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Graphic Design Students Create Array of Products Adorned with Punctuation Marks

Note cards, T-shirts, jewelry, wine glasses, and more available at Home and Planet in Bethlehem

Bethlehem, Pa., December 3, 2007— Graphic design students at Moravian College have created an array of useful products that cleverly incorporate commas, periods, parenthesis, and ampersands in the designs.  Commercial versions of many of the products, including note cards, note pads, T-shirts, jewelry, wine glasses, and other items will be offered for sale at Bethlehem store and art gallery Home and Planet during First Friday evening festivities on December 7.

The Punctuation Project at Moravian began when students in associate professor of art Anne Dutlinger's graphic design class were assigned to create products with graphics consisting solely of punctuation marks: no letters, numbers or words allowed. In past years, Dutlinger had students create punctuation sculptures. This is the first time that the class was charged with using recycled materials and the first time that their work has been printed for sale to the public. In preparation, the class studied the history of punctuation, how it developed to guide readers as more people began to read.

For some students, using punctuation marks to communicate ideas was a natural fit. “Of course, our generation uses text messaging and ‘smilies’ a lot,” says Nikki Benson ’08. ‘So I looked some up, and I happened to like these inebriated smiley faces that I found.” Inspired by that, she created a set of napkins and party glasses adorned with simple, playful graphics likely to put a smile on any partygoer's face. Sean Cahill ’08 took a different approach, piling layers of punctuation on top of each other to create the complex, Rorschach-like samurai face on his note cards. “I had to be careful not to overdo it,” he says. “A big part of being an artist is knowing when to stop.” To view images visit: http://www.moravian.edu/news/inCommon2/07_11_16/article1.html

Dutlinger notes the value of mining the past for inspiration.  “Punctuation marks having been with us so long that most of us barely notice them. In design, most of what you see is something that's been recently copied from something else,” Dutlinger notes. “There's nothing so old that it isn't interesting. The further back you go, the more likely you are to see things you haven't seen in contemporary usage, which can be mined and used to generate fresh ideas.”

During the project, students gained practical experience in working with a printer.  “The students learn that it's one thing to make something and then print it out on your printer. And if you design something that really can't be printed because it’s set up wrong, too complicated or you haven’t understood how a press works, you have a problem. They've learned something of the realty and transformation and letting go and collaboration that is absolutely part of the enterprise of design. They're very used to thinking of themselves as this artist-producer who is autonomous. And that's a myth.”

An opportunity to show and sell came about when professor Dutlinger described her students' projects to Home & Planet's owner, who was so impressed that he invited the class to a joint showing with a Lehigh University product design class. Recently, the two groups met in the West Hall graphics classroom to see each others' work. The Lehigh students brought products they’d created from environmentally friendly materials, including a coffee table made from cork scraps, napkins made of bamboo fabric and a “voodoo” cork board for people who want to pin up notes and stick symbolic pins in their enemies at the same time. The Lehigh and Moravian students spent about an hour in each others' company, discussing their projects and sharing some pizza and snacks.

Moravian students participating in the project include: Lynsey Augustus ’09, Dover, Del.; Nikki Benson’08, Mehoopany, Pa.; Jessica Bodine ’08, Moorestown, N.J.; Sean Cahill ’08, Rumson, N.J.; Brandon Cohn, ’08, Newtown Square, Pa.; Courtney Connelly ’08, Quakertown, Pa.; Mike Gulick’08, Bethlehem, Pa.; Colleen Kane ’08, Bethlehem, Pa.; Robyn Klem’08, Allentown, Pa.; Justin Klement ’08, Whitehall, Pa.; Trevor Lawrence ’08, Lawrence, Pa.; Garrett Lesusky ’07, Macungie, Pa.; Fatima Somji ’07, Whitehall, Pa.; Khizer Tariq ’08, Bethlehem, Pa.; and Quynh Vo ’11, Whitehall. Pa.

Many of the student artist will be at Home and Planet on December 7th. Their work will be displayed in the store through the end of December.

Moravian College is a private, coeducational, selective liberal arts college located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Tracing its founding to 1742, it is recognized as America's sixth-oldest college. Visit the Web site at www.moravian.edu.