CCAD Serves the City

November 14th, 2011 by IMAGE Magazine
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At CCAD, it goes without saying that creativity is everywhere. But just having great ideas isn’t enough— each student artist and designer also learns that his or her creative skills have a role to play out in the real world. It all starts as early as freshman year.

Students designing puppets.

Puppets in the Hospital
When one of the nation’s leading pediatric hospitals needs to brighten their patients’ days, who do they call? Lion, Unicorn, Duck, Bunny, Jake the Snake, and Viktor the Rapping Viking—all puppets created and voiced by CCAD students from Adjunct Instructor Nicole Gibbs’s Foundation Studies design class.

During spring semester, Gibbs’s students wrote, created puppets, and built sets for a series of four plays, culminating in performances on Mother’s Day to patients and their families at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

The class is a yearlong, intensive look at all types of design, including 2D, 3D, and time-based. “I was thinking about how we could make the 2D side of the class about performance and group experience,” Gibbs says. “So I thought of puppet shows, because they bring it all together and allow my students to flex their other creative muscles—like writing and rapping.”

“Each team had a playwright, musician, actors, production manager, and character designers,” she says. “Everyone helped with every aspect, but it was the responsibility of the assigned individual to make sure a particular aspect was carried out properly. It was a great lesson in working in groups and managing a team to meet an outside goal.”

“I knew that having it out in the community would push students outside of their comfort zone, because they would be interacting with people who not only don’t have an art background but also are outside [the students’] age range,” Gibbs adds. “The point wasn’t to build sets and make puppets. It was to create a valuable experience for the outside community and to show students that what they are already learning in their first year of college can have a direct impact.”

Fountain in the Scioto Mile.

Video in the Scioto Mile
CCAD Media Studies students and faculty were thrilled to be invited early this year to produce a video for projection on an enormous fountain in the city’s newest park, the Scioto Mile. “Projects like this expand the traditional perceived boundaries of media,” says Dean of Media Arts Ron Saks. “To be able to do something that is public, ongoing, and site specific is a very rare opportunity for students.”

The Scioto Mile is a more-than-$40-million project that has transformed the east bank of the Scioto River in downtown Columbus. Contrary to its name, it actually stretches for 7.3 miles and includes an integrated system of parks, streets, a bikeway, pedestrian paths, fountains, and gardens. The final phase, completed last summer, features a promenade dotted with gardens, colonnades, and pavilions. This summer’s work also overhauled an existing park, adding a band shell, a restaurant, and the 15,000-square-foot interactive fountain that the students’ video projection was intended to complement.

Opened to the public in July, the fountain has already become a community favorite. It contains 1,079 ground-level spray nozzles and is topped by 5 stainless-steel halo structures with 1,000 additional nozzles to produce mist from above. The tall, stainless-steel center blossom can shoot water 70 feet into the air.

The finished CCAD video, titled “Trip the Light Fantastic,” now bounces off the fountain’s blossom and mist at night.

“It is really tremendous to have students participating in a project of this magnitude,” says Saks. “All of the constituents were so pleased with the way everything turned out. It was beyond everyone’s expectations.”

CCAD students from all majors have been asked to create another projection during this academic year as part of a competition. Saks is currently working with American Electric Power (the community leader and lead donor for the Scioto Mile) and the design firm MSI (who directed the project) to bring software to campus that will allow students to design a light show and fountain program in addition to the video projection. The winning projection is slated to launch in early spring.

Sustainability in Regional Planning
Students from numerous CCAD classes teamed up last spring to create the Sustainability Art Exhibition and Contest for the headquarters of the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC)—ground zero for issues of sustainability in the greater Columbus community. The students submitted diverse work related to one of the six programs of MORPC’s Center for Energy and Environment: energy efficiency, air quality, greenways and water quality, sustainable growth, agriculture and food systems, and materials management.

Contest winners had their work displayed again at MORPC’s Summit on Sustainability and the Environment in October.

“Not only did it get the students creating work and exhibiting it to an outside audience, but it also  introduced them to the important efforts of MORPC,” says Fine Arts Professor John Kortlander.

“I believe we are now entering the era of redesign,” he adds. “Much of what was designed in the past century was done without sustainability in mind. It is up to our students to take their degrees and create sustainable designs and works of art that improve the world. It’s a big responsibility—and projects like this are what get them thinking about it.”

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Published in print twice a year, CCAD’s IMAGE magazine shares stories about our creative community, whether here in Columbus or around the world—what we’re doing, thinking, and planning next. The IMAGE blog brings those stories online for transmission at the click of a mouse.

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