about eight months ago, my former professor, cedomir kostovic, emailed me with an invitation to come and lecture at my alma mater, missouri state university. springfield, missouri is home to a highly unlikely, high-quality university design and illustration program staffed by instructors hailing from the u.s. (maria michalczyk, first generation of polish emigrants), bosnia (cedomir), warsaw (roman duszek and jacek fraczak), moscow (eric pervukhin), and north korea (kay youn) . needless to say, it was a great honor to be invited and i immediately accepted.
after various attempts at a workable date, the week of october 21 was decided upon. by the fall, the event had expanded to a solo exhibition of my work and class critiques in addition to the lecture. the original impetus of the visit was to talk about my work in the social change sector so that became the focus of the exhibit as well.
cedo offered to host me, which provided many opportunities for conversation at the start and end of each day. i arrived late monday night in order to set up the show first thing tuesday morning. cedo loves to cook and had prepared a bosnian pita for me, which is a phyllo dough rolled into a tube and stuffed with all kinds of possible things, then turned in a spiral to resemble a pizza shape. this one was stuffed with zucchini and butternut squash and was awesome. no pics, unfortunately. i'm surprised i didn't get fat, as he consistently plied me with granola or oatmeal, fresh fruit, juice, tea, etc. every day.
exhibit setup went pretty well overall, except for the fact that i forgot about a fourth of the work in k.c. luckily after lunch with carolyn cardenas, the chair of the art + design department, i had time for a six-hour detour to k.c. and back to get the work. with the help of several stellar and meticulous students, and some more home-cooked food from cedo, we were able to get the work up by around 11:00 that night.
the next few days were pretty leisurely mix of meals with students and faculty, class critiques, and visiting my old roommate, pal, and printmaking professor, marcus howell. the students pitched a lot of interesting ideas, ranging from raising awareness about krohn's disease to devising a new economic model for artist exhibiting their work publicly and everything in between. there were several new topics the students wanted to address that have not been dealt with, which is a sign of smart thinking on their part.
i was able to arrange a couple of additional meetings which were quite beneficial. the first was some time with instructor kay youn, who has managed to start up an internal studio with student interns that does work for internal and external clients. i'm always interested in the various foci, models and structures as i move forward with the new programme. it was helpful to see what he's accomplished so far with his studio. the other meeting was a visit to the home of roman duszek, where i was graciously treated to a lunch, great conversation about design, and a personal review of his poster, logo, personal, and art works. pretty amazing stuff and a real treat to be able to re-connect one-on-one with roman.
friday was the day of the talk and reception for the exhibition. i focused my talk on identifying traits and qualities that make "design for social change" different from "traditional" design and its value. i also showed process work from a couple of my projects, my spread love poster and m.c.e.d. identity, which benefitted from the brainpower of students jessi wilson and anna de sando.
all in all, it was an awesome trip and i'm very glad i had the opportunity during my sabbatical to do this. thanks kcai and thanks msu!