Senior graphic design students display projects in exhibition


GVL / Annabelle Robinson

Allison Bair, Staff Writer

“Designed: State of Mind” is an art exhibition that showcases the work of 12 graduating Graphic Design majors from the Grand Valley State University’s Department of Visual and Media Arts.

This exhibit gives a space to display the work made by students for the BFA Student Design Exhibition. Students were able to explore topics or ideas they were passionate about through their own individual works that include websites, apps, packaging, magazines, stained glass and other design projects. 

Emily Hahn, one of the graduating seniors, used this opportunity to begin developing a website that she expressed is “a work in progress.” She stated that her piece is inspired by her own experiences with discrimination. 

I am gay and have realized that many people in the Grand Rapids area who are LGBTQ+ do not have resources, such as housing, safe jobs, events and so on,” Hahn said. “I wanted to make a website that would have resources for them to look through.” 

Additionally, Hahn designed a poster to advertise the website and made different free items, such as stickers and buttons aimed to support the LGBTQ community. 

“There are some nerves though,” Hahn said. “I feel like a lot of people at GV are LGBTQ+ friendly, but I still worry that my work will be judged harshly because it has to do with the LGBTQ+ material.”

Overall, Hahn said she feels the opportunity to have her work presented in an exhibit not allows people to view her own work, but to see “what kind of terrific things are going on in the art department.”  

Another student in the exhibit, Hannah Barton, created an educational app that teaches programming to adult women.

“My target audience is actually middle-aged women because they didn’t necessarily get the opportunities to learn when they were our age,” Barton said. “Kids today have access to so many resources, but that wasn’t always the case.” 

Barton said through participating in the exhibition, she was able to tap into her creative side to problem-solve when things didn’t go as planned. She said that the process for “Designed: State of Mind” has been a learning curve.

“It was such a much more in-depth process than I ever could have imagined,” Barton said. “We acted as our own art directors, so we had to make every decision about the show, and I think it was a great learning experience for everyone.” 

Hahn and Barton both said Assistant Professor of Graphic Design and User Experience Lindsey Peterson helped to aid in the preparation process.

“I feel like we had to go through a very intensive process to make sure our projects were easily digestible to the audience and that the information we provide for them is accessible, so they can understand why we each made the projects we did and how they would exist in the real world,” Barton said.

The graphic design senior show creates a culminating experience for students who have pursued their graphic design degree throughout their time at GVSU. Many students found that the challenges within this process gave them the opportunity to push themselves.   

“Because this is the last big thing I do at GV, it really put pressure on me to go above and beyond what I’m normally capable of,” Hahn said. “My pieces are definitely some of my favorite work to date.” 

Similarly, Barton said the experience of preparing and seeing the end result of the exhibit is something she values. 

“It has never been on such a huge scale for me before, and it’s honestly very rewarding to see all of our blood, sweat and tears paid off in the end,” Barton said. 

The exhibition is located in the art gallery in the Haas Center for Performing arts and is currently open to the public until Dec. 8.

The gallery will be closed Nov. 23 until Nov. 25 for the Thanksgiving break and will reopen after the holiday.