Category: Design

#CFADWorks: Lauren Naney

UCO Interior Design Alumni Spotlight with Lauren Naney of Champion Supply

Our graduates are doing extraordinary things!  Interior Design Alumni Spotlights are a new feature highlighting our talented graduates. These interviews allow you to learn about where our alumni work, the types of projects they do, and how their experiences during their time at UCO helped shape them into the designers they are today.

UCO DES: Where are you from?

Lauren Naney: Edmond, OK

DES: What was your major?   

LN: BFA Interior Design from the College of Fine Arts and Design

What year did you graduate from UCO?

LN: 2018

DES: What got you interested in interior design? Why did you decide to major in it?

LN: I had a childhood friend whose mother had fairly eccentric taste compared to my own mother’s, and I felt very drawn to their home. Every room was bold, and all the bookshelves were filled with knick-knacks, photographs from their travels, and pieces from local artists. My friend and I spent hours watching HGTV and rearranging our own rooms, trying to outdo one another. I found it intriguing, and then one day, it just seemed so unnatural for it not to be a part of my day-to-day life.

DES: Did you double major or get a minor in school? If so, what other areas did you study?

LN: In the early 2000s, I wasn’t certain that Oklahoma would ever be a place where interior designers could thrive, and I wasn’t ready to move, so I originally majored in business; Purchasing Materials Management specifically, with the plan to minor in Italian, French, and Mandarin to become a buyer for some sort of textile company. Ultimately, I never grew passionate about logistics and decided to focus on Human Resources since my late Godmother was a well-known professional in Oklahoma. Most of my electives were all in Marketing and seemed to hold my interest, which allowed me to double major. I graduated from the College of Business in 2011 with two Bachelors of Business Administration in Human Resources and Marketing.

DES: Have those degrees helped you as a designer?

LN: Most definitely! Both have been instrumental in helping me build business relationships and market myself and my abilities as a design professional.

DES: What was your first job after graduation?

LN: In 2012, I took a position in Human Resources with Mathis Brothers, where I could further my business knowledge. After working with them for three years, I realized that it would never be the life I wanted. I constantly referred to myself as a hot pink zebra in a black and white office and soon found my way back to UCO to pursue my degree in design.

DES: Where are you working today? Do you specialize in a certain type of design?

LN: During my last semester in 2018, I found my way to Champion Supply with the help of Dr. Valerie Settles (UCO School of Design Director) since a former student worked here. The company specializes in supplying amenities and operating supplies to hotels and restaurants, with its biggest client being its parent company Champion Hotels. Several years ago, the company started to branch out into design and has since been growing the business and department to accommodate the market’s needs. I specialize in hospitality design, primarily in custom hotels; however, I also assist with prototype projects periodically.

DES: What has been one of your favorite projects you’ve worked on as a professional?

LN: I have 2 La Quinta projects in Houston, TX, that the same investment group owned. Watching them both transform after not being updated in roughly 15 years was a pretty awesome experience.

DES: When you were a student, did you work? If so, where?

LN: I mainly worked for Republic Gastropub, then moved to the Ranch Steakhouse during my senior year to work around my new position at Champion Supply.

DES: Where did you do your internship? How did that experience shape your future?

LN: I worked with a local lighting retailer and quickly realized how important business finances and relationships were, especially when you trade on your name. It helped me realize being in retail and working in residential was not for me.

DES: Have you taken the NCIDQ exam? Any advice?

LN: In the process of studying, but it is a beast! I would encourage students to take the IDFX portion during their senior year while the information is fresh.

DES: What is one of your fondest memories of your time at UCO?

LN: Graduating… both times. The feeling of hearing your name called and walking across the stage makes all the sacrifices worth it.

DES: What advice can you give our current students?

LN: Do multiple internships. You can do so many different things with the knowledge you get from this program. Dip your toes in several things to see what positions and company’s culture fit your goals, values, and lifestyle. Create a professional social media account where the content highlights your work, interests, and you as a creative. Keep it clean and professional because I guarantee it will be one of the first things potential employers will look at when sifting through their candidate pool.

The pictures provided show some before and after designs for the exterior of a LaQuinta Hotel and the lobby.

La Quinta Inn lobby before La Quinta Inn lobby after La Quinta Inn exterior before La Quinta Inn exterior after

Compiled by Amy Jacobson-Peters, MFA, ASID, IDEC
Assistant Professor
Division Head, BFA Interior Design, UCO School of Design

#CFADWorks: Cassidy Brunsteter

UCO Interior Design Alumni Spotlight on Cassidy Brunsteter of Mr. Robert Fine Furniture and Design, Norman, Oklahoma

Our graduates are doing extraordinary things! Interior Design Alumni Spotlights are a new feature highlighting our talented graduates. These interviews allow you to learn about where our alumni work, the types of projects they do, and how their experiences during their time at UCO helped shape them into the designers they are today.

Questions:

UCO DES: What year did you graduate from UCO?

Cassidy Brunsteter: 2007

UCO DES: What was your name in school?

CB: Cassidy Murphey

UCO DES: Where are you from?

CB: Oklahoma City

UCO DES: What got you interested in interior design?

CB: I became interested in interior design at a very young age. I can remember drawing floorplans of my house, and I loved to watch shows like Martha Stewart Living before there was HGTV.

UCO DES: Did you study anything else while you were in school?

CB: For the first two years, I studied dance.

UCO DES: What was your first job after graduation?

CB: Mister Robert Fine Furniture & Interior Design in Norman, Oklahoma.

UCO DES: What are you doing today? 

CB: I moved to Seattle, Washington a couple of years after graduating and worked in both design and residential property management while there. After many years in Seattle, my husband and I moved back to Oklahoma and I made my way back to Mister Robert. I have now been back with Mister Robert for a little over 3 ½ years as a designer specializing in residential interiors. I am involved as a buyer and in advertising as well.

UCO DES: What has been one of your favorite projects you’ve worked on as a professional?

CB: There have been so many! Working in residential design, you really get to know your clients and their families. I have been so lucky to help and work with some of the neatest and nicest people. It is a wonderful reminder that furniture selection and placement is so much more than just that. As designers we help to make their house a home. It can be a very rewarding experience.

UCO DES: When you were a student, did you work? If so, where?

CB: My first job in the industry was at Theo’s Marketplace at their Edmond location. I worked a few hours a week, between classes. I learned so much about furniture and the access I had to fabrics and materials was useful with school design projects.

UCO DES: Where did you do your internship? How did that experience shape your future?

CB: I did a residential internship with Winterhouse Interiors, and a commercial internship with ADG architects. They were both wonderful internships, and doing both commercial and residential was very helpful in deciding my career path in residential design.

UCO DES: Were you involved in any other campus activities or organizations when you were in school? Were you in a leadership position?

CB: I served as President-Elect and President of UCO’s student chapter of ASID (now SIDA).

UCO DES: Are you a member of a professional organization now as a practicing designer?

CB: I am an Allied Member of ASID.

UCO DES: What is one of your fondest memories of your time at UCO?

CB: I have so many fond memories of my time at UCO, but my design trip to Paris must be my favorite!

UCO DES: What advice can you give our current students?

CB: Take internship opportunities and take them seriously! The design world is a small world no matter what path you take, and it is never too soon to start your professional resume with professional references.

The photos provided represent a variety of Cassidy’s projects.

Cassidy Brunsteter, example of bedroom interior design Cassidy Brunsteter, example 1 of living room interior design Cassidy Brunsteter, example 2 of living room interior design

Mr. Robert Fine Furniture and Design has been a landmark along Norman’s Main Street since 1958 providing furniture and design services for both home and office needs. You can learn more about Mr. Robert at:  https://www.misterrobert.com/#home

Compiled by Amy Jacobson-Peters, MFA, ASID, IDEC
Assistant Professor
Division Head, BFA Interior Design, UCO School of Design

#CFADWorks: Nathan Hughes

Interior Design Alumni Spotlight with Nathan R. Hughes of Mathis Brothers

Interior Design graduates are doing extraordinary things!  Interior Design Alumni Spotlights are a new feature highlighting our talented graduates. These interviews allow you to learn about where our alumni work, the types of projects they do, and how their experiences during their time at UCO helped shape them into the designers they are today.

Questions:

UCO DES:  Where are you from?

Nathan R. Hughes:  I grew up in Arkansas and moved to Kansas to complete my Associate of Arts Degree at Wichita State University.

DES:  What year did you graduate from UCO?

NH:  2014

DES:  What got you interested in interior design?

NH:  I remember the dawn of HGTV.  Almost every show was about Interior Design. I remembered watching programs and thinking to myself, “Wow, they didn’t handle that well, or they should have researched more before diving into a client’s home like they did.” I also loved the look in a client’s eyes and the change to their demeanor when they walked into a perfect space just for them. 

DES:  Why did you decide to major in interior design?

NH:  I was in furniture sales at the time and decided I wanted to move up in my company and actually have the education and experience needed to assist my clientele with their homes properly. I loved the design and relation part of my job, but I wasn’t too much into the sales part. However, design sells itself if you design with your client’s best interest in mind and really listen to their wants and needs. 

DES:  What other areas of interest did you study while in school? 

NH:  I took several hours of Psychology. I really think Interior Design and Psychology come together nicely to allow you to communicate with a client and understand their viewpoints.

DES:  When you were a student, did you work?  If so, where?

NH:  Yes, I worked full time for Mathis Brothers, first in Sales and then in Visual Display. It was a true balancing act.

Where did you do your internship?  How did that experience shape your future?

NH:  I did my internship under the construction team and designers at Mathis Brothers. I wish I would have done this elsewhere just for the experience, but this taught me that there are many different ways to approach a project, and at the end of the day, the path isn’t always as important as the result. Work smart, work hard, and remember to breathe.

DES:  How has your degree helped you as a designer?

NH:  Tremendously. When it comes to people’s homes, they want someone who is relatable and has an eye, but that also has the educational background to make their homes both beautiful and functional.

DES:  What was your first job after graduation?

NH:  I was employed at Mathis Brothers as a Display Coordinator. We maintained and set the showroom and other Mathis locations for day to day, holidays, and special occasions.

DES:  What are you doing today?  What is your title?

NH:  I am the top Interior Designer at Mathis Design Studio in Oklahoma City. I recently was promoted to Design Studio Team Lead to help teammates better assist their clients and reach their goals. Altogether, I have been with Mathis Brothers for over 15 years now. We work with residential and commercial clients to plan out their spaces and make the design/ furniture experience more pleasant. 

DES:  What has been one of your favorite projects you’ve worked on as a professional?

NH:  There have been so many! I have had the honor of participating in the Oklahoma City Symphony Show-house since 2012. This is a great organization for our community, and they are like family. I have also done design work on a charter yacht in Italy, worked with several Thunder players on their homes, and helped numerous clients achieve their perfect idea of “home” over the years.

DES:  Were you involved in any other campus activities or organizations when you were in school?  Were you in a leadership position? 

NH:  I joined ASID (the American Society of Interior Designers) as a student at the beginning of my senior year and have stayed a part of the organization as of today. I was awarded the Outstanding Senior Design Student Award in my senior year.  

DES:  Are you a member of a professional organization now as a practicing designer?

NH:  I am a member and Past President of the Oklahoma Chapter of ASID. I have served on the board since 2017. This organization really reaches out to the design community. It supplies networking and education opportunities for its members and the design community, so no one has to feel they are in this alone.

DES:  What is one of your fondest memories of your time at UCO?

NH:  The cram sessions before exams and final portfolios were, of course, my fondest memories… NOT. I had opportunities to meet so many people that I still call my friends. We came together for projects and studying and to help each other advance. We all had our strengths and insights. 

DES:  What advice can you give our current students?

NH:  It is never too late to be who you want or think you should be. Don’t let the hardships of life take away your vision, uniqueness, or artistic outlook on how you approach a project or challenge. Take time to breathe and focus on yourself while always pushing yourself forward. Dig in, stand strong, always be honest and caring, and in times when you just don’t know, reach out. Sometimes in life, it isn’t what you know but who you know.

The photos provided represent a variety of Nathan’s projects.

Mathis Brothers is a family-owned business with five locations in Oklahoma and California. Opening in 1960, they are one of the largest independent furniture retailers in the United States. You can learn more about Mathis Brothers at: https://www.mathisbrothers.com/

 

#CFADWorks: Lydia Myers

Interior Design Alumni Spotlight with Lydia Myers of HOK in Kansas City

Interior Design graduates are doing extraordinary things! Interior Design Alumni Spotlights are a new feature highlighting our talented graduates. These interviews allow you to learn about where our alumni work, the types of projects they do, and how their experiences during their time at UCO helped shape them into the designers they are today.

UCO DES: Where are you from?

Lydia Myers: Tulsa, Oklahoma

DES: What year did you graduate from UCO?

LM: May 2016

DES: What got you interested in interior design?

LM: I remember wanting to be an interior designer at the young age of eleven or twelve. I loved watching HGTV, and I thought I wanted to be a residential designer.

DES: Why did you decide to major in interior design?

LM: After taking an interior design course at Tulsa Tech, which exposed me to the world of commercial design, I knew I wanted to become a commercial designer.

DES: Did you double major or get a minor when you were in school?  If so, what other areas did you study?

LM:  I got a minor in Graphic Design. I also took a textile class and a sewing class.

DES: Where are you working? What areas do you specialize in with your design work? 

LM: I am an interior design professional at HOK in Kansas City, where I mainly work on sports projects. Designing locker rooms, clubs, suites, and recreation facilities.

DES: When you were a student, did you work? If so, where?

LM: I worked at a resort as an event staff member over the weekends. One of the biggest tasks of the weekend was working on housekeeping. We cleaned every building after the guests left. It really taught me to pay attention to small details, from folding towels down to cleaning windows, leaving no smudge behind.

DES: Where did you do your internship? How did that experience shape your future?

LM: I worked at Sherwin Williams paint store. I didn’t do an architecture/interior design internship; fortunately, that did not prevent me from getting my current job. I learned quite a bit about paints and stains while at Sherwin Williams, which was valuable in my career. 

DES: What was your first job out of college?

LM: I did an internship with Panolam Surfaces for the summer after graduation. It was a great experience. I was able to travel all over the United States and also to Vancouver. Before doing the internship, I planned on working in Oklahoma. However, after traveling to cities I had never been to before, I realized I was willing to leave Oklahoma. Without that internship, I might not have ever considered leaving.

DES: Were you involved in any campus activities or organizations when you were in school?  Were you in a leadership position?

LM: I volunteered in SIDA. I helped create posters and social media posts.

DES: Are you a member of a professional organization now as a practicing designer?

LM: I am a member of IIDA.

DES: Have you taken the NCIDQ exam? Any advice?

LM: I am currently studying for the NCIDQ. My advice is to take the first exam in school. I wish I had. Also, get a study group. It really helps to have a small support system all studying together to review questions and help each other.

DES: What is one of your fondest memories of your time at UCO?

LM: I am so blessed to have met my best friend while at UCO. We spent so much time together over those four years, eating, kayaking, hiking, shopping, and of course sitting on our sofas with laptops in our lap, designing magic! 

DES: What advice can you give our current students?

LM: Get a minor in graphic design; it will serve you well! 

DES: Do you have a favorite project you’ve worked on to date?

LM: One of my favorite projects was Lynn Family Stadium for the Louisville City Football Club. I worked on this project from design development through to completion. My favorite part of the design process was punching at the end of the project. I helped punch every seat in the 15,000 seat stadium. In addition, it had several outdoor bars, including one under the giant video board. There are 18 suites, a club serving those suites, along with the men’s and women’s locker rooms.

Lydia Myers and colleagues sitting in the locker room of the Louisville City Football Club Stadium.   Lydia Myers wearing a hard hat at work

LM:  The picture of my colleagues and me sitting in the cubbies was from when we punched the Louisville City Football Club Stadium.  This is the men’s soccer locker room. 

The links below are to projects Lydia has worked on with HOK:

Louisville City Football Club

North Carolina State Carmichael Gym

University of Wisconsin Natatorium  (This is the biggest project I have been a part of. We were drawing construction documents while working from home during the 2020 COVID pandemic. It will be complete in Spring of 2023, but you can follow the link above to the construction cam.)

University of Alabama Mal More Sports Science Center

HOK is a global design, architecture, engineering, and planning firm with 1,600 employees who collaborate across a network of 23 offices on three continents.  Fast Company ranked them as one of the most innovative companies of 2021. To learn more, visit:  https://www.hok.com/

Click here to learn more about the Interior Design program at UCO

UCO Department of Design Wins Big at Oklahoma ADDYs

The University of Central Oklahoma’s Department of Design continued their winning streak at the local 2019 American Advertising Awards (ADDYs) this February, capturing several top awards and solidifying a decade-long string of victories for this annual competition. In celebration of their success, the department will host an opening reception for a showcase of UCO students’ gold award-winning designs from 4-5 p.m. March 14 in the Donna Nigh Gallery, located on the third and fourth floors of the Nigh University Center on Central’s campus.

At the ADDYs Gala on Feb. 16 at The Criterion in Bricktown, OKC, UCO design students collectively won 23 gold, 27 silver and 18 bronze awards, with Amanda Dely chosen as Best of University for her campaign “Neon Cactus.” UCO student Jarrod Lovick secured the Special Judges Award for his illustration “Summer’s Last Scoop,” and the top award of the evening, Best of Show, went to UCO student Shuning Liu for “Forest Walk: Bear, House, Water.”

In the professional category, UCO Department of Design staff member and alumna Monique Ortman and current student William Muschinske together earned gold for “UCO CFAD Recruiting/Brand Campaign.” In addition, Ortman earned one gold, one silver and three bronze awards for her work.

“I am so proud of our student’s willingness to take a chance and see how they stack up locally, regionally and nationally,” said Amy Johnson, M.F.A., chair of the UCO Department of Design.

“Their willingness to take the risk, to see what will happen is a direct result of their faculty, the program and their own drive for excellence. I am thrilled by the outcome and I proudly congratulate our UCO Design students!”

The ADDYs is the advertising industry’s largest competition, attracting more than 40,000 entries every year. Winners of the Oklahoma ADDYs are invited to compete in the second tier of the competition at the district level. District winners are then eligible to compete in the national ADDYs.

The work of UCO design students advancing to the next stage of the competition will be featured in the exhibit opening March 14 and the showcase will remain on display through May 3.

“The unprecedented success of our design students at the ADDYs and in many other national competitions results from intentionally prioritizing student excellence,” said Steven Hansen, M.F.A., dean of the UCO College of Fine Arts and Design.

“The design faculty and academic leadership determined that we would support, encourage and mentor students toward best-in-nation distinction. The transformative learning experiences we offer our design students at UCO are arguably the best value of any design degree in America. Our students have responded by internalizing the importance of craft, pursuing exceptionalism and achieving the highest levels of professional creative excellence. I am so proud of them.”

For more information about the UCO Department of Design, visit design.uco.edu.

For more information about College of Fine Arts and Design events, visit cfad.uco.edu.


 

UCO Department of Design ADDY Winners:

Best of Show:

Shuning Liu, Forest Walk: Bear, House, Water

 

Special Judges Award:

Jarrod Lovick, Summer’s Last Scoop

 

Best of University:

Amanda Dely for Neon Cactus

 

Professional Winners:

Gold ADDY Winners:

Monique Ortman, In Command

William Muschinske and Monique Ortman, UCO CFAD Recruiting/Brand Campaign

 

Silver ADDY Winners:

Monique Ortman, Breakthrough!

 

Bronze ADDY Winners:

Monique Ortman, I <3 Design

Monique Ortman, 2018 ADDY Winners

 

Student Winners:

Gold ADDY Winners:

Adam Coe, Patience the Pangolin for WildAid

Amanda Dely, Maestro: Top Shelf Tequila Box Set

Amanda Dely, Meanwhile Back at the Ranch

Amanda Dely, Neon Cactus

Amanda Dely, The Pop-Up Shop by UCO Design

Amanda Dely, UCO Design Ad Campaign, proposed

Brenda Chavez, Oasis Home Improvement Supplies

Hayden Magar, Off Beat Bakewear

Hayla Perrone, 4Tune Teller

Holly Low, Jux Skate Shop

Jarrod Lovick, Summer’s Last Scoop

Jarrod Lovick, Things Unseen

Julia Weaver, Crunch Crunch Yum Cereal

Khang Nguyen, Crash site M2K

Mallory Rankin, Earthly Living Organics

Mallory Rankin, Catskill Distillery Whitelightening

Marissa Thelen, Pizza House

Mia, The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Rachel Kear, Astro Ramen

Shuning Liu, Forest Walk: Bear, House, Water

Sydni Levis-Nasada, Zone First Aid Supplies

Tam Tran, Aurea Perfume

William Muschinske, Serial Killers by the Numbers

 

Silver ADDY Winners:

Alex Sun, The Catharsis Collection

Amanda Dely, Paper Jam, the people

Amanda Dely, Patience the Pangolin for WildAid

Brenda Chavez, Nantli Cacao Chocolate

Hayden Magar, James and the Giant Peach

Hayden Magar, Sticks for the Zombies

Hayla Perrone, Personal Brand

Holly Low, In Cold Blood

Jarrod Lovick, Office Buzz

Jarrod Lovick, Paper Jam, Biker

Jarrod Lovick, The Great Bambino

Jason Rowlett, Minja, Mega Minis

Jason Rowlett, Spirit Halloween Car Wrap

Mandy Rochat, Hårtles

Marissa Thelen, Aspen Coffee rebrand

Marissa Thelen, Conspiratea

Marissa Thelen, Pellow Outreach

Marissa Thelen, Finite Eau de Parfum

Megan Sadeghy, Reptilot

My Le, Insective Candy

Nik Long, Patience the Pangolin for WildAid

Oanh Le, Patience the Pangolin for WildAid

Shannon Perrin, Snow White

Sydni Levis-Nasada, Defy Eau de Parfum

Sydni Levis-Nasada, Sconed

Sydni Levis-Nasada, Secret Garden, book cover

Tam Tran, Uomo

 

Bronze ADDY Winners:

Alex Sun, The Butterfly Effect Invitation

Alyssa Holcomb, Wile E. Coyote

Amanda Dely, Out Cold: Hot Cocoa for Insomnia

Amanda Dely, Pellow Outreach

Amanda Dely, Rift

Brenda Chavez, Alarm Juice

Colton Danker, Ultra Music Festival

Hayden Magar, Revved Up Performance Oil Filters

Holly Low, Hideous Beast Brewing

Holly Low, Queens of the Golden Age

Jason Rowlett, Beacon Cologne Spray

Jason Rowlett, Book Experience: The Foxman

Josh Schultz, Pokémon Go

Luke Wickberg, Xtinction

Marissa Thelen, Boujee Bites for Dogs

Shuning Liu, Chinese Love Story

Sydni Levis-Nasada, OK Needs Her

William Muschinske, Brooks Nguyen and Davis

#CFADWorks: Kevin Bergquist

As a Graphic Designer at Fulton Brewing Company in Minneapolis, MN, alumnus Kevin Bergquist demonstrates the skills he gained from the UCO College of Fine Arts and Design in his daily work.

Bergquist graduated from the University of Central Oklahoma in 2014 with a B.F.A. in Graphic Design and a minor in Illustration. Since then, he has used his educational experiences throughout his career, working independently as a screenprinter and freelance designer before beginning his current position at Fulton Brewing Company as a full-time Graphic Designer. His daily work involves designing anything from packaging to web graphics to posters for the company, providing ample opportunities to flex his creative muscles.

Last year, Bergquist’s unique illustration process was recognized by the British art and design publication “It’s Nice That.” Utilizing a scanner to distort his designs, the illustrator created a wobbling effect that offered movement and spontaneity to his compositions. To see examples of his work in this style and read the full feature by “It’s Nice That,” visit https://www.itsnicethat.com/articles/kevin-bergquist-illustration-060917.

View Bergquist’s most recent series of designs below:


Question & Answer with Sculptural Artist, Stacey Holloway

Written by Kyle Cohlmia, curator of the UCO Melton Gallery

Stacey Holloway, artist and Assistant Professor at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, visited UCO’s campus last week to install her sculptures for the Melton Gallery’s current exhibit “Flight of the Elephant,” a project spearheaded by UCO Design Department Chair, Amy Johnson.

A small scupture of Amelia the elephant walking on stilts The story of “Flight of the Elephant,” created by Johnson and Sam Ladwig and illustrated by Jime Wimmer, Adam Coe and Semin Park, narrates the migration of a creative and determined elephant, Amelia. Ladwig, who worked with Holloway at the Herron School of Art & Design, knew she would be a perfect fit to produce works directly inspired by their story.

When Holloway arrived to the Melton Gallery, she hopped out of her van and cheerfully pulled out her electric drill, which she subsequently did not put down for the rest of the day. Her polished and meticulous technique for creating sculptural work was apparent as she began to un-drill a large wooden crate system that she built by herself to safely transport her work from Birmingham to UCO. As I watched Holloway drill together eight-foot tall stilts, hang a flying elephant from the ceiling and piece together a miniature scene of an iron-cast herd, I saw Amelia’s story come to life.

A large sculpture of Amelia the elephant on stilts alongside smaller tableaus depicting the elephant herd

Prior to Holloway’s arrival, I asked her a few questions in order to get a better sense of her work. Our Q & As are below, highlighting her inspiration for this particular exhibit and work in ecology and visual storytelling. 

 

Kyle Cohlmia: Is each installation a part of a larger story of the elephant, Amelia? Were you directly inspired by the design work from Jime Wimmer and her collaborators Adam Coe and Semin Park?

Stacey Holloway: Yes, to both of these. I love the story of Amelia that Jime created, and I really wanted to make sure that I’m illustrating the story correctly, but in three-dimensional form. The idea of flight is something that shows up in my work quite often. Flight, for me, is a representation of something that we strive for; something that we achieve.

KC: Do specific parts of these installations serve as metaphors for larger issues? If so, which parts (stilts, wings, etc.) and what do they represent?

SH: Stilts and wings have always represented the idea of growth for me. Stilts are so interesting because they are used for both entertainment and in building. I first began putting animals on stilts within my work to illustrate the idea of having to learn to walk all over again; not fearing change or having to start something new. Everyone worries about change, but usually you learn, gain or achieve something new from change.

KC: How do these installations compare to your past works (in both content and process)?

SH: I’ve often portrayed the idea of flight and narratives in my work, but I consider myself a visual storyteller, so collaborating on this project was perfect. Following Jime’s story, I am able to exhibit work that illustrates a more extensive story/idea than what I usually do. I am also extremely intrigued by interspecies friendships and often depict different animals interacting with each other. The idea of two creatures (with different physical characteristics and capabilities) using their combined attributes to make their “herd” stronger is a concept I often use.

KC: What draws you to the subject of ethology?

SH: I use animals in my work because their specific attributes can be used as metaphors of human nature. As a child, my mother and I volunteered at a wildlife rehabilitation center, rode horses together and our home was practically a zoo. My family and I have strong empathetic connections with animals. I had such unique childhood experiences with animals—nursing a flying squirrel back to health to helping mom train and raise a disabled cockatiel. I actually wanted to be a veterinarian as a child, but was drawn to art at an early age. It wasn’t until graduate school that I found that I could use my interest in animals to translate my ideas to my viewer.

Humans are not so different than other animals; we just have more direct ways of communicating with each other. Animals have their own methods of communication; body language,  sounds and scents are used to declare disfavor, profess love, announce dominance and express pain. Just like other mammals, human growth can be intimidating and exciting, which is typical; however, we spend a great deal of effort masking this from each other.

I’m often drawn to herd animals. I’ve been particularly interested in exploring the notions of adaptability and acceptance because of my nephew’s struggle with social autism. Through my research, I have found that interspecies adoption and friendships have become common occurrences, so I often use one “outsider” herd animal and embed them into another herd, either exaggerating the anxiety and fear of the “outsider” or posing them in a way to express their desire to be accepted.

 

“Flight of the Elephant” will be at the Melton Gallery through Oct. 25 with an opening reception on Oct. 13 from 5:30-8:30 pm. The gallery opening precedes musical performances by the UCO Wind Symphony presenting the world premiere of an original score by Scott McAllister. Performances are at 7 p.m. 8:30 p.m. at Mitchell Hall Theatre. To reserve seats for the performances, visit www.mitchellhalltheatre.com or call the Mitchell Hall Box Office at 405-974-3375.

All donations and 50% of art sales during the exhibit directly benefit WildAid, an organization that raises awareness of the elephant poaching crisis, supports lawmakers in banning ivory sales and measurably reduces consumer demand for ivory.

The Melton Gallery is free and open to the public 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays and on Fridays by appointment. For more information about the Melton Gallery, visit www.meltongallery.com.

For a complete listing of UCO College of Fine Arts and Design events and performances, please visit cfad.uco.edu