Department of Art participates in One Million Bones project

October 16th, 2012 Comments Off on Department of Art participates in One Million Bones project

“Bones” made by Department of Art students. (Photo by Adrienne Callander)

(Story by STEVEN NALLEY | Starkville Daily News)

In the spring, Washington D.C.’s National Mall will be covered in bones.

Every clay artwork bone created in “A Path Forward,” a fundraising challenge offered by the Students Rebuild initiative, will do more than generate a $1 donation to help rebuild lives torn by genocide in Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The bones themselves will become part of the One Million Bones project, an art installation on the National Mall aimed at calling the federal government to act against genocide.

Mississippi State University hosted one opportunity for volunteers to make bones for the project Wednesday at South Hall, and it will host two more opportunities in the coming weeks: one from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 27 in a conference room on South Hall’s fourth floor, and another from 7-10 p.m. Nov. 27 in the Colvard Student Union Ballroom.

Antoinette Jenkins, a senior at MSU, is the One Million Bones state coordinator for Mississippi, and she said every site coordinator is responsible for 7,000 bones.

Volunteers are allowed to make bones of all types from the clay provided, she said, and a contributor can also have a bone made in his or her name in exchange for a $5 donation.

“Each bone is a universal symbol of someone’s life that has been lost as a result of genocide,” Jenkins said. “We are so blessed to live in America where we don’t have to worry about someone going outside our house and shooting. When I looked on the website to see what (One Million Bones is) about, I instantly wanted to be involved.”

Jenkins said she intends to reach out beyond MSU to reach the 7,000-bone goal, finishing by Jan. 17. Wednesday was the first major bone-making event she has hosted, she said, but other organizations on campus made bones before then, and any organization can contact her about making bones at or

“I’ve reached out to every major university in Mississippi, but there are several community colleges that are interested in helping out with the program as well,” Jenkins said. “I’m also going to try to do this at the junior high (schools) and middle schools throughout Mississippi. We already have some interest from the high school here and the junior high (school).”

Jenkins said she is grateful for the support network that has already built around her branch of One Million Bones. S&W Storage donated two storage units for completed bones, she said, and Dandy Doodles donated the use of its kiln to bake the clay.

The MSU art department has also expressed interest in letting Jenkins use its kiln, she said, and the department has already played a significant role in getting students involved. For instance, Adrienne Callander, an art professor at MSU, came with several art students to Wednesday’s volunteer event.

“I thought it would be a really good opportunity to have a hands-on art-making experience outside the classroom that was socially significant,” Callander said. “Anything that’s going to raise awareness and potentially slow genocidal movements is worthwhile.”

Callander said One Million Bones is not only activism, but also a work of art, and she likes the fact that its creators do not have to be artists in the traditional sense to partake.

“If you think of art as a vehicle for communicating ideas, there you have it,” Callander said. “In this case, you have an idea that is political and pacifist. Plus, it seems like the visual impact of the project is something that can reach far more people than, say, a congressional paper on the subject.”

One of Callander’s students, Kaylie Mitchell, said Callander presented One Million Bones as a voluntary assignment, but the cause was strong enough to attract her on its own. Mitchell encourages others to join the project, she said, and her favorite part of One Million Bones is its hands-on nature.

“Instead of signing a petition or throwing in a dollar,” Mitchell said, “creating something with your hands is so much more meaningful for a cause than passive ways of funding it.”

Read the story by Hillary LaPlatney at The Reflector.

Art alumnus talks with design students about lessons learned in life and work

October 15th, 2012 Comments Off on Art alumnus talks with design students about lessons learned in life and work

Ben Jenkins left the students with some advice, “You suck at design, man.” He went on to explain that getting good at design takes time and that he only just recently considered himself to be good.

Ben Jenkins, a 1996 alumnus of the Department of Art at Mississippi State and a former baseball player, was back in Starkville recently for a baseball alumni event.

Jenkins, founder of OneFastBuffalo, which develops brand strategy and brand design for companies and products, spoke to a group of graphic design students on Oct. 12.  He shared with them a little about who he is and what he does and the somewhat unconventional method of how he works and also gave his advice for students and shared some of his recent work.

The alumnus credited his three boys – eight, six and three – with helping him to get his life together. In fact, he said he didn’t really even consider himself a graphic designer until one of his sons showed him a picture he drew of his dad working at a computer, “a designer who only designs hawks,” as his son described with pride.  Jenkins said it was then he first realized, “That’s what I am. I’m a graphic designer,” and he said it also took him that long to actually consider himself to be a good designer, too.

Jenkins shared a little about his background and how he got to where he is now in life.

After graduation, Jenkins played minor league baseball for the Phillies.  He said it was probably the dream life for most of the young guys on the team because they spent a lot of time in hotels just watching TV and hanging out; however, he said, “As a maker, I was bored.”

So, the graphic design alumnus began taking on small jobs not just to fill his time but because he said he was being realistic and knew baseball wasn’t going to be his career.

Jenkins said he would design logos for diners in the small towns he would travel to with the team – for free, a bagel, $50 bucks or whatever he could get.  Jenkins said his current company was born out of that period of time because he learned how to approach people.

Jenkins got his MFA from The Art Institue of Chicago, but when he couldn’t get a job after graduation, he stuck with his freelance work just with a name, OneFastBuffalo.

“Instead of calling myself ‘myself,’ I called myself something else,” he said.  “I branded myself.”

And it paid off.  Immediately, the designer said he was getting paid better and landing better jobs.  After a cycle of taking bad jobs and proving himself to be able to land better jobs, Jenkins eventually ended up exactly where he thought he should be as a designer – in a downtown 8,000-square-foot office in Dallas, Texas, with twenty employees.

The designer said he was good at keeping up with other people and competing. But he realized he was miserable and that he was making others miserable as well.  He said he was out of shape and was so busy selling and getting more work that he wasn’t really even doing what he loved anymore – designing.

So, Jenkins sat down and figured out how to change things up.  He decided to cut down the number of clients he serves and cut out the long processes.  For example, many clients like to have several choices to pick from for a logo, but he said only one – the best – is really necessary.

The alumnus also made the decision to get rid of his office, which was taking up a lot of his time with maintenance, the drive to get there and distractions from employees.

“All of this was just huge blocks of time that weren’t about making,” he said.

So, Jenkins told his employees they could keep working for him, but that they had to do it elsewhere.

He came up with a new company culture, which includes “participation” and “solitude.”  He explained participation as going out into the world and being inspired.

“As a designer, you’re expressing your experiences and the things you’ve seen,” he said.

Solitude comes in when it’s time to get to work, and you don’t want anyone influencing how you how you think or feel.

“I was like … trailer in the woods,” he laughed, and that’s exactly what he did.

Four months out of the year, Jenkins now lives and works out of a 1958 Airstream Travel Trailer with his wife, dog and three kids.

“I can’t think of anything bad about it,” he said, explaining that his work and life are now better.  “It doesn’t matter where I am; my work is communicating and making.  I’m just super happy.”

The designer said he now spends eight hours of every day sleeping, eight hours playing or “participating” and eight hours working.

“It’s all about what’s important to you and what you want to spend time with,” he said.

The designer went on to explain some of his other businesses and partnerships and left the students with some advice, “You suck at design, man.”

He told the students that, though it may not sound like it, this advice is actually meant to be encouraging in the fact that it’s only relative to how good they are going to get.  He said they need to embrace the idea that being good at design takes time.

“I think I’m getting good at it,” he smiled.  “Now take that, and run with it.”

More photos from Jenkins’ visit:

Some of Ben Jenkins’ other ventures:

Jenkins created this company and handed it over to some of his design friends that are native.  The company serves as a native design firm but also has a community side.  Employees go to reservations and talk to kids spread the word about design and art.

Cowboy Chow
This is a restaurant that Jenkins helped start for a friend in exchange for 10% ownership.

Workhaus Lodge
A company Ben Jenkins founded as a co-work space.

Warstick Bat Co.
Jenkins said after all his work branding products, he wanted to create a product of his own.
The company is doing well, but Jenkins said his wife will often remind him when he gets excited about selling a bat for $50 profit that he can sometimes create a logo in an hour and make $8,000.  His response is always, “Yeah , so … I was sleeping when I sold this bat!”
The bat designer went on to explain that creating a product is something he doesn’t get to do with his clients.  He said he loves to see kids get his bats and get excited.
“There’s just something different about this that’s more fulfilling,” he said.

 The Blackline by Treadsmith
A custom snowboard company similar to the idea of Warstick Bat Co.

 A few recent mentions:

Bloomberg Business Weekly on Sept. 27, 2012
The Airstream Office
By Peter Savodnik

GQ Magazine
Best Stuff of the Year 2011

Bat Crazy.  Local graphic designer Ben Jenkins is bringing some swagger
to your baseball swing.
By pete freedman
August 2012

Head of the Department of Art presents solo exhibit at Delaware State

October 15th, 2012 Comments Off on Head of the Department of Art presents solo exhibit at Delaware State

Lydia Thompson’s ceramic, wood and paint work “Return 360, Nesting” is one of the pieces on display in her current exhibition in the DSU Arts Center/Gallery.

Department of Art Head Lydia Thompson will present new work in solo exhibition, Roots, Connections and Pathways, at the Arts Center/Gallery at Delaware State University in Dover, Del.

The exhibit will be held through Nov. 9 and is a 14-piece exhibition, a combination of ceramic sculptures and collage works, that reflects an examination of organic formations.

Thompson notes that the presenting artwork is also a reminder of the physical process of reduction made by nature; animals and human beings create pathways that define migration patterns.

“Agricultural objects in my work speak subtly to the notion of valued commodities, which determine also insights into one’s cultural traditions,” Thompson said.

Thompson’s current research investigates various geographic landscapes and how natural resources impact culture and social practices in the surrounding communities.

The head of the Department of Art at Mississippi State will visit the DSU campus from Oct. 16-19 and will add an onsite installation piece to the exhibition at that time.

A combination gallery discussion and reception will be held on Oct. 18, and Thompson will also present a guest lecture to DSU Department of Art students and provide some critiques of their works during her visit.

Adrienne Callander’s work featured in Kentucky gallery

October 11th, 2012 Comments Off on Adrienne Callander’s work featured in Kentucky gallery

Mitten 1 | Adrienne Callander

Mitten 2 | Adrienne Callander

Adrienne Callander, lecturer in the Department of Art, is part of an exhibit at the Huff Gallery at Spalding University in Louisville, Ky.

The show, titled With Child: Art & Parenting, opens Oct. 15 and runs through December.

Patty Guardiola explains the show in the forward below:
“The artist Pablo Picasso supposedly once commented that, “It took me four years to paint like Raphael but a lifetime to paint like a child.” We can assume that such a statement refers not to the literal act of drawing shapes or finger painting, as a child might, but instead refers to the artistic freedom that occurs when a creative adult has stopped emulating others and has begun to understand the internal childlike drive to explore. The pieces in this show, With Child, were made by the hands of women and men who are artists and teachers, but who have been challenged, informed and enriched by the responsibilities of new parenthood. Their works express the parent/child bond, an effectual connection that pushes these artists to create and engage the world around them through not only their own senses, but also through the powerful sensitivities of their children.”

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