EPA raingarden ribbon cutting marks observation of Earth Day at MSU

April 27th, 2017 Comments Off on EPA raingarden ribbon cutting marks observation of Earth Day at MSU

(Photos by Megan Bean | Mississippi State University)By Vanessa Beeson | Mississippi State University

Three cross-college departments commemorated a new raingarden at the university with a ribbon cutting Friday [April 21] in observation of Earth Day. The raingarden is located in the courtyard of the landscape architecture facility on the Starkville campus.

Landscape architecture students in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences built the garden, funded by a $20,000 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency grant to create a green infrastructure training and demonstration project. Those also contributing to the project include graphic design and engineering students, as well as the MSU facilities management department.

Mississippi State University President Mark E. Keenum spoke about the importance of sustainability at the ceremony.

“I am so pleased to see so many students who took an active role in leading this effort to make a difference. Having a wonderful raingarden to demonstrate the sustainability of water is something we are all going to learn from for years to come,” Keenum said. “Our university must address critical challenges like this for the future and instill in our younger generations knowledge of how to develop innovative solutions.”

Cory Gallo, associate professor in the Department of Landscape Architecture, said the raingarden manages one-fourth of the building’s rainwater runoff, but the project’s main purpose is to serve as an educational showpiece that teaches students, faculty and the broader community about green infrastructure technologies.

“The focus of this is really about education. This is the most comprehensive raingarden demonstration project in Mississippi and perhaps even in the Southeast. I don’t know of any that communicate what a raingarden does as well as this one,” Gallo said.

The raingarden’s focal piece is a 2,000 gallon cistern that collects rainwater and directs excess water into a 1,500-square-foot bioretention basin where it is managed with soil and plants. The raingarden is a sustainable water management demonstration in three steps — conveyance, storage and management. As water comes off the roof, it goes into the cistern for storage and then into the garden. Once in the garden, the water is cooled, filtered, absorbed and delayed.

Gallo explained the effects of the process.

“If you come here a day or two after it rains, you’ll hear water making its way into the basin because that’s how much water flow has been slowed down. When there is less water, it becomes much slower and takes more time, and it’s cleaner and cooler as it comes through. It’s an audible experience,” he said.

In previous semesters, landscape architecture students installed the basin in addition to surrounding benches. Part of that previous work included collaboration with the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering in the Bagley College of Engineering. Civil engineering students completed water quality testing prior to construction as part of the preliminary work.

“This is one of the most amazing projects where landscape architects, graphic designers and civil engineers worked together marching toward environmental sustainability. It is a win-win situation for all involved,” said Veera Gnaneswar Gude, assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Environment Engineering.

Graphic design students from the College of Architecture, Art and Design also worked alongside landscape architecture students to develop informational graphics to communicate the project’s purpose in an effective, concise manner.

Both landscape architecture and graphic design students enrolled in a cross-college collaborative course were tasked with designing, creating and installing the cistern; building out the garden; and developing, creating and implementing the demonstration component.

Suzanne Powney, assistant professor in the Department of Art, discussed how that hands-on collaboration, especially the opportunity for graphic design students to assist in the construction of the garden, resulted in a better design. She said while the work was challenging at times, the students took it in stride and did an incredible job.

“All of the students worked really hard. I am very proud of them,” she said. “This is a permanent structure they can come back to years in the future and say, ‘I built this.’”

In addition to Friday’s ribbon cutting, students also participated in a ceremonial first planting in the new MSU Community Garden immediately adjacent to the raingarden. Graphic design students contributed to this garden with a wall graphic, numbering system on the planters and educational graphic explaining when to plant various crops.

For more information, visit MSU’s Department of Landscape Architecture online at lalc.msstate.edu; the College of Architecture, Art and Design at caad.msstate.edu; and the Bagley College of Engineering at bagley.msstate.edu. The Water Resources Research Institute, housed at Mississippi State, facilitated the raingarden project’s grant and budget.

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at www.msstate.edu.

Read more in Alumnus magazine.

‘Alumnus’ magazine features letterpress

January 8th, 2015 Comments Off on ‘Alumnus’ magazine features letterpress

photo by Megan Bean | MSU

photo by Megan Bean | MSU

By Victoria Russell

Standing in a small art studio surrounded by the aroma of ink, a woman carefully loads carved and metal plates into an antique-looking machine. Beautiful prints emerge, and she handles them with care to add to the colorful display in the studio.

Three years ago Suzanne Powney, an assistant professor in the Mississippi State art department, brought the oldest method of printing to the university—the letterpress, a relief surface that is inked, then printed onto paper.

“In today’s society anyone can make a smooth print from the computer,” said Powney. “The letterpress is a learned process to make tactile designs directly with skill and dedication.”

At Mississippi State, the letterpress is specific to the graphic design program. Letterpresses are used to print textured designs, generally on invitations or posters, and these kinds of prints were common throughout the country until the 1960s when society moved to offset printing.

However, a few artists around the country saved letterpresses because of their ability to produce unique, tactile images.

Its materials are extremely rare and expensive, due to their near extinction in the 1960s, but Mississippi State is one of two universities in the state with a letterpress. Many of the wood type, metal type, linoleum carving and photopolymer plates used for the letterpress at MSU were donated by the Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum in Jackson. Powney allows students to develop prints using her personal collection of letterpress plates.

During the fall and spring semesters, only graphic design students may use the letterpress, but a class on letterpress techniques is offered to all students during the summer sessions. Powney also allows former students to continue using the letterpress and its plates whenever they like.

At Mississippi State, the letterpress is used for more than just grades in a classroom. This past summer, students submitted their work to a local business, The Biscuit Shop, to be used as design decorations on the walls. Students also make work to sell to the public.

“It takes creativity, patience and diligence to produce a work of art through the plates of the letterpress by combining three art processes to make a final product,” said Powney.

The art of letterpress takes time to do each process perfectly, but the skill developed and the final outcome makes it all worthwhile. Powney said that the quote in the letterpress room by non-fiction writer Scott Adams is the key to being successful with letterpress—“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.”

Senior graphic design ‘Hipsters’ hold exhibit reception

December 5th, 2014 Comments Off on Senior graphic design ‘Hipsters’ hold exhibit reception

(photo by Allie Salas)

(photo by Allie Salas)

A reception was held on Dec. 2, 2014 in McComas Hall for the senior graphic design exhibit, “Just a Bunch of Hipsters.”

Fall 2014 MSU Graphic Design BFA Senior Exhibit opens Dec. 2

November 25th, 2014 Comments Off on Fall 2014 MSU Graphic Design BFA Senior Exhibit opens Dec. 2

MSU Hipsters

(By Mary Katherine Kitchens | MSU graphic design senior)

The Mississippi State University Graphic Design Senior BFA Portfolio Exhibit’s theme is ‘Just a Bunch of Hipsters.’ The public is invited to a reception honoring these talented students beginning at 5 p.m. on Tues., Dec. 2 in McComas Hall. Fourteen students have a variety of portfolio work to be displayed throughout the week. Exhibited work includes: web design, posters, illustrations, packaging, editorial design, typeface design, advertising design, identity design, self-promotional materials and more. The students’ final portfolio books will be on display the night of the reception. Visit the senior portfolio website www.msuhipsters.com for a sneak peek.

Along with amazing design work, there will be refreshments served. City Bagel will be catering finger foods and coffee.

The show is open to the public from Dec. 2 –8, 2014 in the Department of Art Gallery in McComas Hall.

To promote the opening of the show, the students have taken part in a photo shoot that embraced the stereotypical roles of being a hipster that most artists are labeled with. As the opening approaches the photos have been sporadically released along with a small description about the students’ design style.

The fourteen hipsters are as follows:
Alyce Calkins
Ocean Springs
Alyce is a fun–loving energetic designer who loves to explore color and textures. She enjoys incorporating various different patterns in her designs.

Kimberly Davis
Kim loves design because any object she sees can spark a new design idea, and she gets to communicate that with the world. Her work is very experimental, and she loves trying new techniques and using various materials to create her ideal design.

Austin Edwards
Austin’s design is most influenced by simple geometry, bold colors and alternative print processes such as letterpress, screenprinting and vinyl.

McRae Hopper
McRae would rather be outside because he is inspired by nature and spending time outdoors. He enjoys working with his hands whether it is screenprinting or woodworking.

Mary Katherine Kitchens
New Albany
Mary Katherine loves to incorporate hand–drawn illustrative elements into her work as well as experimenting with overlays and textures. She is also inspired by installation art that exceeds the standard norms of design so that it has to involve the viewer.

Colten McMickens
Oak Grove, AL
Colten enjoys digital and traditional illustration but prefers fantasy illustration. Colten wishes to work as a concept artist for video games and movies.

Kelsey Ann Moore
Akron, OH
Kelsey likes hand lettering and illustrations. She enjoys making patterns with simple shapes. She is inspired by an earth tone color palette that can be seen reflected in her work.

Carley Robertson
Memphis, TN
Carley’s design style is a mixture of hand made and simple, clean elements. She enjoys incorporating vintage style with modern designs.

Cissy Rowland
Cissy is inspired by Walt Disney’s quote, “if you can dream it, you can do it.” She is a designer and an artist, but first and foremost, a dreamer and that is all that needs to be said.

Victoria Strayham
Victoria has been told her work is happy and uplifting. She tries to blend graphics with illustrations to create a crafty down to earth design.

Katja Walter
Wasserburg am Bodensee, Germany
Katja’s designs are usually very clean and simple, often based on grids. She loves to work with typography, illustrations and textures to create beautiful, versatile and unique designs.

Rachel Lynn Weed
Rachel loves design because it always presents a new challenge and a new problem to solve. Her design is quirky, hand–drawn, and at times, a little girly.

Carlyse Williams
Birmingham, AL
Carlyse’s design style leans on the more modern side of design or as some of her friends say, “futuristic.” She always uses a good bit of color if she hasn’t snuck a gradient in somewhere in her work.

Chelbie Williamson
Chelbie’s design style is inspired by Lindon Leader’s quote, “I strive for two things in design, simplicity and clarity. Great design is born of those two things.” She was drawn to design because it can and is done on everything even though it’s not always noticed because it should remain transparent.


The galleries are open from Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m.–4 p.m. For more information, contact the Department of Art at 662.325.2970.

The MSU graphic design program is in the Department of Art within the College of Architecture, Art and Design. In August of 2009, the program was featured in an article and name one of HOW Magazine’s three design schools that “should be on your radar.” For more information on the graphic design program, contact Jamie Burwell Mixon, graphic design coordinator at 662.325.2970.

The MSU graphic design program continues to mold its students into excellent designers and prepares them for life after college. This semester of students is no different and has an abundance of exciting work they can’t wait to share with you!

Read the story on MSU’s website and on WCBI.com.

Barn Trail kickoff to be held Oct. 18

October 16th, 2014 Comments Off on Barn Trail kickoff to be held Oct. 18

During the just-concluded spring semester, a group of MSU students were part of a service-learning art project to design and paint an eight-foot-square wooden barn quilt. Among group members were (l-r) Brooke Rankins, Katy Coleman and Sydney Armer. Photo by: Megan Bean

During the spring 2013 semester, MSU art students were part of a service-learning art project to design and paint an eight-foot-square wooden barn quilt. Among group members were (l-r) Brooke Rankins, Katy Coleman and Sydney Armer. Photo by: Megan Bean

Mississippi State University art students in Assistant Professors Suzanne Powney and Neil Callander’s classes have been hard at work since last semester helping the Starkville Area Arts Council with the Barn Quilt Trail program in the area.

The kickoff for the Barn Quilt Trail will be held this Sat., Oct. 18 at the Oktibbeha County Heritage Museum at 5:30 p.m. along with a blues concert.

For more information about the Barn Quilt Trail, visit http://www.barnquiltinfo.com/


Service learning class works on solutions for clients

May 6th, 2014 Comments Off on Service learning class works on solutions for clients

photo by Suzanne Powney

photo by Suzanne Powney

Assistant Professor Suzanne Powney’s service learning class has been working on solutions for a variety of clients this semester. Projects have ranged from print, packaging and environmental design.

Recently, the group presented a project organized through CASLE with April Heiselt, associate professor and director, who partnered the class with Joel Downey from Habitat for Humanity and Vicki Burnett from Starkville Area Arts Council quilt trail initiative.

The class was directed to make a stronger presence for the Habitat Warehouse through a mural installation and to help make their mission and hours known throughout the community.

They also were asked to design a quilt square that will be a part of the Oktibbeha County Barn Quilt Trail. (Watch the video on WCBI here for more info about the Barn Quilt Trail.)

The students enjoyed the project and explored media and history of the community to address this service learning project.

Research and thoughts were recorded in a project journal, and the implementation phase for the quilt square was a great bonding experience for the students.

Students in the class included:
Abbey Barker
Lauren Blalock
Dupree Bostic
Alyce Calkins
Ashley Coulter
Austin Edwards
Shannon Hill
Cameron McMaster
June Upton
TJ Vaught
Katja Walter
Chelbie Williams


Designer and Field Notes inventor Aaron Draplin to speak at Mississippi State

January 23rd, 2014 Comments Off on Designer and Field Notes inventor Aaron Draplin to speak at Mississippi State

Poster credit: recent MSU graphic design alumus Robbie Richardson

Poster credit: recent MSU graphic design alumus Robbie Richardson

On January 30, Aaron James Draplin of the Draplin Design Co. will present to the College of Architecture, Art and Design in the Robert and Freda Harrison Auditorium in Giles Hall from 6 to 8 p.m. The lecture is being presented by the Department of Art and the AIGA Student Chapter.

Draplin, a designer and inventor of Field Notes, will speak about his “cosmic wit and wisdom on design,” during his only tour stop in Mississippi this year.

A social will be held at 6 p.m. in Giles Hall before the lecture, and “Tall Tales with a Large Man : Aaron Draplin” will begin at 6:30 in the auditorium.

From AIGA: “Using scientific proof and state-of-the-art multimedia techniques, Aaron James Draplin of the Draplin Design Co. delivers a suckerpunch of a talk that aims to provide bonafide proof of work, the highs and lows of a ferociously independent existence and a couple tall tales from his so-called career in the cutthroat world of contemporary graphic design. Just a regular American guy with a trajectory a little dirtier than yours, his talk is open to all oncomers brave enough to show up. If you are a youngster, you may find yourself inspired to attack your design future in a different way. If you are established, you may just leave feeling grateful you don’t have anything to do with him. Hard to say. All champion citizens are invited to attend!”

The event page boasts, “Let’s just say that Draplin is a colorful speaker whose passion for design and the work ethic of the American Midwest and its history shows though in abundance. Once you hear him speak, you will leave the premises fired up to create and make cool things.”

Join us, and bring your Field Notes cahiers to get signed!

Department of Art holds summer camp

June 19th, 2013 Comments Off on Department of Art holds summer camp

The 2013 In-Vision MSU Summer Art Program campers and instructors

The 2013 In-Vision MSU Summer Art Program campers and instructors stand in front of an installation the campers created using Post-It notes.

Check out the story by Margaret Kovar on MSU’s website!

The Department of Art held its first session of a visual arts summer program, In-Vision, from June 7 through 14. The overnight camp, intended for high school students age 16 and up, is meant to expose students to majors and careers in the studio fields of art and design.

Six students spent the week at Mississippi State learning from art professors Jonathan Cumberland, Suzanne Powney, Robert Long and John Paul Remo. Along with working in a variety of media, including drawing, painting, graphic design, printmaking and clay, students got to meet with professionals from the visual arts field to learn more about career opportunities. The program is unique because it introduces students to materials and tools they would not normally use in other camps or at school. Lori Neuenfeldt served a camp coordinator, and Lorrin Webb was the student assistant who conducted the camp’s evening activities.

Workshops included:
Observational Drawing Workshop 1: Perspective
Three Dimensional Design
Observational Drawing Workshop 2: Geometric Deconstruction
Three Dimensional Design
Design Fundamentals
Observational Drawing Workshop 3: Anatomy/Figure
Drawing & Inking: Comic Strip
Computing Arts Photoshop
Poster Design Graphics

Students also went on a field trip to the Sam D. Hamilton Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge to study color and theory during an outdoor watercolor workshop.

An exhibition was held on the final day to showcase the students’ work.

Click here for more information about In-Vision.

Art faculty present summer exhibit

May 15th, 2013 Comments Off on Art faculty present summer exhibit

It's What I Do_51
The Department of Art faculty have an exhibit open through June in the Cullis Wade Depot Gallery: It’s What I Do.

Read more on MSU’s website.

New faculty hold panel to share about their work

January 17th, 2013 Comments Off on New faculty hold panel to share about their work

On January 16, the four new faculty members in the Department of Art participated in a panel discussion moderated by Dr. Ben Harvey. Adrienne Callander, Neil Callander, Gregory Martin and Suzanne Powney each briefly discussed their work before the floor was opened up for questions. According to Lori Neuenfeldt, programs coordinator for the Visual Arts Center Gallery, the panel was set up as a way for students and current faculty to meet the new faculty and learn about their work.

Harvey said he has had a chance to view his new colleagues’ work in the gallery in McComas Hall, which will be up until February 23.

“We are lucky to have this kind of talent in Starkville,” he said, before introducing the first new faculty member, Adrienne Callander.

Adrienne Callander
Callander holds a Master of Fine Arts from Rutgers University and is the Department of Art’s most recent hire as a lecturer in 2D Design and Art Appreciation. She described her current body of work, “Ball Series,” to involve a conversation with the people she receives the materials from.

“I remember how it all began,” she said. She first got the idea for this while in graduate school at Rutgers. When observing a painting of a sweater, she thought about how it was really a 3D drawing and, “in theory, you should be able to deconstruct it,” she said.

Now, 21 deconstructed sweaters later, Callander joked, “If you bring me a sweater, I’ll add it.”

Callander even deconstructed a friend’s entire sea foam halter wedding dress.

“That was complicated because this was something of great value to her; I didn’t want to disappoint her,” she said. “The piece itself is an action. I received the dress. I altered it, and I’m going to send it back to her.”

Other pieces in Callander’s “Ball Series” include a piece that honors her father, who passed away in 2007, and a piece she explained to be her conversation with painting ­– her mother was a painter, and she is married to a painter.

Neil Callander
Next, Callander’s “painter” husband, Neil Callander, was introduced. Neil Callander also holds an MFA from Rutgers University and is the Foundations Coordinator for the Department of Art. His current body of work revolves around a fictional character, “Dusty,” as imagined by his now-six-year-old son when he was two.

The paintings are done from direct observation in his studio. Neil Callander said he is unapologetically still life painting.

He said if you remove the cliché fruits and vases from still life and think about “what’s possible when you set up anything in the world and freeze it, I don’t see it as boring at all but full of potential.”

Neil Callander tries to set up items in the studio quickly, so they look like they are pulled from someone’s life.

“They exist naturally in the world of Dusty, and I recreate them in the studio.”

The artist described his paintings to be like “choose-your-own-adventure books” in that “you can go back to them, and they constantly reveal themselves in different ways.” He showed a zoomed-in image of one of his paintings to further illustrate this thought, and explained that perceptions may change based on one’s mood, the time of day and/or the lighting.

Neil Callander ended his lecture by telling about how a colleague once reacted to one of his paintings by telling him it made her want to throw up.

“I took it as one of the best compliments that I could imagine – that a painting could have that sort of reaction!”

Gregory Martin
Gregory Martin said Neil Callander’s work hasn’t had that kind of reaction, yet, for him.

“But I’ll give it a chance and see how it goes,” he joked.

Martin, who was born and raised in southern California, recently drove 2,000 miles from Venice, Calif., to start a position as assistant professor of Drawing and Design at MSU. He holds an MFA from Claremont Graduate School.

“The disconnect and relationship between people’s ideals and the reality they live” is a major theme in his work.

Martin described some more of the influences place has had on his work and encouraged everyone to go to the gallery to see the work. He said artists often have a hard time in the spotlight, talking about their work.

“We sort of want the attention to be on that neat thing we made,” he laughed.

Martin said he was attracted to MSU by the fairly large pool of faculty doing good work, and he hopes to build on that while he is here.

Suzanne Powney
Suzanne Powney has been a graphic designer since 1995 but said she discovered the world of letterpress when she got frustrated with the lack of texture in graphic design.

“It has become a part of me; it feeds my soul,” the professor of Letterpress, Graphic Design and Advertising with an MFA from the University of Houston said.

Powney’s work in the exhibit includes three books resting on tables that float. She said she wanted to create an intimate space where visitors could engage with the work on a very intimate level. In fact, all Powney’s books are meant to be touched, and she hopes visitors will interact with them.

“Poke” consists of a series of circles. Powney said people are supposed to use a stylus to poke through to see where the paper gives, and eventually words will emerge from the pattern.

“Stroke” is a series of words and graphics, “thousands of dots referring to thousands of neurons – how we physically observe the idea of touch.”

Powney said “Trace” requires interaction to find what the message is.

The overall theme in her work is “how touch is important to who we are as humans.”

“I’m hoping this feeds you with some thoughts,” she said.

Harvey and the audience next had a chance to ask the artists several questions about their work and connections between their work.

The artists will all be present at the opening reception of the exhibit, New Associations, on Jan. 24 from 5:30–7:30 in the Department of Art Gallery in McComas Hall, to answer more questions.

You are currently browsing entries tagged with Suzanne Powney at Department of Art News.