Students Cap Design Education with Exhibit

June 7, 2022

Exhibit photographs by Michele Brautnik

Ferris State University students Mallory Jarrett, Mckinley Kreitner, Nathan Nye, Olivia Smith, and Ngan Tang had something extra to celebrate just before their graduation weekend. Part of the Design Program in the College of Business at Ferris, the students launched a successful exhibit in collaboration with the West Michigan Graphic Design Archives. 

Called “Unexpected Choices,” the exhibit highlighted work from the Graphic Design Archives collection recognizing five West Michigan organizations: AutoCam, French Paper, Grand Rapids Opera, Herman Miller, and Upjohn. All of the work exemplified the connections graphic design can make with audiences to educate, promote, engage, or inspire, helping organizations achieve their goals.

The exhibit helped both the Ferris Design Center and the West Michigan Graphic Design Archives achieve their goals, too. Olivia Smith, at a reception at the exhibit on May 5, said, “We utilized all we’ve learned in the last four years of  our design education to put on this exhibit. We used new software and methods to prototype and organize the space.” 

Mckinley Kreitner elaborated, “We went from conceptual development, where we made low-fi sketches, paper prototypes, and scaled 2D renderings in Figma, to production, where we learned more about digital printing processes, and into installation. Our team has a new appreciation for quick whiteboard conversations, group brainstorming, and prototyping methods. Within this experience, we also developed social media, emails, a website, signage, campus postings, and take-away pieces. It was a great experience defining a design system for real-life application, and we learned a lot about ensuring visual consistency throughout digital and printed materials.”

Barbara Loveland and Linda Powell, co-founders of the archives, note the alignment with West Michigan Graphic Design Archives goals, especially providing opportunities to learn about graphic design, be inspired by excellent work produced in our region, inspire others by inviting interaction with designed objects, demonstrate how graphic design has helped businesses achieve their goals using unexpected design solutions, and show appreciation for West Michigan’s graphic design leaders, some of whom attended the exhibit reception. 

Olivia concluded, “This exhibit has definitely left an impression on us. We’ve been inspired to take all that we’ve learned and apply it to our own work as we soon continue into our professional careers.”

The students worked under the direction of faculty members Alison Popp and Nicolas Mata; the exhibit in the Ferris Fine Art Gallery was supported by Carrie Weis, gallery director. BrightFormat offered production expertise and resources to make the exhibit possible.

While the exhibit was originally slated to close in early May, the gallery changed its plans to keep it in place through the summer. Check the Fine Art Gallery website to confirm availability and hours, and then take a road trip to Big Rapids!

Opera Grand Rapids creative team: Mike Gorman and Yolanda Gonzalez (center) with Ferris student exhibit designers

Herman Miller creative team: Yang Kim, Lois Maassen, Barbara Loveland, Steve Frykholm, Linda Powell