Graphic design students to showcase art in Visie Van Amsterdam 5 exhibit in Grand Center

by | Sep 4, 2019

The work on display showcases what the nine students learned during a two-week trip to the Netherlands led by Associate Professor Jennifer McKnight.
Amsterdam Design Students

Graphic design students enjoy a boat ride in Amsterdam during a two-week study abroad program.

In the Netherlands, a bus ticket is not just a bus ticket. Like many other everyday objects in the country, it’s also a thoughtful work of design.

At least that’s what Jennifer McKnight, associate professor of graphic design, aimed to show University of Missouri–St. Louis students on a class trip to Amsterdam this past June.

On Friday, nine graphic design students will showcase what they learned abroad at the opening of the Visie Van Amsterdam 5 exhibit at the Kranzberg Gallery Suite 300 (3526 Washington Ave, Suite 300, 63103) in the Grand Center Arts District. The opening reception will take place from 6 to 9 p.m., and the exhibit will run until Oct. 5.

McKnight teaches a graphic design class in Amsterdam every other summer, and this marked the fifth year that her class traveled to the Dutch capital. After each trip, her students create and display design inspired by their experiences.

This year’s exhibit will include digital posters, silkscreen posters, a video piece and an audio piece from students.

Students in the Printmaking Studio.

Seniors Leah Gornet (left) and Carrie Lembke make a silkscreen print.

They don’t get to have all the fun, though. McKnight also produced two posters for the exhibit, demonstrating what she experienced.

“For this one project, I let them challenge me,” McKnight said. “I had to learn with them and do the project with them.”

Amsterdam is the perfect place for young graphic designers to learn something new. McKnight said the city – and the Netherlands in general – honors visual communication everywhere.

For two weeks, the students were immersed in a culture preoccupied with design. They visited Dutch institutions such as the renowned Rijksmuseum and design studios specializing in a range of artforms from silkscreen to animation.

Inspiration also proved to be abundant in the city streets, from bold posters on neighborhood walls to seemingly more mundane items.

“If you walk through a Dutch city, you buy a ticket that’s carefully designed for a bus that’s carefully designed,” McKnight said. “Everything is designed for efficiency and pleasure to make your experience as rich as possible.”

Senior Leah Gornet was struck by the cobblestone streets and how people moved around the city. Gornet said the class traveled mostly by foot, bike or tram during the trip – something unthinkable in St. Louis.

Visie Van Amsterdam 5 Poster

A poster created to promote the exhibit.

For Concepcion Salazar, the experience studying in a bustling, diverse city reignited her passion for graphic design.

“The experience as a whole was life changing,” Salazar said. “This is the start of my sixth year at UMSL, and for the past three years, it is like I have been dormant creatively.”

The students’ artwork was informed by a number of things they encountered. McKnight said students were particularly taken with the cycling culture in Amsterdam. Salazar was inspired by bicycles and the ubiquitous Dutch tulips, including both on one of her posters.

Gornet leaned on a visit to the Eye Filmmuseum, a film history museum, for her work. She said it was amazing to see how different artists, from the silent-film era to modern Disney films, worked and told their stories.

Senior Tori Gildehaus incorporated the Amsterdam city flag, which features three iconic X’s on a red and black field, into her work.

“People had spray painted the X’s in the street, and it was incorporated into a lot of the infrastructure,” Gildehaus said. “I was inspired by that and how people had so much pride in the city.”

Overall, the students are excited to present their work publicly.

“This is something new to me,” Salazar said. “I’ve had small pieces displayed for art showings at the UMSL Fine Arts Building but never for something so grand and public as the Kranzberg.”

The exhibit will be held in the Kranzberg Suite 300 Gallery located at 3526 Washington Ave. Admission is free.

The students participating in the exhibit are: Andrew Clark, Jack Cradic, Matt Dickerman (alumnus), Tori Gildehaus, Leah Gornet, Aaron Haller, Mariah Lauer, Carrie Lembke and Concepcion Salazar.

Burk Krohe

Burk Krohe