Nikki Benson '08's party set.
Sean Cahill '08's punctuated samurai.

COMMA, COLON: EXCLAMATION POINT!
Local gallery to host Moravian students' sentenceless statements.

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but how much can you say using only commas, periods, parenthesis and ampersands? Students in associate professor of art Anne Dutlinger's graphic design class had to figure that out when she assigned them to create products with graphics consisting solely of punctuation marks: no letters, numbers or words allowed. The results included note cards, note pads, T-shirts, jewelry, wine glasses, and other items sporting everything from apostrophes to asterisks. Commercial versions of many of the products will be available for sale at Bethlehem store and art gallery Home and Planet during next month's First Friday evening festivities (December 7, Southside Bethlehem).

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."
 
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. Earlier this week, 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.

 

Ampersand Sam, a display created by Colleen Kane '08, holds cards featuring Sam and his counterpart Bracket Bust Betsy.

Fatima Somji '07 (December graduate) designed black-and-white wrapping paper, taking inspiration from the patterns of henna tattoos. "I've been creating henna tattoos since I was a child," she says. She found that the parameters of the assignment were actually a good spur to creativity. "Limiting our choices to just punctuation marks actually opened up my mind, and I just ran with it."