Thinking inside the box

Jessica M. Kanalas

Exhibit of class projects represents each student’s individuality, creativity

Decorated black boxes, made by the underclassman in this semester’s Fashion Visuals class, are on display in the June F. Mohler Fashion Library in Rockwell Hall. Jessica M. Kanalas | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: DKS Editors

Introductions are typically made with a handshake and a smile.

But that’s not how things always go -at least not for the students of associate professor Vincent Quevedo.

Quevedo teaches Fashion Visuals, an introductory class to students entering into the fashion program.

Students were asked to introduce themselves by decorating a small black box, making sure to include words, a self-portrait and any decorations that helped fill the back, middle and foreground.

“With all these parameters, they had to introduce themselves to us,” Quevedo said. “It shows their interpretations and interests.”

Freshmen and sophomores completed the boxes, and they are on display in the June F. Mohler Fashion Library in hopes to gain attention for the work of the younger students. It gives underclassmen a chance to show their work when a lot of the emphasis is normally on the seniors, Quevedo said.

This is the first year the class has done this project, and because of such great feedback, Quevedo said, the display, which was originally supposed to be on display for this week only, will be kept up for another two weeks.

Although the students had only two days to create their personalized boxes, Quevedo gave them an ultimatum: Each student could turn in his or her box if he or she wished and accept the grade he gave them, or each could have another two days to complete the assignment.

However, the extra two days came with a catch – the project must have been completely redone, starting at the beginning with a new black box.

“They aren’t little kids anymore,” Quevedo said. “It shows their strengths.”

He noted the students must be mature enough to decide if they can do a better job and take on the responsibility of their decision.

“I want to celebrate their best things,” he said, adding that sometimes that means giving them another chance to show what really is the best.

Associate Professor Tom Gates, head of the architecture and fashion libraries, said the black boxes displayed in front of the fashion library’s glass windows allow visitors to view the students’ work from the outside of the space.

“Their clever stacking in a curvilinear configuration contrasts to the angle of the windows where they join to form a corner,” he said. “The library staff has observed people looking in the windows throughout the day, examining the black boxes with great interest.”

The boxes represent each student as an individual.

“And when put with others, can create another kind of artwork,” said Quevedo, who displayed the projects together to show unity as one class.

Freshman design major David Siferd said he thought the class was cool.

“I like that we can be creative,” he said. “I had flowers coming out of my head (on his self-portrait) and cats coming out of the flowers.”

Siferd also had the words “feisty, fierce and ferocious” repeated on his project.

But Siferd’s project isn’t the only thing that is “fierce.”

“Project Rockwell” will be the name of a showcase put on by the Fashion Visuals classes toward the end of the semester. The black box project, among others, will be joined together and put on display to show the students’ hard work.

Quevedo, along with instructor Sara Sandberg, who also teaches the class, wants the students to see the progress they made throughout the class.

He called fashion a cutthroat business.

“To succeed doesn’t mean to get an ‘A.’ A select few get ‘A’s,'” Quevedo said, “but it’s about being proud of the work you did.”

“Project Rockwell” will include a fashion show design competition and the best projects from the semester.

“You can be brutally honest with students without tearing them down,” Quevedo said. “I believe in encouraging students with positive reinforcement.”

Quevedo and Sandberg want the students to come up with excitement for somewhat dry topics. As the projects get more difficult, they also get more creative.

“I’m like a proud parent,” Quevedo said smiling. “I want them to get just as much attention as the first born.”

Contact fashion beat reporter Jessica M. Kanalas at [email protected].