Is the Future Online Classes?

Teaching methods based on tutorials, cumulative projects, and concept based learning strategies.

Dannell MacIlwraith
Assistant Professor
Kutztown University

More and more colleges and universities are beginning to explore offering traditional studio art and design courses online. At Kutztown University, first year students are required to take an online Digital Foundations course. This course gives a solid grounding in basic computer skills, software knowledge, and visual thinking, a framework for more complex areas of digital media. By giving the flexibility of an online class — students can still have hands-on techniques, experience constructive critique, hand-in physical prints, and have a good mentor/student relationship.

As the curriculum designer, I based my teaching methods on tutorials, cumulative projects, and concept based learning strategies. The short tutorials are designed to maintain attention. I have abandoned the traditional discussion forums of online education, instead utilizing social media for critiquing techniques. Finally, through surveys, quizzes and an ‘artifact’ project the faculty assess Digital Foundations for tweaking and modifying for future sections.

Many colleges and universities are moving classrooms online for financial savings. What are the most effective strategies for teaching art & design online? What about ensuring the same rigor and quality as an in-person course? We’ll explore possible solutions to these problems that are facing the early pioneers of online education in design.

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 6.3: Fordham University on May 16, 2019.

The Fusion of Art, Science and Technology

The integration of artistic expression into current technological design methods.

Min Kyong Pak
Assistant Professor
University of Southern Indiana

In our high-tech modern world, scientists and artists push the limits of fusion and innovation to create new avant-garde narratives, emerging formats, and technological platforms. Technology and medium are constantly evolving. The demand for better quality in new media, storytelling and medium continue to evolve. Examples of new media include artificial intelligence, augmented reality, data visualization, interactive media, human-computer interface, video games, and virtual reality. In order to create this new media, artists are required to use code, data, and algorithms.

Storytelling is not merely confined to spoken or written words. There are many ways by which a designer can tell a story. A designer can exploit cutting-edge advances in science and technology to tell a story with artistic influence. My interest is to integrate artistic expression into current technological design methods. This project will give a voice to ideas that touch and affect us on a daily basis, search for who we are, and relate to our environmental world around us. The result is to infuse art, technology, and culture in the context of a community or geographical location. The greatest work of art connects and engages with our senses, heart, soul, and mind.

We live in a complex world. The digital age provides us with many opportunities to rebuild and adapt to an ever-evolving continuum. Both art and science are forms of exploration. Designers explore innovative designs, and scientists find the answers. Both transform reality and innovation to push our expectations and imaginations. My vision is to bridge the gap between art and science to create the best 21st century design. I believe the fusion of art, science, and technology is transformative and revolutionary.

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 6.2: CAA 2020 Conference Chicago on February 14, 2020.

Obstruction by Graphical Construction: How Graphical Sculptures Can Counteract Symbols of Hate

At the intersection of art and law is the Visual Artists Rights Act (VARA) 1990, which forbids the destruction or manipulation of copyrightable works of art.

Brian McSherry
Adjunct Professor
Borough of Manhattan Community College

By using art, design, and law how can one legally affect politics and social equity in the United States, specifically when it comes to symbols of hate? This proposal looks towards a specific intersection of art, design, physical property, and legal loopholes to answer the aforementioned question as it relates to proposed border policies in the United States. At the intersection of art and law in the United States is the Visual Artists Rights Act (VARA) of 1990, which forbids the destruction or manipulation of copyrightable works of art.[1]

Recently, the destruction of 5pointz, a derelict graffiti haven in Long Island City, exemplified the power that VARA has as it relates to real estate production (Feuer, 2018).[2] Jerry Wolkoff, the owner and developer of 5pointz, was forced to pay 45 graffiti artists a total of $6.7million in restitution for the destruction of the artists’ work.

However, can VARA be used as an estoppel to the destruction of art, or is it merely a remedy for damages? According to the case of David Phillips, VARA allows for a temporary restraining order to protect works that are likely to be altered (Lipez, 2006).[3]

This proposal looks at these cases, the history of VARA, temporary restraining orders as a guide to create site-specific graphical work to stop border wall production. In order to halt the production of a border wall, one must purchase a parcel of land and create a site-specific graphical structure.

Here, one will not only have real estate protection, but also protection in the intellectual property of the work and the protection granted under VARA. Thus, an artist can use law as art and art as law to create a visual and physical safe haven in an area brimming with symbols of hate and exclusion.


[1] Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990, Pub. L. No. 101-650, 104 Stat. 5128 (codified in scattered sections of 17 U.S.C.).

[2] Feuer, Alan, “Graffiti Artists Awarded $6.7 Million for Destroyed 5Pointz Murals”, New York Times, 2018.

[3] Phillips v. Pembroke Ral Estate, Inc., 459 F.3d 128 (1st Cir. 2006).

When the Process is the Product: Pollock, Gehry and the Illusion of Randomness

Craig Konyk, AIA
Assistant Professor
School of Public Architecture
Michael Graves College
Kean University

This paper explores the role of randomness in the design process using two examples for the field of art and architecture as illustrative examples: Jackson Pollock and Frank Gehry.  Both Pollock’s and Gehry’s work rely on the revelation of the process as the product.

Jackson Pollock is one of those art world figures that is frequently derided by the average person with a dismissive, “My kid could paint that.” Abstract Expressionism (the combination of the term “abstract” with “expressionism”, two vastly different artistic movements of the 20th century) defined a certain “automatism” of the process of the paint’s actual application, even defining Pollock in a certain sense as the “idiot savant” of the post-war American art scene; child’s play indeed.

Frank Gehry’s study models of torn paper and crumpled foil elicit similar decrees of child-like facileness from the same quarters.  But for all their apparent improvisation, a closer study reveals quite a different narrative.  Contemporary critics of the time, when not dismissing the work outright, were compelled to suggest edits and/or additions, the implication being that the works were somehow “disharmonious” in their present state and in need of adjustment.  But when the process is one that defies easy visual “completed-ness” in the traditional sense, the artist/architect maintains the final arbitration of that “completed-ness”.

The acknowledged acceptance of Polock’s and Gehry’s work as serious endeavors allows a certain liberation for experiment in design, outside of the pragmatics of functionality.  It is not to say that we now all have to “do a Gehry” in order to be “artists”, but we are now in a position to argue for more difference in approach, rather than any narrowly focused expectation of what a design project should look like.  In that respect, as designers, we now have the freedom to allow the process to be revealed and use randomness as a strategy, which enhance and elevate all design investigations.

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 4.1: San Jose State on Saturday, Sept 30, 2017.

INPLACE: Innovative Plan for Leveraging Arts Through Community Engagement

Robert J. Thompson 
Assistant Professor
Graphic & Interactive Design
Department of Art
College of Creative Arts & Communications
Youngstown State University

Terry Schwarz 
Director
Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative

Kent State University

In 2015, the National Endowment for the Arts, an independent federal agency that funds, promotes, and strengthens the creative capacity of our communities by providing all Americans with diverse opportunities for arts participation awarded the Department of Art in the College of Creative Arts & Communication at Youngstown State University with a $100,000 “Our Town” grant to fund arts engagement, cultural planning and design projects. Their programs support creative place-making projects that help to transform communities into lively, beautiful, and resilient places with the arts at their core.

The grant authors, Asst. Professor of Graphic Design, Leslie Brothers, Executive Director of the McDonough Museum of Art, and Dominic Marchionda, City-University Planner with Youngstown State University successfully proposed the “INPLACE” project, otherwise known as “Innovative Plan for Leveraging Arts through Community Engagement.” INPLACE came together over the course of three years through a unique blend of artists, designers, community stakeholders and civic leadership. It focuses planning initiatives and resources in targeted locations within city-in-revival Youngstown, Ohio to draw on the compounding effect of well-coordinated action and creative output. It is directed toward community driven public art projects that combine storytelling with art and design to create memorable, permanent place-making experiences throughout the city. The NEA chose only 64 of nearly 250 applications from across the nation for funding. INPLACE offers unique opportunities for members of Youngstown’s creative community to play an integral role in this prestigious NEA Our Town grant.

This presentation seeks to present the process of discovery, working with various constituencies within the Youngstown community, mentoring teams into cultivating meaningful, high-quality projects, share project proposals, and provide updates on the INPLACE project, which ends in July 2017.

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 3.3: Kent State University on Saturday, March 11, 2017.

On Technology, Design and Art: A Reformulation

Alex Liebergesell
Associate Professor
Pratt Institute
Graduate Communications Design

The term “design” (Latin designare, to designate) is defined as “intent.” Technology, from the Greek techné (art, craft), are tools derived from the deliberate application of knowledge. Design and technology are therefore inseparably rooted in their common meaning as the deliberate instantiation of ideas.

Vilém Flusser, in his 1993 essay About the Word Design, explains design as a “bridge” born during the Industrial Revolution, which attempted to close the “sharp division between the world of the arts and that of technology” in place since the Renaissance. For Flusser, design is a reunion of “equals” which makes “a new form of culture possible.”

But is design really a reunion of art and technology? In the face of converging trends in art, technology and design, Flusser’s typology is outmoded. His view still maintains a separation between art and technology, and while he ascribes a strong causal value to design as a cultural arbiter, he over-expresses its dependency on technology and ignores art as an intrinsic expression of technology. In short, neither art or design are defined as technologies, thus rendering his entire equation untenable.

However, if we designate both art and design as technologies, and accept that the former is primarily preoccupied with intrinsic expression and the latter with extrinsic functionalities, we can readily assign technology as the universal constant from which all knowledge, inventions, and creative expressions — in effect, all culture — emerges. By assigning equal value to art and design as manifestations of technology, we can better grasp the convergence in methods and intent that are common to these disciplines today. Moreover, this alternative formula provides room and equal footing for liberal arts and social science co-products such as philosophy, political theory and the institutions which sustain them, all key technologies and human inventions essential for design and artistic development.

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 2.1: Pratt Institute, Graduate Communications Design on Saturday, October 24, 2015.

Black and White: Basic Color Terms

Grace Moon
Adjunct Professor
Graphic Design, Dept of Art
Queens College, CUNY

Black and White: Basic Color Terms is the first chapter from a manuscript titled, An Illustrated History of Color, in theory and practice. The overall scope of this book, as the title implies, is to set out a comprehensive account and analysis of the development of color as it has been used by artists, designers, and craftspeople, as well as the history of its theoretical framework and language. The first chapter title is “Black and White; Basic Color Terms.”

First, the impetus for embarking on such a large and generalized topic is that color in academia has been reduced to modernist tropes that leave little to the imagination in its actual implementation especially as we move from pigment and ink to digital space. So entrenched have our ideas about color theory become that in all of the most current books published on the subject none stray from Modernist basic methodology and worse, many are rife with superficial anecdotes without proper reference and incorrect definitions of color terms and concepts. Also the topic of color crosses over into other non-visual disciplines such as anthropology, linguistics, child development, visual science and comparative literature. In exploring the topic of color at the intersection of the arts and sciences I believe we, as visual creators, will have a better grasp of what color is and means within our disciplines.

The first chapter is looking at “basic color terms,” —a label linguists have given to the general hue of a culture’s essential color palette. Industrial societies have eleven basic color terms; black, white, red, green, yellow, blue, purple, brown, orange, pink, grey. Linguists have also determined that color terms have historically developed along a specific path. For instance, preindustrial Black and White; Basic Color Terms societies have four or five basic color terms; black, white, red, followed by green or yellow—and if a culture has a sixth term, then it is blue. But, blue never precedes the other colors. While the sciences have puzzled over these curious findings; why is red always the third term, and why is blue not a term before green or yellow, artists and designers have not yet weighed in on this debate. Visual creators have innately understood the importance and relationships of colors and their dimensions and have a lot to add to this interdisciplinary study. The key points in the basic color term debate as well as point towards its impact within the arts and design fields will be addressed. That is, the impact of artists and designers’ upon basic color terms and the nature of how societies understand color itself.

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 1.3: Parsons The New School on Tuesday, December 2, 2014.