Choose a magazine, use your knife to remove parts of pages. Reveal or conceal, each new page is a design brief to be solved and the problem becomes more complex at each turn. The accumulation of choices cannot be undone. This project challenges students to consider the collage method backward, using a subtractive method often used in sculpture.
With the support of Qatar Foundation and Tasmeem Doha 2019, first-year students from the Art Foundation department at VCU School of the Arts Qatar resurfaced wooden tables for the Torba Farmers Market.
Each “Torba Table,” is hand drawn by a pair of first-year students. They use two primary tools: The marker & the grid. Through the combination of these two tools along with a basic question of either filling or not filling each triangle, a vast diversity of outcomes are possible. The result is a unique graffiti-like approach but with the consistency of an underlying visual system.
You can check them out at Torba Farmers Market, and Tasmeem Doha 2019!
The project was designed by Associate Professor Nathan Ross Davis with Teaching Assistants Gihad Ataalla and Sarah Elawad for the Surface Research course in the Art Foundation Department.
The Student artists are:
Mashael Albaker, Fatima Aldosari, Aisha Alfadala, Noora AlHardan, Alreem Alkubaisi, Maryam Alsulaiti, Alanoud Althani, Asmaa Althani, Ayman Alban, Abdul Rahman Alkhatib Alhosani, Alice Aslem, Farrah Hamada, Maha Masri, Amira Mohamed, Yousef Sheikh, Latifa Alfuhaid, Sharifa Almal, Deema Almarrikhi, Ghada Alqashouti, Roudah Alsheeb, Hala Alghanim, Ghada Ali, Maryam Alsayed, Hannah Fakhri, Farida Fathala, Gayatri Maelathil, Danna Masad, Fatima Ramzan, Ege Yigit.
Humans love to imagine being somewhere, someone, or something else. Theatre, film, and even Instagram are examples people performing identities that are rooted in the imaginary and the fictional. They have distance from the truth of the everyday self. This project is based on the imaginary, the fantastic, and the wonderful, dress-up, role playing, and fantasy photos. Students are asked to design a photobooth based on their own fantasy scenario.
The result of a collaboration between Latifa Al Kuwari, Sarah Al-Afifi, Reham Ahmed, Sarah Elawad and Nathan Ross Davis, this book is the first screen printed book to be produced in Qatar. The publication was sponsored by an Undergraduate Research Grant at VCU Arts in Qatar, printed by Mr. Vinent at Printec in Doha. Published by water with water.
4 color glow in the dark ink
Printed on arches 75gsm cotton rag paper.
Edition of 100.
During the course of this semester long project called Graphic Speculation, a small group of students engaged in visual research and production inspired by artifacts and images from the collection at the Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassam Al-Thani museum. In a visual research studio model, under the direction of Assistant Professor Nathan Ross Davis, students collaborated to produce visual works which translated and transformed selected images and objects in the museum into new visual works. These works were speculative in nature, provocative in form and relevant to contemporary graphic discourse.
Professor Maysaa Al-Mumin and I collaborated in the fall semester by developing this project called Collage Object. Born from our shared interest in collage and from ongoing discussions about our shared interest, we decided to pool our students and run a project together. Students were asked to make a collection of objects, then over the course of a few weeks to combine them in innovative ways. The last stop was the spray booth before the photoshoot. This project demonstrates methods and techniques related to visual simplification and unification, and requires a great deal of material awareness and inventivness in contstructing techniques.
Choose a site, design a costume that is based on the site.
Each year this proves to be an exciting project for students. There is no question that it is a huge challenge for them to cross the social boundaries that this project requires. Once they have overcome their fear, it can be empowering. The personality of each student shines through in this project, as they take on a sense of pride and ownership of their work, and inventive ways of translating a place into a costume and ultimately into a photograph.
Collage in the most fundamental sense is an act of juxtaposition, which carries the potential to produce new ideas, concepts and meaning. As a process collage and also juxtaposition generally can be a great way to ideate and generate inspiration for a variety of creative projects. It can happen that collage moves from a process into a product, just by the nature of the form.
As a product, collage may take many forms from polished digital paintings or rough rip and paste mixed media. There is a long history of collage which provides a backdrop for our project, but more interestingly is the contemporary resurgence of this method of image making. Collage has found a home in mainstream advertising, fashion, design and art. Collage is an art-form which has been embraced with equal affection by artists and designers from many backgrounds.
The surface ur-face project began by scanning the students with a 3d scanner, then processing their geometry into more simplified portraits. They worked through a series of digital processes and then physical processes, using paint, markers, and ink. These images were then re-scanned and more works produced.
There were two main issues at stake in this project, one is the influence of technology to replicat and image a person, the other is the process of translation between handmade and digital imaging processes. This is the first practical experience the students have moving their work between digital and physical, as such the struggle was at times immense. It is my hope that they begin to see the computer not as an end but as a means, and just one of many tools for making images.
Many of the works continue to live in a state of messy process, but several were collected by Fatima Al Remaihi and myself and put into a book we designed, with text was added alongside. The book is called extropian, in reference to the belief that technology will save humanity. Extropianism in a mathematic context also describes the preferable state of maximum possible futures.
Call them badges, pins or buttons, these unassuming little moments of text and image have been used to communicate a hugely diverse range of messages. From revolutionary politics to geek humor, this format is accepting to many approaches to communication. For this project students engaged in research and making processes to develop a set of 4 pins which resonate with one another, with the title, the packaging design and the brief story on the back of the package. The relationship between images, between text and image and between context and content are emphasized. Basic ideas of communication theory, techniques of making meaning and visual syntax are the concepts that this project engages. Students are asked to make simple images into complex communications. The idea is important, but the way the ideas is communicated the key.
Dokanism/دكانيزم is a celebration of the cultural diversity of Doha and local shops as representations of unique cultural identity and style in the face of increasing globalization of retail. This is a series of photographs of young women who designed and modeled costumes based on local shops in Doha. The costumes represent the morphing and the customization that happened when personal identity and local environment collide.
Though our project includes still images, gifs and video, the theme “Design in Motion” for us applies thematically to the importance of contemporary cultural production in a time of rapid sociocultural change. Through the lens of young female identity, by capturing, remaking and participating in the dynamic cultural environment of the Gulf our project is a provocation for engagement and a question about preservation.
We are interested in sharing a unique view of the work of young women in the creative community in Doha and to spark relevant contemporary cultural ideas and discourse.
We took the students to visit the local artist residency called the Fire Station. They were able to see young alumni and other international artists working in the studios. This gave them the opportunity to ask questions and for some, even to have a better picture of what it might be like to be a professional artist.
I had the pleasure of working with a visiting faculty member in the Fashion department in the Spring of 2016. Our collaboration was rewarding, smooth, easy going and for the most part successful. We attempted to merge the content of the Fashion Project class with a project from Surface Research. Initiated by a suggestion from the Foundation Department Chair, Simone Muscolino, Melanie McClintock and I decided to collaborate because we believed that more overlap between our courses and more synergy between content and form might yield more engaged and prepared students. Along with that, we thought it would be great to work together.
It did require more time and more coordination but it was all enjoyable. Each of us learned from each other and the students benefited from our exchange. We were able to model a professional process and working relationship that was interdisciplinary within the arts and to show that collaborations across departments can and should happen.
In the Surface Research course, students produced collages, and then a digital layout on a tote bag pattern and were then printed on canvas. When students arrived in the project course in Fashion, they cut and sewed their bags into handbags according to the pattern.
The bag label was in reference to a Marina Abramovic quote from her performance druing her segment of Art 21. You can view a preview here. We began the semester by watching this whole video. Some of the students were really affected by it, and as a result the quote became kind of sticky. I decided it would be an interesting way to "label" the bags.
The tissue box is everywhere in Doha. The ubiquity of the object and the humble nature of its purpose, which levels humanity and social status through the hygienic needs of the human body, brought us to reflect on the unmonumental nature of the tissue box. The tissue box and its environs were thus the hub of our discourse and visual production. Students observed, collected, redesigned, and then ultimately produced a photograph where their tissue box could find a home. Some went in totally unpredictable directions but solved a variety of problems to achieve surprising results.
Developed as a collaborative project between students in Time Studio and Surface Research courses in the VCUQ foundations program, these posters and stop motion videos investigate the concept of #3eib—the Qatari definition of socially questionable practices. These projects represent cultural observation, critique and celebration of local customs.
Students were asked to become primary researchers, by observing the local customs and visually defining the concept of 3eib. In contrast to haram practices which are based on religious concepts from Islam, 3eib refers to socially defined behaviours which are not forbidden, but are generally not acceptable. These vary widely between families, regions and social classes. By asking questions about prevalent social norms these projects open a dialog, giving students and faculty the opportunity to learn about cultural differences and similarities in a studio setting.
Collaboration with Simone Muscolino
Based on the principles put forward in Bruno Munari’s Flight of Fancy, this project employs creative problem solving to explore possibilities for variation, alternative solutions and introduce the idea of divergent thinking.
Students draw as many unique ways of organizing a given set of random dots, they scan these drawings and then using Adobe Illustrator for the first time, they translate their pen drawings into vector illustrations. These are then uploaded to gifmaker.me and turned into a social media friendly animated gif.
An exploration of place and identity, students choose a local space or site as the inspiration for the design of a costume. After designing and producing the costumes, they document themselves in both in the photostudio and in the chosen site wearing their design.
In each area of the city there are multiple Mosques. Each Mosque has a Minaret or series of minarets which are landmarks and beacons for the site. Additionally each mosque has particular design features which contribute to the sense of place and identity of these community centers. Students set out to document these mosques and their unique features and translate them into a simple graphic language. This process requires observation and exploration of their local urban environment, and challenges them to look at their neighborhood as a site for graphic communication.
A gift is something freely given without expectation of reciprocation or payment. This exchange takes many forms and is culturally situated. In most capitalistic and consumer societies, the ritual around the exchange of gifts is similar: an item is wrapped to obscure the contents requiring the recipient to open and unwrap the gift. The ritual implies effort, care, thoughtfulness, and value. It also places a high value on the notion of surprise or the discovery of the unknown.
In its wrapped form the gift provides many clues to the giver’s intentions, price range, thoughtfulness, the occasion etc. This project asks students to consider a gift as an opportunity to provide a particular aesthetic experience which reflects local values, customs behaviors and aesthetics.
This project runs like a workshop in the classroom, combining images with image and text to see what can happen. Part photo documentation, students are required to use their camera to collect photos, their writing processes and their power of visual perception to combine simple images and texts into complex communications.
This project involves using a simple technique to animate a printed image. Like all early cinema techniques, this method has a magical quality to it which inspires a sense of wonder.
Though the technique is rather simple it does take some experimentation and learning of the tools in illustrator in order to solve the problem. Simple yes, but precise too. Craft and precision are absolutely necessary for this project to work.
Why do some Qataris purchase the luxury products that they do? Is there poetry involved? There are many who say that they waste money, and only buy things because they are expensive. This independent study project sets out to show an alternative view, one that adds nuance and personal poetry to the choices that are so often seen as purely excessive.
Questions that are thematic in this research:
Can luxury consumption be anything but conspicuous?
Are "taste" and money really so divergent?
Can the objects that are sold to luxury consumers have personal meaning that transcends their brand value?
This independent study was conducted with Maetha Al Khayaarin and Maryam Al Ameri in the Painting and Printmaking department.
Using cast plaster objects from the space research course, students were asked to re-surface their objects to create a completely different visual experience. A first introduction to paint as a media and color as an organizing visual element, they were then instructed to produce a stop motion of their object in space.
This project is the first forray into the idea of taking an object and using it as a graphic element, flattening the object visually, then reactivating in as a "graphic object." In the fall 2017 the space studio and surface research course will explore this possiblity further through a collaborative project called collage object.
We took students on a field trip to local museum to see the huge collection of paintings by Luc Tuymans. The exhibition sparked a lot of dialog that continued during the semester.
An exploration of place and identity, students choose a local space or site as the inspiration for the design of a costume. After designing and producing the costumes, they document themselves in both in the photo studio and in the chosen site wearing their design. In this iteration students also had the option to use the green screen studio to place themselves into the site digitally.
Each year we put together a collection of student work and exhibit it to coincide with the BFA/MFA show. This particular year we really pushed it however, and made a pretty big splash in the saffron hall. I was asked to design the graphics, and Marco Bruno designed the structure for the display of the work.
Following up on the clean digital approach in the Divergence project, students were given similar constraints and completely different tools. This time larger scale, with Krink paint pens they were asked to reinterpret one of their original illustrations taking advantage of the particular qualities of the paint pen.
Juxtaposition is the comparison of two ideas by proximity. Collage in the most fundamental sense is an act of juxtaposition, which carries the potential to produce new ideas, concepts and meaning.
As a process collage and also juxtaposition generally can be a great way to ideate and generate inspiration for a variety of creative projects. As a product, collage may take many forms from polished digital paintings or rough rip and paste mixed media. There is a long history of collage which provides a backdrop for this project, but more interestingly is the contemporary resurgence of this method of image making.
Collage has found a home in mainstream advertising, fashion, design, art, and of course most ubiquitously music. Collage is an art-form which has been embraced with equal affection by artists and designers from many backgrounds. In this projects students apply collage techniques in a variety of ways, but ultimately use their designs to produce graphic designs for tote bags that are produced in collaboration with Melanie McClintock in the VCUQatar Fashion Design department.
Based on a process that I developed in the design studio, students were given a set of images, a graphic frame, and a step by step process to follow. The process required strict technical application of digital skills and allowed the students to each produce an animated GIF that was used on the conference website for Tasmeem Doha 2015.
A mash-up of regional decorative arts and western sport counterculture, this project involves designing locally inspired graphics for skateboards. This project juxtaposes two different value systems and is both a commentary and celebration.
A collaboration between Drawing Studio and Surface Research, this project asks students to choose an object which they feel represents the idea of “home.” Students wrap and then draw the object. The drawings are combined with fragments of text from a writing charrette, which abstractly articulate their idea of home.
This project is a collaboration with Jesse Payne.
We had a week long writing workshop with guest critic Jennifer Kabat. It was a week filled with wisdom from Jennifer about how we can become better, more confident and more effecient writers. We all benefited and Jennifer had a great time getting to know our students.
Students design a scarf that can be worn, but which also has hidden digital content via the Layar application (augmented reality). The project asks students to consider the difference between public and private, to reveal and conceal, and to explore their experience with internet culture as a resource to generate new cultural production.
These images are selected spreads from the Process Narrative book. Students in the Senior Design Studio at Ohio University developed a visual narrative, using an intuitive process in a systematic structure. The resulting individual books were collected in one 800 page volume, called process narrative. The end of each student's narrative marked the beginning of the next student's narrative. The goal was to examine a shared experience and the perception of similarity to highlight differences in our perspectives, thought processes and visual experiences.
Students collect and crop 20 images from Flickr (under the commons license). They then print and post all images on the image wall. Each student selects any 16 images from the wall that resonate as a set. Then they assemble the images into a square composition, and apply a word to activate and guide the viewer's reading of the content of the images. Finally they produce a printed mounted version and a digital version, which they upload to the Flickr account for the project.
This project was featured in:
Participate: Designing with User-Generated Content
By Helen Armstrong and Zvezdana Stojmirovic. Princeton Architectural Press.
Students develop an expressive typeface from a handheld object. This is their first typographic exploration, and they use their intuition to determine how the forms come together. The typeface must be typographically legible and the object must be recognizable. They then produce a type specimen brochure and poster to highlight their typeface.