2012 D*S Scholarship: Grad Student Voting!

by Grace Bonney

Since the very first Design*Sponge Scholarship back in 2007, I have been honored to look through some incredible applications and beautiful artwork. But no group has stood out to me as much as this year’s graduate student applicants. From incredible textiles and woodworking to beautiful painting and installation work, this year’s finalists truly took my breath away and it was a joy just to read through their applications and flip through their websites and portfolios. This sort of incredible work is what keeps me inspired and writing every day and I just want to thank these amazing students- and everyone who applied- for working so hard to push design forward. I can’t wait to see what this next generation of artists and designers does- they’ve got such bright futures ahead of them.

The winners for all three scholarship categories will be announced this coming Monday, December 24th. I just wanted to say a very big thank you to everyone who entered and voted- you all make this scholarship such a highlight of the year for all of us at D*S and I’m so glad we get to end the year on such a promising note. Good luck to everyone in the final groups and happy voting! xo, grace

Thanks again to O’More College of Design, West Elm, BRIKA and Parsons for generously donating this year’s awards


Finalists are listed in alphabetical order

Ashely Peifer
Ashley is studying Painting at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. You can see more of her work here.

Who/What inspires your work?: “Other painters: Annie Lapin, Tomory Dodge, Claire Sherman, Terry Winters, Peter Doig, Linda Geary, Cy Twombly, Sigrid Sandstrom, Katy Moran, and the writings of Philip Guston. Digital images of different places; I have a large archive on my desktop.”

Where do you hope to be in five years?: “Maintaining a regular studio practice while teaching art at a university.”

Why do you think you should win this year’s scholarship?: “I would like to win so I can buy supplies to build large (8′ x 8′) canvases and more oil paint for my thesis exhibition in May. I don’t think I “deserve” to win more than others, I just work really hard and love to paint. The scholarship money would help a lot.”

Elizabeth Corkery
Elizabeth is studying Printmaking at Cornell. You can see more of her work here.

Who/What inspires your work?: “I am an avid consumer of visual culture. Much of my time is absorbed in viewing journals, blogs, magazines, books, photographs and art exhibitions both online and off. While it’s often difficult to isolate how certain images generate an affect and others don’t, I’m a firm believer in allowing emotional responses to lead. Whether eliciting delight, melancholy or unease, I think it’s the visceral reactions that should be pursued and subsequently that is always the aim I have for my own pieces; what is going to happen or be felt in the first second that someone encounters my work, and will it initiate a further connection? It’s easy in the context of graduate school to start over-theorizing one’s practice but I think it ultimately comes down to the moment that the work meets the gaze of the viewer and what transpires from there. Whenever I come across work that nails this kind of encounter or demands this kind of engagement, I’m always both excited and reminded of why it is a make art. ”

Where do you hope to be in five years?: “In addition to continuing my own print practice, my ambition after graduating is to open my own open-access print shop where members can use the facilities for both self-directed work and educational workshops. Printmaking is an inherently community-driven medium given its reliance on facilities and space. The spirit of collaboration that print studios engender are incredibly fruitful and as a printmaker, the philosophy behind my practice has always been one of creative engagement both in conceptual development and studio production. During the summer this year I spent time in the UK on a travel grant that was geared towards visiting some of the diverse and popular facilities in London that offer this kind of programming. I was able to explore how groups like Print Club and LondonPrintStudio collectively impact and enhance the London and UK print communities. More specifically I was introduced to the varied ways they run their shops and how they each approach set-up, fundraising, and educational programs. Through this overseas exploration, in addition to the similar shops I’ve visited throughout the US in cities like New York, Austin, Kansas City and Philadelphia, I have been able to accumulate the knowledge and confidence for approaching a similar set-up myself once my MFA is completed. After having been in successful operation for a couple of years my goal would be to establish a gallery and store through which work made by members could be both exhibited and sold in the accessible and affordable manner that prints are so well-suited. In my dream print studio I would also have an amazing coffee shop serving homemade treats that would allow me to indulge my other passion beyond print – baking!”

Why do you think you should win this year’s scholarship?: “The timing of this competition and the prize money generously on offer would both be ideal in terms of finishing my degree and looking forward to the next career development as a practicing artist. I would use the prize money to self-publish an artist’s book that I could then use both as a catalog of my production through the last two years and also as a mode through which to share my work in such outlets as Printed Matter in New York City, Art Metropole in Toronto and online group Self Publish, Be Happy. I’m a strong advocator for the continued relevance and influence of the printed book in both traditional published iterations and contemporary interpretations of the book as an art object. While I certainly have a strong engagement with the digital realm of artistic dissemination, the tactility and lasting physicality that books and printed matter can share is not to be discounted. I would look to this self-published monograph as a significant development in my post-graduate professional engagement. ”

Xavier Coulombe-Murray
Xavier is studying Print Design at Université Du Québec à Montréal. You can see more of his work here.

Who/What inspires your work?: “A lot of things inspire me. Everywhere there is something that rings a bell for me. I couldn’t find a pattern in which I could describe you exactly what inspire me. I guess that simple things, the one we take for grated, are, for one, things that inspire me. I like the work that I don’t quite understand how they pulled it off. Then I try to analyse and understand. I also like work that is simple, but that there is a single element that ties everything tightly together. Otherwise, there are a lot of designers out there that I like. Joseph Müller-Brockmann, Xavier Encinas, Peter Saville, Bruce Mau, Konstantin Grcic, just to name a few.”

Where do you hope to be in five years?: “I hope I’ll still be learning. Other than that I’d like to be doing work with creative people. Challenging ideas and producing work of quality. I couldn’t tell you where exactly I’d see myself in five years because setting me goals like this also seems like setting myself limits. I want to get better, work in different area of design not just graphic design.”

Why do you think you should win this year’s scholarship?: “One of the best answer I could give you about why I should win is that it would make a real difference for me. I’ll always be a designer. But I need time and tools to get better. To think deeper. To find the source of problems and create a proper solution. I don’t want to work quickly for little up to a point where everything seems like a template. I decided to work less and work hard. So far, this has been good for me. I’m proud of my work and my clients are happy. I’ve gotten the chance to work with great artists. But it also has his drawback. Which is not making much money. I know once school is done i’ll be working full-time (and more) but now I feel a little help will simplify things for me. It will give me more time to study, experiment and thus learn more. More precisely, I’ll use the money to pay for my school books. Pay more books I feel I should also read. It will help me pay better materials for my projects. Also, to pay a few bills since I’d like to work less for a few months.”

Sara Plantefève-Castryck
Sara is studying Textiles at the Bergen Academy of Art and Design in Norway. You can see more of her work here.

Who/What inspires your work?: “I find my inspiration in popular media and even in magazines. The world of fashion and pattern in fashion really does inspire me. But also in the past there have been tons of interesting things happening that still inspires me everyday (think about the Bauhaus textiles, Oskar Schlemmer and his performance/theater pieces, de Wiener Werkstatte)”

Where do you hope to be in five years?: “I love to have my own studio, working together with all different kind of artists. Working in fashion, art, design. Nothing having to deal with any limits and being happy to create textile for performances, fashion designers, sculptures. ”

Why do you think you should win this year’s scholarship?: “Because I feel like textile design has always been underappreciated and more seen as design as textile, I want to show that there hasn’t got to be this strict dividing line and that the most interesting things come from meeting different disciplines. I’m working at my master project right now. I’m trying to play with movement in dress and its environment. I’m combining self painted textile pieces with knitted material. Playing with pattern, shape and form. Creating graphic settings where everything comes together and start acting as one. If I would win an amount of money I would go to the textile museum in textile museum in Tilburg where they have amazing knitting machines that can produce whatever you put in them. It would give me more freedom to create what i want in the limited time I have. For me as a student going there is too expensive and this would be a great opportunity to finally have this artistic freedom to make a art project I can happily graduate with. And otherwise I would use the money to be able to do an internship outside of Belgium to get the much needed professional knowledge.”

Amanda McCavour
Amanda is studying Fibers and Material Studies at Temple University. You can see more of her work here.

Who/What inspires your work?: “I am interested in drawing and this is where most of my work starts. In fact, I came to using sewn lines through an interest in drawn line. While taking a drawing course with professor Michael Davey during my undergraduate degree, where drawing was defined simply as line, I thought that threaded line would be interesting to use. Finding links between the fibers of the body and fibers of cloth sparked my first series of work with embroidery. This shift in materials, from lines made on paper to embroidery, marked a turning point in my practice. Louise Bourgeois is an amazing artist and is someone who influences my work. Recently, I have been looking at her drawings. In Louise Bourgeois’ drawing titled “Le Cauchemar de Hayter”, a continuously looping red line is used to create a sense of structure and continuity. In her words, “It is a symbol of something that is totally continuous and harmonious along the length of the day”. It is this interlocking and looping action that is also present in my work, the overlapping lines that create the structure. The continuing and ever present line within my work links sewn line to drawn line. Louise Bourgeois’ drawing links drawn line to sewn structure. Artist Do ho Suh’s constructed fabric interiors are also incredibly interesting to me. Suh’s architectural interiors are traces of specific spaces that are integral to his life. Similarly, my pieces (titled “Living Room” and “Stand In For Home”) are embroidered recreations of my previous living spaces. Flat embroideries of furniture were created on a 1 to 1 scale and these pieces are displayed like a diorama, to create depth. Both works are collapsible structures can be easily moved and installed. The biographical details present in both works, of moving and temporary apartment spaces hi light the impermanence of dwelling spaces in both Do Ho Suh’s life and my own. Both spaces are fragmented and displaced. They are both like dream spaces. Both projects act as a trace or record of a space that used to exist; a hovering ghostly image of the past. Part shrine or monument, the thread drawings and fabric installations act as tribute to rooms that once were. Emma Kunz is another artist who I admire. In her work, geometric compositions are made on graph paper with pencil crayon and consist of flat areas of color mixed with transparent ones. Her overlapping lines seem to vibrate. Her interest in geometry stemmed from an interest in different energies and my interest in line stems from an interest in the vibration of the colors visually. I am becoming more and more interested in this abstract way of working.”

Where do you hope to be in five years?: “In five years I hope be doing what I love- Making things and sharing them with people! After completing my studies at Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia, I hope to have my own studio space where I will continue my artistic practice by pursuing my visual research into the properties of line within artwork. I will share my practice through teaching and lectures and will complete additional artist residencies.”

Why do you think you should win this year’s scholarship?: “I believe I should win firstly because of the strength of my past work. Secondly, and more importantly, I would hope that the Design Sponge* team would see the potential for growth within my work in a school environment at this particular time in my career. The past 5 years spent outside of an academic institution have allowed me to work and grow within my artistic practice through residencies, exhibitions and teaching. I believe that this is the perfect time in my career to return to school and look toward pushing my practice forward in a big way. With the support of my professors and fellow classmates, I will take risks with materials and use he available technologies that Tyler School of Art has to offer. I hope that Design Sponge* would support me in this adventure. I would spend the prize money on supplies and tuition costs as these costs add up very quickly. The money would help me to afford materials to make future projects. ”

Laura Fischer
Laura Fischer is studying New Practices* at San Francisco State University. You can see more of her work here.

(Ed. Note: You can read more about New Practices here– I’d never heard of this and thought it was fascinating)

Who/What inspires your work?: “I’m inspired by working. I am motivated by being in the studio, working with materials, and being somewhat regimented in my art making. I admire artists like Frank Stella and Agnes Martin, that make work in series. I find some kind of magic in the idea of slight shifts and variations, within a body of work that spans a lifetime. I’m drawn to aesthetics that reflect a person’s persistent curiosity and work ethic. I’m spurred by the sort of masterful and prolific output that one sees in a pottery studio or woolen mill. ”

Where do you hope to be in five years?: “I hope to wear many hats in my lifetime. I want to be an artist, an educator, a curator, and designer. More than anything, I hope to fill the next five years with experiences that will allow me to continue to develop as an artist. After grad school, access to making art will be my biggest priority. In addition to studio space, I will seek out residencies and grants that will give me the time and space needed to make art. Secondly, I will seek out opportunities and experiences in which I can continue to develop my strengths as a teacher. I’m ready to chase down any little opportunity I can possibly find in order to slowly gain the sort of experience needed for my ultimate goal of being an art department faculty member of a small liberal arts college. In the near term, I’m dreaming of coordinating curatorial projects that create venues for work by contemporary fiber artists. I recently went on a trip to New York with a seminar and came home inspired to blaze my own path! Lastly, I have a frame loom on which I like to make small, quick, textile designs, exploring material contrasts. I want to develop this into a project that will continue over years and years and accumulate into a library of designs. If it were to develop into something commercial, that would be amazing, but if not, I will have scratched a major itch.”

Why do you think you should win this year’s scholarship?: “If chosen as one of Design Sponge’s 2012 Scholarship recipients, I would receive the award with gratitude and appreciation. I would feel reinvigorated by the acknowledgement and the award would contribute a very substantial piece to the financial puzzle that is graduate school. Specifically though, I would use the award to seek out experiences like attending a workshop at the Jacquard Center in Montreal, or the College Art Association Annual Conference in New York this February. There are, of course, pieces of equipment on my studio wish-list that will ease my transition out of school, including an Epson scanner and a Craftsman sliding miter saw. More than anything though, I see how this award can help me in achieving my professional goals. I make art because I have to. There is some force that motivates me to show up at the studio every morning and it’s mysterious and I love it. However, the more time I spend in school and the more I learn about the context in which my work is situated, the more I feel an building obligation to contribute to the advancement of my field. I’m excited to do so in a way that will be true to my own character.”

Eric Trine
Eric is studying Furniture and Home Products through the MFA program in Applied Craft and Design offered jointly through Pacific Northwest College of Art and the Oregon College of Art and Craft. You can see more of his work here.

Who/What inspires your work?: “Friends and family and spending time together. I really enjoy paying attention to the spaces we occupy and how we occupy them. How furniture becomes support for hospitality, community, engagement. I really love how a table disappears when it’s full of good people, good food, good beer, love and laughter. The table becomes a conduit – it’s reduced to simply just an elevated surface that creates the space for the good stuff of life to occur. I know that seems odd, because I make furniture, and I need people to buy my furniture, but that’s the thing that really inspires me – what furniture can do, what it can be a part of. And so, I think about that all time when I’m hanging out with my friends and family. I’m looking at how people move around the space, how they sit on the arm of the couch, how we always end of hanging out in the kitchen – these inquiries are a man part of why I decided to go to graduate school. I’m inspired by the Eames’ – I mean, who isn’t, right? Their work was great, but I’ve always been more interested in the thinking behind their work. I love the quote, “The role of design is that of a good host.” I love that. I’m inspired by Russel Wright – he and his wife wrote a book together in 50’s called “A guide to easier living”. It’s kind of a manifesto for casual living but it puts a lot of emphasis on the family and being together. There’s a real ethos that operated behind the modern furniture movement and I think a lot of that has been lost as we fetishize the objects from that era, rather than explore the ideas. So, the writings from the american modern furniture movement are huge for me right now – really rich, inspiring content.”

Where do you hope to be in five years?: “Professionally, I hope to be moving forward with my design studio/company. I’d really like to have some employees – I’d like to be able to hire some young artists and designers and pay them a good wage and give them benefits. That would be awesome. I see my work playing out in 4 distinct categories:

Product line, custom commissions, commercial design/build projects, consulting or teaching. Product line: I’d like to develop a line of goods where I can outsource the manufacturing – locally outsource, either in LA or Portland, OR.

Custom work – Furniture work for residential clients. I still like making furniture and I want to continue to do it, but I know that as the years go on, I won’t be able to sustain a livable income with only custom work.

Commercial clients – I’d like to design and build outs for bars, restaurants, events, retail spaces. Again, I love this kind of work, but I don’t want to base my whole biz plan on it. I want to work with the right client at the right time. I see myself doing 1 or 2 of these a year.

Consulting/Teaching – I want to teach young artists and designers how to make money making stuff. This is hugely lacking from arts education – and whether it’s professional consulting or through a college or academy, I’d love to do work like this. ”

Why do you think you should win this year’s scholarship?: “I wish I had some grand, romantic vision for how to use the scholarship, but I think I’d use it for more practical reasons. I would really like to update my website and combine it with e-commerce. I need to. I have a web designer that I’d like to work with, and he’s given me a quote and everything, now I just need to come up with the funds. I want to take my thesis project to market, and I think that having a better web site and online shop is key.
Another thing I might use it for – a newer truck. My current truck is on it’s last leg and I am utterly dependent on that thing. Again, not a romantic use of the scholarship, but it would have tremendous practical impact on my work.”

Elisabeth McNair
Elisabeth is studying Illustration and Design at the Portfolio Center in Georgia. You can see more of her work here.

Who/What inspires your work?: “I am inspired by anything old: books, magazines, postcards, film. Literature is probably the thing that inspires me most. Some of my favorite authors include Sylvia Plath, J.D. Salinger, Flannery O’Connor, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Laurie Moore, Aimee Bender, and Haruki Murakami. I am passionate about the printed word, whether the medium is newspapers, books, magazines, or mail. There is a tenderness in ink on paper that can never be duplicated on a screen.”

Where do you hope to be in five years?: “In five years, I hope to be freelancing full-time. My dream is to split my time between editorial illustration, web design that incorporates illustration, and working on personal projects. I would love to write and illustrate my own books, which would be inspired by both Edward Gorey and Maira Kalman.”

Why do you think you should win this year’s scholarship?: “When I graduated with a B.F.A. in drawing, painting and printmaking, I was too shy and afraid to do what what was necessary to start a career in the arts. I spent five miserable years working at jobs I hated while trying to create art in my spare time. When I decided to go back to school, I promised myself that I would no longer allow anxiety to keep me from pursuing my dreams. I think I should win the scholarship because I am so determined to make my illustration and design career a reality; not a penny of the money will go to waste. Even though I had to take out loans for tuition and living expenses, I would use the scholarship money for something special: a printing press. While I draw everything by hand, I mostly paint digitally, and I miss the happy accidents that occur when creating art traditionally. In college, I barely touched a computer, and I am interested in seeing how I might combine my printmaking skills with things I’ve learned since going back to school–like typography, web design, and motion graphics. I think it is important to move forward, into the future, without losing what was good about the past.”

Madison Creech
Madison is studying Fibers at Arizona State University. You can see more of Madison’s work here.

Who/What inspires your work?: “The people that have inspired my work are my mentors from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. Elizabeth Ingraham taught one of my very first art classes. She created life sized body forms out of cloth. Viewers were encouraged to touch the forms. She taught me about the tactile nature of fiber and cloth. People identify with cloth because it is apart of the everyday. In a gallery setting, people are more likely to touch a quilt over an oil painting. My first taste of fiber art was with Michael James through a program called UCARE. This program gave undergraduate students the opportunity to work one on one with a professor for two years with an ending thesis. Michael James is known for his beautiful quilts made with digitally printed textiles. I used the printer to create a series of small shear dresses that can be seen on my website. My Grandma Crain inspired the concept behind the dresses. She suffers from dementia. It has been scary watching her struggles from the outside. Seeing the sudden realization that she has no idea where she is or where she was going. Looking through her yearbook where she crosses out the faces of friends that have passed away, erasing any solid memory. In response, I wanted to make a piece to understand her and her illness. That piece spiraled into a body of work.”

Where do you hope to be in five years?: “professionally, in 5 years? *
In 5 years, I plan to have a Masters in Art. I see myself at a new University as a visiting artist, inspiring and teaching the next generation.”

Why do you think you should win this year’s scholarship?: “I’ve worked very hard to get into a masters program. It is a struggle to scrape up enough money just to pay for tuition, let alone art supplies. I would use this money towards Spring semester tuition. Having the tuition paid in full would ease my mind.”

Gaïa Orain
Gaïa is studying Products of Design at the School of Visual Arts. You can see more of her work here.

Who/What inspires your work?: “During the first year of my undergraduate studies, I became well acquainted with the life and work of William Morris, one of the main founders of the Arts & Crafts movement. It was initially his highly ornate patterns that drew me to his work, yet it was the holistic approach and the gamut of things he accomplished during the course of his career that continues to inspire my awe. Mari Mekko is my pattern heroine. Alexander McQueen, My fashion inspiration. Ferran Adria’s brilliant molecular gastronomy inspires me to constantly re-conceptualize and make design offerings that locate their value in the experience.”

Where do you hope to be in five years?: “I hope to have no idea! I strongly entertain the idea of being a practicing designer and teaching at the university/collegial level. I love teaching, and good design thinking is such an important tool. I have no plans of working for a specific company or in a certain domain. What I have learned so far is that the greatest job I’ll ever have is the one I create for myself.

Why do you think you should win this year’s scholarship?: “I left everything I knew to come to New York and be a part of SVA’s Products of Design inaugural class. I don’t regret my decision for a moment as I am constantly being challenged and pushed to think better and to make, even better. This program however is a serious financial investment. As an international student from Canada, my ability to be gainfully employed during my studies is seriously restricted. Being awarded this scholarship would not only greatly help me financially but also validate my decision to be here. To be selected by the Design*Sponge committee would be an exceptional honor and encourage me to continually strive for excellence in my work.”


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