Meet the graduating seniors who still want to ‘Play’

523

“Play” is the title of this year’s annual exhibition put on by class of 2024 graduating art and graphic design students, who are using the word as a verb. The show challenges the notion that playfulness is something that adults outgrow, even as these seniors are moving onto the next chapter of their lives. They want their work to explore a sense of wonder as they grow, with their artist statement reading: “Remember that playfulness is within us all.”

Meet each student behind the show and learn more about what guides their art and what they are looking forward to in the future.

Will Starley, Graphic Design

“Tooty Frooty” by Will Starley

What’s your artistic philosophy?
Anyone can create wonderful works of art despite what one might tell you. Sometimes all one needs is a couple of friends to throw ideas around with and a good starting point to create some beautiful art.

What has been the most impactful piece of art or design you’ve made at Mercer?
“Tooty Frooty” — a cartoon-styled pattern design which received a GDUSA award.

Tell us about a class or professor who has impacted you at Mercer and why?
Illustration with Professor (Tennille) Shuster allowed me to have fun with drawing and developing my style while learning how to do it professionally.

Abby Lynne Sugg, Graphic Design

Abby Sugg wears her Week of Giving shirt. Photo courtesy Abby Sugg

What has been the most impactful piece of art or design you’ve made at Mercer?
One of the most gratifying moments in my artistic journey was the creation of a shirt design for the Mercer Week of Giving, an initiative close to my heart. Witnessing numerous students proudly wearing the shirt around campus served as a poignant reminder of the power of art to foster a sense of community and shared purpose. Seeing my design become a tangible symbol of unity and philanthropy among peers was immensely fulfilling, reinforcing my belief in the potential of art to inspire positive change and meaningful connections within society.

Tell us about a class or professor who has impacted you at Mercer and why?
During my time at Mercer, Erin Lones, director of advancement communications, profoundly influenced my growth and development in the field of marketing and design. As both a mentor and boss, Erin provided invaluable guidance, support and friendship, shaping my professional journey in significant ways. Under Erin’s mentorship, I had the privilege of delving into various aspects of design, including video production, fundraising initiatives and shirt design. Her willingness to introduce me to new challenges and opportunities expanded my skill set and broadened my perspective on the possibilities within the realm of creative communication. I am particularly grateful to Erin for taking a chance on me as a freshman, offering me the role of her first intern. This opportunity not only allowed me to gain hands-on experience but also instilled in me a sense of confidence and determination to excel in my chosen field. Erin’s belief in my potential and her unwavering support throughout my journey at Mercer have left an indelible mark on me, for which I will always be grateful.

What do you want your work in the senior show to represent?
For my contribution to the senior show, I aim to showcase the breadth and diversity of the graphic design field, particularly in areas that may not always receive mainstream recognition. One such area that I’m passionate about is sports creative, which I believe offers a rich and often overlooked terrain for graphic design exploration. In my senior show exhibit, I intend to highlight the intersection of graphic design and sports marketing, focusing specifically on the unique challenges and opportunities presented by the NASCAR industry. Through a series of dynamic and visually engaging posters and a custom-designed card deck, I aim to demonstrate how graphic design can play a pivotal role in capturing the excitement, energy and brand identity of NASCAR. By showcasing my work in this niche area, I hope to shed light on the vast potential of graphic design beyond traditional boundaries, illustrating its ability to thrive in diverse contexts and industries. Through innovative design solutions tailored to the world of sports marketing, I aim to challenge preconceptions and inspire fellow designers to explore new avenues within the field.

Jamison Clark, Art

Jamison Clark’s coloring book, Vehemence, on display at the McEachern Art Center. Photo by Julia Morrison

What do you want your work in the senior show to represent?
I want people to feel their emotions through color. To lay everything out and let everything go and just feel their emotions and not run from them.

Tell us about a class or professor who has impacted you at Mercer and why?
Eric O’Dell is someone who keeps me motivated and makes me want to be a better artist — to keep perfecting my craft!

What has been the most impactful piece of art or design you’ve made at Mercer?
The most impactful piece is the girl that is called “scream” that will be in my coloring book for the senior exhibition on display now. It’s something that I feel and relate to.

Ashley Curtis, Graphic Design

Ashley Curtis’s 3-D printed “Mixopoly” set. Image courtesy Ashley Curtis

What’s your artistic philosophy?
My philosophy is to just have fun with whatever it is I’m making. I also aim to create artwork that invokes a reaction and makes a lasting impact on the audience.

What has been the most impactful piece of art or design you’ve made at Mercer?
My most impactful piece I’ve created was “Mixopoly.” It was a cocktail kit and game set inspired by Monopoly. It started out as a project in packaging design that I continued to build over several months.

What would you like to do one day with your art/design practice?
I would like to design for a museum or gallery after I graduate. In an ideal setting, I would be able to do gallery work as well as graphic design.

Helen O’Dell, Graphic Design

Helen O’Dell with her father and Mercer associate professor, Eric O’Dell. Photo courtesy of Helen O’Dell

What’s your artistic philosophy?
Born, raised and educated in Macon, my designs are driven by community. I strive to connect people through the commonality of design.

Tell us about a class or professor who has impacted you at Mercer and why?
Eric O’Dell has been my most impactful teacher. Being my dad, he has taught me almost everything I know about the world. As a professor, he has shown me how to enjoy art. The fundamentals help, but enjoying the process conveys in the work and has been very beneficial while working on my body of work.

What do you want your work in the senior show to represent?
Through creating classic games, I want to reinvigorate people’s desire to connect with those in their life. I want the games to remind people to take a moment in their lives to move at a slower pace.

Connor Holland, Graphic Design

Connor Holland’s display in “Play.” Photo by Julia Morrison

What do you want your work in the senior show to represent?
I want my work to represent me above all. As a graphic design major, as well as a music minor, I hope that what I create demonstrates a culmination of these disciplines, as well as how they can inform and elevate one another.

What has been the most impactful piece of art or design you’ve made at Mercer?
The most impactful piece of work that I have made at Mercer has been a brand manual that I created through the advanced design course.

What would you like to do one day with your art/design practice?
I am not entirely sure. I would just be fortunate to do work that is fulfilling and that I can be proud of.

Allison Krapf, Graphic Design

Allison Krapf’s poster to combat antisemitism. Image courtesy of Allison Krapf

What’s your artistic philosophy?
To combine my stories in my art. To be able to spread my words with my design. To allow people to see what I see when I write. I want to continue to write and create designs around my words.

What has been the most impactful piece of art or design you’ve made at Mercer?
I’ve made a few, but I think one piece that stands out has to be a poster I made. I created a Star of David in negative space through words, using things I’ve heard, seen or experienced. This created a textured poster showing anti-Semitism. The shape from afar made people come closer to read all the writing.

What do you want your work in the senior show to represent?
First, I want to represent how far I’ve come. In each piece, I want to represent different things. For “The Life of Ned Carlson,” I want it to feel like someone is reading a person’s journal and be able to see the timeline of his life. For “The Lights Shine So Bright,” I want it to show the progression of my writing and see a part of my culture and religion for others to experience. For “The Seasons of Life,” I want people to feel like they’re holding a storybook with scrapbook elements, in order to see the whimsy of the 3D elements and to feel like they’re stepping into two stories.

 

Do you have a story idea or viewpoint you'd like to share with The Den?
Get in touch with us by emailing den@mercer.edu or submitting this online form.