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Going Beyond: Global Perspective on Campus

Posted August 8, 2014 in Classes & Presentations

Study abroad experiences aren’t the only opportunity KCAD students have to discover a global perspective. Thanks to “Beyond,” a collaborative initiative with Ferris State University, the entire KCAD community enjoyed a cultural immersion right here on campus that opened minds and ignited curiosity.

Started in 2012 by Piram Prakasam, Director of Ferris’ Office of International Education, the Beyond initiative challenges students, faculty, and community members to make connections between the self and the larger experience of humanity. “The whole idea behind general education is to get students to look at the world with a broad perspective,” said Prakasam. “To do that, we have to bring every part of campus into the conversation.”

Beyond Mytholgies exhibition"Beyond" transformed the KCAD student commons into an interatcive exhibtion that explored mytholgoy from a number of different angles

For the 2013-2014 academic year, the initiative expanded its reach to KCAD, where Art History professor Jordan Fenton led the integration of this year’s theme – myth and mythologies – into individual program curriculua and a series of co-curricular events. But what does the study of myth have to do with art and design? According to Fenton, they’re inextricably linked.

“The theme of this project is really the construction and deconstruction of narrative, because myths are all about how narrative is forged through time and space,” said Fenton. “When we take a step back and look around at everything we do, the knowledge that informs anything is in some way or another a constructed narrative. So as artists, designers, students, educators, scholars, and people, we have to be cognizant of the way in which knowledge has been constructed. To be able to have the critical tools to understand that construction, take a step back, and deconstruct it, that’s essentially the artistic process and that’s the research process.”

Beyond Mythologies exhibitionThe educational component of the"Beyond" exhibtion encourgaed KCAD professors to incorporate explorations of myth into their classes

At KCAD, Beyond: Mythologies began with an exhibition of art and information that explored how constructed narratives, both past and present, can influence art, design, and even popular culture. Professors from all programs utilized the exhibition as a part of their classes to get the creative juices flowing, and many integrated mythology into their curriculum by devising a project or experience that centered around the theme.

“The exhibition created a lot of meaningful discussion about dealing with the boundary between art, design, and craft,” said Fenton. “If we examine how other cultures deal with this division, we find that there isn’t one in most cases. However, there is here in America, and whether or not that’s good or bad is something that’s worth talking about.”

Beyond Mythologies ExhibitionAccording to KCAD professor Jordan Fenton, myths are narratives that are forged through time and space

Following the exhibition, KCAD students were given the opportunity to drive their own exploration of myth making by submitting creative and research-based projects that would be judged for a merit scholarship award of up to $1,000.

2014 MFA Photography graduate Ethan Ross, for instance, compiled an extensive body of research on American landscape photography and distilled it into a written piece exploring how the nature of the medium has enabled photographers to construct idealized visions of America. Metals and Jewelry Design student Natalie Beasley, on the other hand, created a collection of ancient Egyptian-inspired funerary jewelry after delving into the mythology surrounding that culture’s funerary beliefs and practices. Student projects were presented during a symposium held at the Urban Institute for Contemporary Art (see below for a complete list of scholarship winners).

Dr. Jordan FentonKCAD professor Jordan Fenton speaks at the "Beyond" symposium

“The idea of having a symposium to really measure what our students did in relation to this goal of creating a college-wide discussion got a lot of support, so we ran with it,” said Fenton. “Some students took a more traditional look at narrative and then remade that narrative in their own way. Others were much more challenging and confrontational with existing narratives and worked to deconstruct them.”

By colliding with perspectives, beliefs, practices, and cultures outside of their own, those who immersed themselves in Beyond emerged with a heightened understanding of the defining interconnectedness of our world. This global perspective can be a valuable tool to artists seeking to make a greater impact with their work.

Student Ben GeorgoffCollaborative Design student Ben Georgoff presents at the "Beyond" symposium

“Global awareness is a critical cornerstone of education,” said Prakasam. “The Beyond initiative allows students to see how a global education prepares them for the realities of a global world.”

The collaborative initative will continue for the 2014-2015 academic year, under the theme of Beyond: Diversity.

"We are hoping to collaborate very closely with KCAD again," said Prakasam. "It will be similar to what we did this year but in a much more expanded way.”

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Beyond Mythologies Merit Scholarship Winners

Freshmen and Sophomore - Creative Category

1st place - Clayton Prell (Prof. Hart)
2nd place - Sabrina McLaughlin (Prof. Fenton)
3rd place - Gunnar Forstrom and Rob Kangas (Prof. Fenton)

Freshmen and Sophomore- Research Category

1st place - Alyssa Natoci (Prof. Eberle)
2nd place - Ashley Newton (Independent submission)
3rd place – no award

Junior and Senior - Creative Category

1st place - Melissa Boverhof (Prof. Fenton)
2nd place - Ryann Rase (Prof. Fenton)
3rd place - Jon McAfee (Prof. Rockman)

Junior and Senior - Research Category

1st place - Kelsey Hakeem (Prof. Eberle)
2nd place – no award
3rd place – no award

Graduate – Creative category

1st place – no award
2nd place – Ricardo Gonzales (Thesis)
2nd place – Salvador Jimenez-Flores (Thesis)
3rd place – no award

Graduate – Research category

1st place - Ethan Ross (Prof. Kaczmarczyk)
2nd place – no award
3rd place – no award

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