An exhibit featuring the Master of Arts Thesis works of Kim Cao Pfeffer opened Monday in Minnesota State’s Conkling Gallery.
The title for the exhibition: “What does a Rooster Say?” It is not a traditional art gallery but is instead referred to as a design show.
Pfeffer moved from Vietnam to Mankato in 2016. Formerly a math educator, she switched her major to art education, where she earned her degree and teaching license. She later came back for another year to finish her BFA in graphic design and stayed to continue with her master’s in graphic design.
She described her process as a system of solving problems, such as figuring out a challenge within its context of culture, history, or environment.
“So first, I have to look for problems, things that have issues, and then come up with a solution to solve that,” she said. “The main idea for the entire show is about redesigning textbooks for Vietnamese first graders.”
Her decided challenge was textbook changes. She shared the conflicts that changes in new textbooks have created, and took inspiration from old Vietnamese textbooks. She designed a textbook called “Em và Tiếng Việt”.
“Current textbooks are not good but the very, very old textbooks work well, so the super old textbooks became my inspiration for the art style. It’s based on Vietnamese traditional woodblock print.” Pfeffer said. “We already have a textbook system, but it’s not friendly for kids to read. They are just very overwhelmed with the design and the curriculum, so I just want to make everything more simple and basic.”
With the textbook she has created that aims to provide better visuals and content, Pfeffer expresses hope that the textbook designs she has created can present a solution to the challenge and can be proven beneficial.
“So the kids can read by themselves and the other pieces are all teaching as I have a background in art education. I designed the poster and then I have a gameboard. So when kids study spelling, they can apply it and use it in the gameboard I designed.” Pfeffer said. “When we teach Vietnamese and for this show, it is more about teaching spelling for first graders. So usually what you’re saying when teaching spelling, you go from ABCD in order of the alphabet, but I want to teach them in a way that they see one letter and they come by with the next letter. So knowing the letter is going to appear before they introduce it. So I start the first lesson with the letter O. In Vietnamese, ‘what does a rooster say?’ It’s that letter sound.”
The designs were inspired by traditional Vietnamese art and imagery and from old Vietnamese textbooks. Pfeffer shares that any and every cultural aspect is important and that making these graphic designs has helped her improve.
“Art is important for me because it’s basic for me and I think it’s helped a lot when I continue my career into design. I want people to observe more about cultural aspects. Because I think different cultures are beautiful and just being more open to like ‘how do you present media? Is that suitable for the audience that you are trying to reach?’” Pfeffer said.
Students can stop by the Conkling Gallery located in Nelson Hall until Nov. 3 to see the displayed designs.
Write to Anahi Zuniga at email@example.com
Header Photo: Artist Kim Cao Pfeffor crafted Vietnamese art, imagery and textbooks for her MA Thesis Exhibition in Conkling Gallery. (Alexis Darkow/The Reporter)