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Local Art for a Whole Heart, Whole Planet

Posted March 19, 2013 in Student

Think global, act local, indeed. To promote awareness about global issues and raise funds for microfinancing loans, Whole Foods recently held a national design contest that brought recognition for one local talent. The design challenge, administered by MySocialCanvas.com, invited students to submit concepts for a t-shirt that would be sold in all Whole Foods locations in the greater New York City area. In addition to seeing their designs printed and sold, the winner would receive a scholarship to the design school of their choice. What the contest organizers didn’t realize at the time is that they would be awarding two scholarships, and one would go to a member of Kendall’s freshman class who has already experienced more of this world than most.

Amar Dzomba spent the first five years of his life in war-torn Bosnia. Amar’s parents escaped the violence of the their native country and brought their family to the United States in search of a better life, settling down in East Lansing, Michigan. There were the typical adjustments to be made in regards to language and culture, but finding a stable, peaceful place to call home was everything the Dzomba’s had hoped for their family.

“It's been quite the experience, and getting adjusted here has thrown some hurdles our way, but overall it has made our family a lot stronger. My parents always stressed that they wanted us to go to college, and that we needed to take advantage of the opportunities presented to us,” Amar remembers. “As I moved through school, I realized that I wanted to pursue graphic design as a career. Initially, I didn't get the greatest response from my family, but it didn't take long for them to realize that this was the best choice for me.”

Amar began his education at last year at Kendall College of Art & Design. Halfway through his first year, he stumbled across a listing for the contest on Zinch.com, where it was listed as an “upcoming deadline.” The good news? The prize was a college scholarship and would bring some attention to the winner. The bad news was the deadline was 24 hours away. With nothing important to do that day, he began concepting ideas and designs immediately, saying “I wanted to challenge myself to work within the time constraint, and the more I kept working on it the more inspired I became.”

Amar talks about his design strategy in simple terms, but it is very mature for a student of his age and experience. “I just sketch out concepts, refine, repeat, and finalize,” Amar explains. “I find that a lot of my inspiration comes from science, math, and technology. The original concept of this design actually had me researching a bit about layers of the earth.”

Making the deadline with mere hours to spare, he left the judges with a very tough decision. Once the field of entries was reviewed, the judges had narrowed it down to two designs, and were not pleased with the prospect of sending either entrant walking away empty-handed, based on the quality of their work. They made an exception and awarded a second scholarship, and will print both winning designs on canvas bags instead of t-shirts, since the medium is more appropriate for the artwork selected. Soon, shoppers in New York stores will be able to make a positive change by purchasing Amar’s design, which has become a great source of pride for the young man.

In addition to his coursework at Kendall, Amar is working at Kendall’s branch of the Material ConneXion library, housed in the Historic Federal Building, which provides access to thousands of cutting-edge, modern materials. Students can use the library and incorporate the materials into their own work. Material ConneXion provides Amar with the resources to pursuing his passion for integrating design with math and science. “It allows me to surround myself with an unimaginable amount of new technology and information, and keeps me updated with what is going on in the world of design and science.”

After graduation, Amar plans to use his skills to further bridge the gap between design and science. “I think both disciplines have a lot to learn and gain from each other,” he says. Though he’s finding that the goal is easier said than done, he’s no stranger to overcoming hardship. Soon the world will greatly benefit from his distinct vision for the future, which is no doubt influenced by his unique past. 

~ Patrick Duncan

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