The Creative Spark!—The Secret to Crafting Fine Art Exhibits

Do you have an inner artist?  A wannabe designer who never got over kindergarten finger paints?  A tech happy tinkerer who wants to mold a NASA jet propeller?

Ever since I saw my first Banff Centre art installment, I fell in love.  The abstract messages in each design made you think.  The digital clown laughing, and then crying, and then displaying a wide range of ever-changing emotions, made you think.  Surely, it had some significance.  But I never figured it out.

Surely if I studied design from post-modernism to psychedelics, I’d have greater insight into what was going on.  And who has the slightest insight into what makes modern art artistic?  A splash from paint buckets chucked at a canvas sells for thousands.  Maybe the dream of kindergarten finger paints ain’t so farfetched after all.

And who hasn’t dreamed of building a NASA robot for the sake of fine art?  Robots have little other purpose, after all.  Alexa turns off lights and turns on music in celebration of Big Macs and easy living.  Even a five-year-old gets kicks out of pushing buttons.  Why delegate it to a robot?

So, how do these fine art exhibitors think up displays?  Well, they might need a Master of Fine Arts, theory, and a proposal heaped with buzz words.

But after reading Graphic Design The New Basics, I think I figured out how Fine Art exhibitors approach their creations: through projects.  The book’s authors Ellen Lupton and Jennifer Cole Phillips show various projects for thought-provoking design:

  • Brainstorm your art into the Banff Centre: “Generating multiple iterations of one subject is a means of digging deeper …. This classic exercise asks designers to choose one subject and visually interpret it in one hundred ways” p.  14).
  • And why not show-off your design’s dance moves? “After building a solid typographic composition, designers applied a series of actions (both physical and digital) to their initial design.  The actions were prompted by a list of verbs, including fold, cut, tear, touch, warp, reflect, multiply, copy, disperse, compress, and reflect.  Each designer chose how to turn these verbs into design …” (p.  24).
  • How about displaying your very own Dr. Jekyll?  “This project invites each designer to develop a fictitious person that amplifies, undermines, or rediscovers an element of themselves and then to design through the lens of that character” (p.  27).
  • The idea of space makes for great exhibits: “In this project, designers explore point, line, and plane as tools for expressions. They immerse themselves in space and observe it from multiple points of view, including different vantage points (above, below) and different psychological orientations (as a male, a female, a giraffe, a shrimp, etc.).  Participants generate images of their chosen spaces …” (p.  44).
  • Make fine art out of words: “In this exercise, designers composed five justified squares of type inside a ten-inch frame. Variation of type style, texture, and value were achieved by combining contrasting characteristics such as old-style italic serifs, uniformly weighted sans serifs, geometric slab serifs, and so on ….  Finally, students manipulated the squares to achieve … balance, tension, and depth” (p.  74).

Had it not been for the generous donations of Alberta’s energy sector, I never would have seen the Banff Centre exhibits.  Left versus right?  Let’s face it, without a sugar daddy, there wouldn’t be much to enjoy at the Banff Centre.

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