Graphic design seniors seek REACTion

Stephanie Allen

For 12 Grand Valley State University graphic design students, Friday’s REACT senior show means more than just using the skills they learned in class to make a good project – it’s a new experience that lets them show all of Grand Rapids their unique design styles.

“No matter what we design, we want our viewers to react to it,” said student Jennifer Lumetta.

REACT is part of the larger annual event Art.Downtown., which showcases more than 350 artists at more than 30 venues around downtown Grand Rapids in one night.

Graphic design student Meagan Norman-Meadows has been the curator of their space at 144 E. Fulton, which will also feature work from four other GVSU art departments — visual studies, time studio, paper-making and advanced drawing, with a grand total of 52 GVSU student artists participating.

“We couldn’t ask for a better venue, or for a better date,” said student designer Kyle DeGroff. “We’re right off Fulton and we’re gonna get a huge crowd. It’s gonna be a big show.”

Along with some help from GVSU professor Matt Walsh, the graphic design students have put on the show by themselves.

“All of us have been just on the grind all semester long trying to get this stuff planned and coordinated, from, you know, all the social media to working on our individual projects and coordinating with the other artists that are going to be involved,” DeGroff said. “There’s a lot of ins and outs that definitely is an eye-opening experience to the whole exhibition side of the art world. And were definitely all new to it’s a new experience for all of us and were definitely all learning as we go.”

Lumetta said that although every designer had a different style and theme, the designers’ motivation was the common theme that tied the show together and gave it its name. But REACT doesn’t just affect the viewers — it means so much more to the students, who have been working on their projects independently for over five months.

“As a final show of our college career, our work is a reaction to our experiences at Grand Valley, not just academically, but socially and culturally too,” Lumetta said.

The projects are made from many different types of media, including coffee table books, wall mounted graphics and video productions, Lumetta said.

“Really, we just hope our viewers will spend time with our projects and think about what they mean,” Lumetta said. “What they take from each piece is up to them, but we hope our audience will keep our messages with them even after they leave the show.”

DeGroff said the range of different styles and creative ideas shine a new light on graphic design.

“[Graphic design] is not just about making something pretty. It’s not about just selling a product or trying to appeal to one genre of people,” he said. “I think the show itself encompasses kind of all of our individual styles and our influences and our goals and how we can take our personalities and showcase them through our design, and somehow influence people for a greater good and for a greater cause. How can we use design as that tool to influence change?”

The entire Art.Downtown. event is free, and more information is available at For more information about the REACT show, and for a sneak peak at the designer’s projects, ‘Like’ their Facebook page, or check out their website at to learn more about the designers.

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