adams’ students were excited when they learned they would be taking part in Graphic Flash, but then had some difficulty with some un-filmable aspects of the flash fiction stories they were assigned.

“We had some colorful debates in class about how much artistic license they had to the story–in regards to changes,” Adams said. “Some changes are inevitable, when adapting stories, but the question that was most prevalent, especially in flash fiction, is how much change is too much change?”

A minor alteration to the film could have a big impact to the storyline since flash fiction is so short.

“In the end, my students took stellar stories and made fascinating films,” Adams said. “But what makes me really proud of my students is     the work.”

Andrew Kowal is a senior creative writing major at Oswego State and is currently taking Wilson’s advanced flash fiction course. During the spring 2014 semester he was the student coordinator for Graphic Flash.

“People are going to get more interested with so many different angles,” Kowal said.

Cynthia Clabough, the chair of the art department and the professor of digital illustration, said she and Wilson started working together during the summer for Graphic Flash.

“This year, the Graphic Flash project will be featured in the second issue of a new online magazine being started by the art department through a grant we received from SUNY,”     Clabough said.

Clabough, like Wilson, hopes Graphic Flash will branch out into more areas.

“For the art department, besides Graphic Flash, we hope we can continue to collaborate with different departments on campus to produce creative and scholarly work that can live in the real world whether through an established online zine, exhibition, or other types of publishing/display,” Clabough said.

Other professors and courses involved with Graphic Flash are Paul Leary, teaching the electronic music course and Cara Thompson, teaching the digital publishing course.

The opening reception for the gallery is at Oswego State Downtown Nov. 22 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. The release event for Graphic Flash is Dec. 2 at 6:30 p.m. in the Marano Campus Center Auditorium. The creative writing students will read his or her work, followed by the showing of the video adaptations and illustrations.