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Showcasing Imagination

International artwork was on display at the 2019 CO|Show Curated by the Department of Art & Design faculty and students

The trend-setting imaginations of an international community of graphic designers was showcased in Grand Junction in December 2019 at Colorado Mesa University’s Department of Art & Design biennial . The three-day event featured posters from artists around the world, plus intense workshops for CMU students conducted by premier graphic designers.

The 2019 gathering was organized by Mesa Emerging Designers (MED), the AIGA student group at CMU. The event attracted hundreds of visitors to the multi-faceted poster show at 437CO, CMU’s downtown art gallery and Western Colorado Center for the Arts. The event also featured talks and workshops by world-renowned graphic designers Ben Blount, Rick Griffith, Myrna Keliher and Christian Belanger.

“We display posters by artists from different countries who are in the field of graphic design. We really want to see the different trends that are happening worldwide,” said CMU Associate Professor Eli Hall, a co-founder of the event that started in 2013. “This also was the first time that we decided to do a group show at 437CO featuring the work of our four visiting artists.”

The show was a draw for the creative community and the workshops, longer and more comprehensive than in previous years, provided invaluable education for CMU’s graphic design students.

“The 2017 show was my first, and I had never been part of anything like it. I saw it as an incredible opportunity not only for the students but also for the community,” said CMU senior Erica Duda, co-president of the MED club. “The workshops were a lot to take in, but in a positive way. The guest designers brought so much knowledge that they made the workshops something I’ll never forget."

One of the 2017 presenters, Dalton Maag, had a major impact on CMU’s graphic design program, Hall said.

“Dalton Maag (and his designers) created the typefaces that are used by USA Today for headlines and body copy,” Hall said. “We looked at that software, which today is the industry standard, and said, ‘Hey, we need this!’ It took two years to get it but that’s what we now use in our classrooms at CMU.”

An additional benefit for students, said Hall, is the prestige of listing those workshops on the resumes they’ll send out when they enter the highly competitive job market.

“It’s a really important part of what we’re doing because the speakers we’re bringing in have very good reputations,” Hall said.

Hall said the possibility of adding a public-specific workshop to the 2021 event is currently under discussion. •

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Written by Dennis Taylor