Exhibit honors VCD professor, artist Darling

Christopher Darling, an assistant professor of visual communication design at Kent State, died unexpectedly this weekend. 

Christopher Darling, an assistant professor of visual communication design at Kent State, died unexpectedly this weekend. 

Brady Warmbein Reporter

A woman is sketched in red pencil. Her face, half-illuminated in red shadow, stands out along with her dark makeup. Her naked breasts hang loose on her chest, while she sits and leans slightly to the right of the page.

A human-deer hybrid wearing white underwear sleeps under translucent covers. A football player stands on a rock-like pedestal beside a woman, who has fetuses braided into her hair.

All these images were created by Christopher Darling, a visual communication design professor who died by suicide June 2018. His artwork went on display in the Taylor Hall art gallery Thursday, which will be available to students and faculty until March 19.

Darling taught illustration and digital design at Kent State starting in 2014. He had a freelance career with commissions from Sony, the United Nations and the New Yorker. His interests included social justice and working with incarcerated men and women in America.

“The boy who loved to draw” enjoyed everything about his job, Deborah Darling, Chris’ mother and a poet, said.

“He pretty much lived his dream,” she said. “He loved the students and he was really good at what he did.”

Further traits of Darling shone through his work, Doug Goldsmith, an assistant professor in the School of VCD, said.

“He was a humanitarian and altruistic,” Goldsmith said. “He had the biggest heart of almost anyone I’ve ever known. Looking at the stuff he did when he was in school, it all deals with social activism in the human condition.”

Deborah Darling and her family showcased her son’s designs at their local art venue in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Afterward, Darling approached Kathy McConaughy, professional in residence, with the idea of creating an art gallery to honor her son’s impact.

 “His mom really wanted to have this show come to campus so that the creative community, including the students that knew him, could enjoy it,” McConaughy said.

Over 70 pieces of artwork, ranging from drawings in sketchbooks to photographs of murals, hang on the gallery walls. 

Kelsey Velemirovich, a senior VCD major and former student of Darling’s, said she was impressed with the breadth of work.

“It’s interesting to see that there is process work and his finished pieces,” Velemirovich said. “There’s just a lot of his personality in it.”

Darling left a message for both students and faculty with the opening of the art gallery.

“Be diversified,” Goldsmith said. “Be prolific, and then never stop doing your work. Put your heart, your soul, your mind, what you’re feeling and how you react to the world into your work. Allow that to be your vehicle. When I look at everything in here, it’s Christopher’s creative skill. It is finding a voice and hoping to reach society or anyone who looks at his work.”

Contact Brady Warmbein at [email protected].