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DECEMBER 19, 2007    

It's what you make it

This semester the Intro to Visuol Communication students used their owns thoughts and words as the basis for their final project. In past semesters I've usually had them find a quote from some famous—or not—person to interpret. This was an experiment to see if using their own ideas would translate into better projects. Based on what both classes did I'd say it's a success.

The final project can be tough for students. After spending a whole semester doing weekly assignments with very specific and limited options (use only 2" black squares on an 8" x 8" white background to express the emotion anger) this project is wide open. They can use any medium or technique as long as it's 1) visual, 2) based on their own words and images and 3) includes at least some of the words as part of the piece.

For some students this complete freedom is scarey. They don't know what to do. It can be unsettling and exhilarating. We've had posters, photos, sculptures, dioramas, tables, games, baseballs, t-shirts, videos, websites, even dance performances. This year's batch of projects was across the board stronger than in almost any previous class. There are usually 2-3 that are just frankly kind of lame. But not this year. All were decent, most were far better.

Play Doh people dressed in different costumesThe one I've shown here is deceptively thoughtful. I looked at it and saw cute little people dressed differently, showing different types of success (what is success was the theme).

When I asked Marc why he chose Play Doh I thought maybe it's because it was easy to get and had the right size and shape to make cute little people. Actually he used Play Doh because his point is that success is what you make it. With Play Doh you can reach in, take it out, and actually make something of your own. He was very clear that he wanted this "audience participation" in the piece.

He also pointed out that if you look inside there's not blue and yellow and green Play Doh, but they're all the same purplish color inside. Just like people are the same inside, he pointed out.

Last week we had a success First Aid Kit, this week it's Play Doh. Success is looking better and better.

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