A taste of the rainbow in “Spectra”

Lights, colors and shapes fill Minnesota State’s Conkling Gallery for its “Spectra” exhibit. 

The exhibit, running from Jan. 15 to Feb. 9, is collaborative work completed by MSU graphic design professors Ellen Schofield, Matt Willemsen and Bradley Coulter. 

“In ‘Spectra,’ we explore the theme of light in various forms,” Schofield said. “Our pieces include works with projected light, bands of rainbow color and experiments with overlapping filtered shadows.” 

The collection includes slices of plastic reflecting light, a variety of posters and animations projected onto pedestals in the gallery. The three professors worked with the space in Conkling, testing prototypes for the final result. 

“Creating the pieces for ‘Spectra’ was a close collaborative effort among the three of us,” Schofield said. “We spent a lot of time experimenting with different ideas, materials and techniques.”

The idea for “Spectra” fell into place after a conversation with MSU astronomy professor Michael Rutkowski.  

“He (Rutkowski) shared insights from his work with the James Webb Telescope,” Schofield said. “Particularly how they analyze different properties of light to understand distant astronomical objects.”

According to NASA, the James Webb Space Telescope is a large, infrared telescope capable of studying every phase in the history of the universe.

 “This concept of light analysis resonated with us, and we used it as a foundation for our show,” Schofield said. 

The professors and artists behind “Spectra” have maintained a long, working relationship with the Department of Creative Arts, “and a deep mutual respect for the skills and abilities each of us bring to the table,” Willemsen said. 

“This made for a smooth synergy to produce and react to the work being produced collaboratively.”  

Willemsen, with more than 20 years of experience in the field of graphic design and design education, specializes in visual identity and logo design. Coulter is a professor of both graphic design and typography at the university.  

“My research is focused on exploring the psychological components of type design and use and integrating those findings into historical and emerging applications of type to the page and the screen,” Coulter said. 

Schofield has an interest in illustration and graphic design, especially influenced by technology. 

“My work involves experimenting with new technologies and integrating them into my design projects,” Schofield said. “I have a particular fondness for creating designs that are vibrant, colorful and convey a sense of joy.”

The faculty members are involved in programming and operating Conkling Gallery, which hosts shows throughout the year, “bringing in artists from both the local region and across the nation who work in a diverse array of mediums and styles,” Schofield said. 

“It also serves as a celebratory space where we showcase the work of our graduating art students at the end of each semester.”

Write to Mercedes Kauphusman at mercedes.kauphusman@mnsu.edu

Header Photo: Minnesota State graphic design professors collaborated to create the “Spectra” exhibit in Conkling Gallery running from Jan. 15 to Feb. 9. The exhibit displays different shapes, colors of the rainbow, animations,  and light in various forms. (Davis Jensen/The Reporter)

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.