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SPC launches international film series for students, community

Partnering with embassies and cultural organizations, St. Petersburg College is launching its own free international film series open to its students and faculty, and welcomes the surrounding local communities to take part. 

The first of the series, a Mexican classic, "Frida Kahlo: naturaleza viva,'' will take place at 6:30 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 18, at the SPC Clearwater Campus Arts Auditorium

"Part of my job is strategic internationalization, to increase global engagement for students here and engage the community in global awareness,'' says Ramona Kirsch, Director for the Center for International Programs. "International films have always played a part in bringing awareness and understanding of other cultures.''

St. Pete College has a surprisingly robust international program including 16 faculty-led programs for study abroad, and nearly 200 international students from 56 countries. Kirsch says the college is committed to providing its students a rich educational experience and making it relevant to the world. 

The first film, timed to coincide with National Hispanic Heritage Month and in partnership with the Mexican Consulate, is a biography of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. Kirsch says they chose this film to kick of the series for its relevance to the Clearwater campus and its ties to the sizable local Hispanic community. Prior to the film, SPC will host a Hispanic food and Information Fair in front of the Auditorium. 

The timing and content of the remaining films -- four in total -- is still being finalized, but the subsequent screenings will be spread out to other SPC campuses: St. Petersburg/Gibbs, Tarpon Springs and Seminole.

"Our hope is that this becomes an annual event,'' says Kirsh. "We have 10 learning centers, so we hope that they will all host at least one and that it will be ongoing for the community, not just for faculty, staff and students.''

Urban Conga Transforms Downtown Parking Spaces On National Park(ing) Day

On September 19, a handful of metered parking spaces in downtown Tampa will take on a different purpose.  Instead of cars, you’ll find car parts, art and musicians.

As part of National Park(ing) Day, Urban Conga, a group of local creatives who promote community awareness through the use of play, will be taking over random parking spaces and turning them into parks. The goal is to encourage less driving and more walkability in the downtown area.

National Park(ing) Day is a worldwide event that began in 2005 by Rebar, a San Francisco-based art and design studio. The idea is for artists and activists to create debate about how urban space is allocated by transforming parking spaces into temporary public spaces. The event is now a global movement, with 162 cities in 35 countries expected to participate this year.

Urban Conga collaborated with University of South Florida art student Maeghann Coleman to design the spaces in downtown Tampa. The music-themed area will feature old tires and other car parts that can be used to make music, as well as a musical bench with piano keys. Jazz musicians from USF will also participate.

"It’s the idea of tactical urbanism," says Ryan Swanson, co-founder of Urban Conga. "We want to bring people there, not only to hang out but also to play."  

The Florida chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA Florida) recently ran a statewide parklet competition, in which Urban Conga received second place for their design. The $1200 prize will be used to fund the project. The City of Tampa is also supporting the project through the allocation of the parking spaces for the day.

Urban Conga is also promoting collaboration by asking people to send in pictures of what they’re doing in their areas.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Ryan Swanson, Urban Conga

Florida Bookstore Day Celebrates Local Bookstores, Authors

Tiffany Razzano was driving down Central Avenue in downtown St. Petersburg when she spotted a poster in the storefront window at Daddy Cool Records promoting Record Store Day. She then drove past Wilson’s Book World and thought, "Why is there no bookstore day?"

She did some research only to learn that California is the only state that has fully developed the concept of a bookstore day.

So why not Florida? Why not now? she thought. The result?

The inaugural Florida Bookstore Day will take place at independent and used bookstores in cities throughout the state on November 15, concentrating on the Tampa Bay area, where Razzano runs Wordier Than Thou, a group that supports creative writers through open mic events, a literary magazine and a radio show.

"I wanted to do something big," says Razzano. "It’s a celebration of independent bookstores and the writing community. People won’t even know they’re at a literary event."

Her goal is to showcase local bookstores and the writing community. Soon after she started talking up the concept in social media and elsewhere, Razzano connected with book lovers in Orlando who wanted to be part of the celebration. Bookstores from the Panhandle to the Florida Keys have now signed on to participate. Expect a day of book releases and author signings, open mics and workshops on literary topics

Local participants include: Inkwood Books, Mojo Books and Music, Old Tampa Book Company and Oxford Exchange in Tampa, Standup Librarians, Wilson’s Book World and Wings Bookstore in St. Petersburg, Book Bank in Largo and Back in the Day Books in Dunedin.

An after party will take place at the Venture Compound in St. Petersburg, featuring local authors and literary organizations, the Bluebird Books Bus, raffles and food trucks.

The event is sponsored by Florida Antiquarian Book Fair and also received a grant from Awesome Tampa Bay.
 
Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Tiffany Razzano, Florida Bookstore Day

How To Create A Custom Song For Your Special Event

When a couple wanting to have a baby got the news that they were expecting, the sister of the mother-to-be commemorated the event in a uniquely modern way: by requesting a custom song for the new family.
 
CustomSong, an entrepreneurial startup based in the Tampa Bay region, brings musicians from around the world together on one website. Customers can request an artist or have one assigned to create a personalized piece of music for a special event, from birthdays to baby showers. Choose between a range of styles like acoustic guitar, soft romantic piano and full band.

Songs can be gifted or earmarked for a specific event, like the parent's dance at a wedding or a custom birthday tune. Customers fill in the details for lyrics, communicating directly with the artist via the Custom Song platform. Once lyrics are finalized and approved, the artist will record the song.

"It's a song that is truly original and personal, created just for you,'' says Custom Song cofounder Heather Andrews of Tampa. "It really helps create a special moment.''

Andrews, a graduate of James Madison University in Virginia, and co-Founder Kristina Anderson of Clearwater, a USF grad, operate CustomSong out of their home offices, local co-working spaces and coffee shops.   

If you are making a video or photo montage of the event, says Andrews, your custom song is a natural soundtrack.

CustomSong began in 2013 and launched in summer 2014, but Andrews had the idea in mind for years. The personalized event product concept was inspired by Custom Ink, where Andrews previously worked.

"Working there and making these custom shirts for special events, I saw that customers were so happy with them,'' says Andrews. "Being a part of a business where you can create something specifically for a customer that gets them excited, I was in search of, 'what can I do to be in that area of business?' ''

Despite a self-professed inability to carry a tune, Andrews and Anderson decided to try the world of music-making. They began to notice that while some individual artists were offering custom songs, they were struggling when it came to things like turnaround and customer service.
 
"They just want to create good quality music,'' Andrews says. "We thought there was a good opportunity there to create the platform, be the business side of it, and manage all of the back-end details for a site where artists could offer their services.''
 
The site standardizes things like pricing, quality, song length and turnaround time (two weeks).

"We give both the customer and the artist a guarantee, something to feel confident and comfortable with,'' says Andrews.
 
Sample songs are available on the CustomSong website.
 
From online research to attending Open Mic nights, scouting new talent is an aspect of Custom Song that Andrews and Anderson are discovering takes time.

A small number of musicians from the United States and the UK are currently active on the site. The cofounders plan to expand into other areas and attract more foreign-language speaking artists.
 
"We're trying to grow more artists, but to do it carefully and slowly. We want to make sure the artists also have a great experience,'' says Andrews. "The platform is very targeted to customers, but it's also a channel for artists to earn additional income. We want to find people who have creativity and talent, and work with them one-on-one to make sure that they fit with our model.''

Interested in creating music with Custom Song? Sign up here.

The most rewarding aspect of the process for Andrews is knowing that custom songs are a part of moments like weddings or expecting a new baby.

"I don't know the couple, but just knowing the background story, it touches me,'' she says. "It's amazing to be part of creating these songs for those big events in life.''

Writer: Justine Benstead
Source: Heather Andrews, CustomSong

Sarasota Welcomes Heated Exchange Art Exhibit, French Connection

Art Center Sarasota hopes to engage locals and tourists alike with its 2014-15 exhibition series.

The series kicks off October 23 with a traveling exhibit titled Heated Exchange, which features encaustic art, or arts made of molten wax using heated tools. This little known art process can be used for painting, sculptures and other mediums.

The biggest exhibition of the season will be unveiled in May. Titled "Confluence France," the display is part of an 8-year series showcasing artwork and artists from regions and countries where Sarasota has a sister city. Sister Cities International pairs cities with those in other countries with whom they share interests, whether it be due to historical connections, a trade relationship, strong expatriate communities or personal experiences. Sarasota has nine sister cities in all, with this exhibit focusing on Perpignon France. The confluence series began in 2013 with a focus on Tel Mond, Israel.

"We’re finding ways to mutually benefit and grow each other’s municipalities," says Emma Thurgood, exhibitions curator for Arts Center Sarasota.

The series is the first international exhibition for the Center.

The Center is also running a community project allowing people to create pieces of paper installation that will be featured in galleries as part of a Collective Paper Aesthetics exhibit in May and June 2015.

The over 20 exhibitions taking place in the next year were funded in part by a Tourist Development Center (TDC) grant awarded by the Sarasota County Commission, designated for tourist development.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Emma Thurgood, Art Center Sarasota

St. Petersburg Greenhouse Launches Craft Entrepreneurship Program

Etsy, the most popular online marketplace for handmade items, is collaborating with cities across the U.S. to make it easier for crafters to supplement their income through workshops and expert advice. Because of its thriving arts culture, St. Petersburg was recently selected as one of 10 cities to pilot the program this year.

The program started last March in Rockford IL and has since expanded to places like Newark NJ and Santa Cruz County, Dallas TX.  The idea is to create an open source curriculum that can be used by other areas to run their own classes.

Unlike most economic development programs that provide tools to start businesses, Etsy’s goal is to provide supplemental income for people out of work during seasonal periods or perhaps to help a household boost itself over the poverty line.

Local classes will be hosted by the St. Petersburg Greenhouse, a collaborative effort between the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce and City of St. Petersburg. Classes are free and available to crafters who have not sold on Etsy in the past.

Classes are taught by local craft sellers who have been successful using Etsy as an outlet. Topics include time management, branding, pricing, shipping and photography. Participants will be able to sell their first 20 items for free on Etsy. The first session begins August 4.

"Here in St. Petersburg, such a large part of our economy and what makes us go is in the arts," says Sean Kennedy, Greenhouse Manager and Economic Development Coordinator for the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce. "We think it’s important to help artists be in the best position to succeed financially as well as develop their craft."

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Sean Kennedy, St. Petersburg Greenhouse

Embracing Our Differences Receives Donation For Art, Inclusion Programs

A recent donation will allow even more K-12 students in Sarasota and Manatee Counties to appreciate diversity through art.

Sarasota-based home builder Neal Communities recently donated $10,000 to support the efforts of Embracing Our Differences. A project of Coexistence Inc., Embracing our Differences’ mission is to create awareness and promote the value of diversity and inclusion, particularly among youth. The nonprofit achieves this through community-based outdoor art exhibits as well as teacher training.

The organization's pinnacle event is its annual juried art exhibit, which displays billboard-sized images in downtown Sarasota and Bradenton. The images depict diversity and acceptance through the use of art and writing.

"It's about teaching the next generation how to get along,'' says Michael Shelton, Executive Director for Embracing our Differences. The organization focuses on relevant topics such as bullying, making a statement in a visual and effective way.

Through working with the Sarasota and Manatee County school districts as well as other educational organizations, Embracing our Differences was able to reach over 30,000 children during the 2013-14 school year.

The funding will be used to support educational programming such as the "Make-a-Day-of-It!" program, which provides free bus transportation for students and teachers to view the outdoor exhibit and other cultural venues, including Florida Studio Theatre, Mote Marine Aquarium and Ringling Museum. More than 13,000 students participated in the program last year, and the additional funding will make it possible for close to 25,000 to participate this year.

"Teaching children at a very young age will have not only a societal benefit, but a huge economic benefit as well from those who buy into it and accept it," says Shelton.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Michael Shelton, Embracing our Differences

The Beer Project Taps Into Arts, Crafts And Beer Scene

Downtown St. Petersburg turns into a mecca for beer and art lovers June 12-14.

The Beer Project is the merging of beer crafts and craft beer, showcasing the growing craft beer and arts industries in St. Petersburg.

The event is the first of its kind for St. Petersburg, presented by the Museum of Fine Arts in partnership with Green Bench Brewing, St. Petersburg's first craft microbrewery. It’s all about inspiration, bringing together artists, authors, venues, businesses and home brewers to enjoy beer inspired by art and art inspired by beer.

Green Bench Brewing Company will introduce new recipes inspired by the Museum’s collections. Double Rice IPA, brewed with a base of rice and Japanese hop called Sorachi Ace, was inspired by the Asian collection. The Agave Green Chili Blonde Ale will also be introduced, infused with lime peel known as Rubia Caliente and inspired by the Museum’s recently closed New Mexican piece.

"It will be exciting to see what their interpretation is on our collection. It’s a nice pairing of art and craft and business," says Mary Szaroleta, associate curator of public programming at the Museum of Fine Arts.

Authors Shawn Bowman of Portland and Gerard Walen will be on hand to sign copies of their books. Bowman’s wearable jewelry, birdhouse and sculptures using beer can and bottle parts will inspire new ways to use resources. Walen’s book, Florida Breweries, lists some of the best places to find beer in the State of Florida.

Participants will taste home brewed beer and vote for their favorite from over 40 local home brews at a competition sanctioned by the American Home Brewers Association.

An art walk turned beer trail will drive beer lovers into the downtown arts districts, where seven arts venues will offer tastings.

"We’re trying to engage people who don’t normally go into the galleries to see what is downtown and to also taste local brewing companies’ beers," says Szaroleta.

Other event partners include: Cigar City Brewing, Brew Bus Tampa Bay, CD Roma Restaurant and Avid Brewing and Growing Supplies.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Mary Szaroleta, Museum of Fine Arts

Florida Designer Selected To Attend National Summit

Missy Palasol loves to design: "I live it, I breathe it, I eat it."

Her portfolio includes boutique, high-end restaurants and shops to old warehouses converted into tenant spaces. She has worked in a diverse set of industries, from hospitality to medical.

Her diverse experience and passion for the work led her to be selected as one of 12 designers in the nation to participate in Cambria’s third annual Style Maker’s Summit in Minneapolis, MN.

The Summit brought together some of the most influential designers in the nation along with local Cambria representatives for an exclusive, behind the scenes experience with the latest of the company’s products. The designers met with the development team and provided opinions on what’s trending and the company’s direction. The group also learned about company operations. "It was quite something," says Palasol.

Palasol began her career in Philadelphia in 1997, receiving training in architecture and interior design. She now resides in the Orlando area, working as an Interior Design Associate at Baker Barrios, an architecture and interior design firm. She was recently promoted to Associate and hopes to continue to grow with the company, helping to make it even broader and more diverse.

"It’s an exciting time," notes Palasol. "It’s great to see the economy finally turning around. You can tell by how much work is coming in and who is hiring."

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Missy Palasol, Baker Barrios

Young Chinese Artists Make U.S. Debut At 2 Tampa Bay Area Art Museums

An unprecedented look inside modern Chinese art of will be on display this summer in Tampa and St. Petersburg through a pioneering exhibit featuring 27 emerging artists from China.

"My Generation: Young Chinese Artists'' features work shown for the first time outside of China. The exhibit opens to the public at both the Tampa Museum of Art and the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Pete on Saturday, June 7th. The exhibit also features a series of related lectures and performances, such as an exploration of the history of "Red Rock'' -- the Chinese rock scene and corresponding concert, another first to the Tampa Bay region.

Hand-picked and curated by Author Barbara Pollack, one of America's foremost authorities on Chinese art, the young artists have almost all grown up under their nation's one-child policy and tend toward subtlety where politics are concerned. Yet they express issues of alienation, self-definition, cynicism and rebellion though their work in variety of media. The environment, reaction to massive urban areas, the paradoxical market economy, the personal side of growing up as only children and the pressure for marriage and family despite sexual orientation are backdrop themes to much of the work.

The exhibit will ''introduce us to parts of Chinese culture that we know nothing about and I think people will be really surprised,'' says David Connelly, an MFA spokesperson.

"This exhibition represents a milestone in the life of this institution, and our partnership with the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg is an important step forward for the nature of regional partnerships,'' says Todd Smith, Executive Director of the Tampa Museum of Art, who originated the project and recently resigned to pursue another museum opportunity in California.

The collaboration between the two museums is an innovative approach that allows more art to be shown. For example, one of the more acclaimed artists in the show, Sun Xun, is creating a large installation specifically for the MFA, utilizing animation and drawings, which will take up an entire gallery.
 
At the same time, the concurrent approach cross-pollinates the region's art lovers. The museums are offering a $20 discounted combination ticket so that visitors can enjoy the full experience.

"We are hoping that with the outstanding innovative work in the show,'' museum patrons and art lovers will cross Tampa Bay to see both exhibits, says Connelly.
 
"My Generation: Young Chinese Artists,'' will be on view June 7 through Sept. 21, 2014. The exhibit will then travel to the Oklahoma City Museum of Art for display later this year.

Writer: Kendra Langlie
Sources: David Connelly, Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg
 

Ping Pong, Anyone? Urban Conga Wants You To Play In Downtown Tampa

Residents and visitors in downtown Tampa will soon have another reason to get social.

Ping pong tables will be installed in parks in downtown, starting with Lykes Gaslight.

The project is the latest from Urban Conga, a group of Tampa Bay creatives who use play to encourage the community to utilize urban spaces with interactive installations such as the Wall of Creativity at the recent Sunset Music Festival.

"We wanted to figure out a way to bring this idea of play in a more permanent way to the city of Tampa," says Ryan Swanson, Urban Conga co-founder.

The idea came about when Swanson backpacked around Europe and noticed ping pong tables everywhere in large cities like Berlin, Paris and Barcelona, as well as in U.S. cities like New York and Boston. He wondered why there are none in our local cities. After discovering how expensive and bulky typical public ping pong tables are, Swanson decided to design a table himself for a fraction of the price.

As an added benefit, local businesses will hold on to paddles and balls, driving people into their space. For a small deposit, people will rent the equipment and then receive their money back upon return.

"Bringing these tables to downtown will be a small but large impact on creating more street level activity in downtown Tampa," says Swanson.

Urban Conga recently received $1,000 from Awesome Tampa Bay to build the first tables.

"We really like this project because it’s big, fun and really creative," says Rafaela Amador, Dean of Awesomeness for Awesome Tampa Bay. "We like what Urgan Conga is trying to do. We want to support that kind of creative infrastructure in people in Tampa."

Plans are to install tables in downtown St. Petersburg after the Tampa tables are complete.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Rafaela Amador, Awesome Tampa Bay; Ryan Swanson, Urban Conga

Dali Museum, MOSI Tampa Celebrate Merging Of Art, Science

A new partnership between two Tampa Bay area museums will provide visitors with an interactive experience that engages the mind and senses.

The Dali Museum in St. Petersburg and Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) in Tampa are partnering this summer as a way to encourage patrons to cross the bridges separating the Bay to experience what both museums have to offer. Dali had a fascination with illusion and was interested in math and science as well, making the partnership a natural one.

The Dali Museum will showcase a lot of the permanent collection that involves different types of perception and dimension, while MOSI’s focus will be on 3D.

The highpoint of the Dali Museum’s exhibit, Marvels of Illusion, is an interactive piece allowing visitors to download a mobile app that will allow them to become a part of a painting. The painting used for the exhibit is Dali’s 1976 painting: "Gala Contemplating the Mediterranean Sea Which at Twenty Meters Becomes the Portrait of Abraham Lincoln (Homage to Rothko)." Close up, you see a female figure intended to be Dali’s wife, Gala. As you step back, it becomes a portrait of Abraham Lincoln.

"It’s the kind of thing that really fascinates kids, and people of all ages," says Kathy Greif, Marketing Director for the Dali Museum.

The partnership will feature art displays at MOSI and science displays at the Dali Museum. The museums will also have reciprocal lectures, and visitors to one museum will receive half off admission to the other.

"In both cases, it’s a great place to visit no matter if you’re 2 or 100," says Greif.

Marvels of Illusion runs June 14 – October 12 at the Dali Museum.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Kathy Greif, The Dali Museum

Lakeland Art Installation Honors Veterans, Public Servants

A new public art installation in Lakeland pays tribute to veterans, police, firefighters and emergency responders.

The piece is a collaboration among Platform Art, Polk County Veterans Council and Lakeland youth.

Platform Art worked with Polk County Public Schools to provide workshops for high school teachers to help them incorporate 3D curriculum into their classrooms. They then held a design challenge, asking students to create a sculpture that represents public agencies using a one foot square footprint. Over 60 students responded to the challenge.

The winner was Lake Region High School senior Maria Vazquez, whose sculpture was then fabricated on a larger scale in glass and steel by regional artist Tom Monaco. The final piece consists of two vertical slabs of steel with images of first a couple looking at each other and then a baby behind them. A glass plate in front is engraved with the poem "Honor" by William McGehee, which wraps around a silhouette image of a soldier.

"You’re not only looking at a public servant, but at the reasons they do their job – their family, children," says Cynthia Haffey, executive director for Platform Art and graduate of the University of South Florida.

Vasquez first got the inspiration for the sculpture when she came across McGehee’s poem. After further research, Platform Art realized the poem was written while McGehee was in high school, and that he is currently on his second deployment in Afghanistan. He recorded himself reading the poem, which is incorporated into the display.

Once Vasquez’s design was selected, she met with Monaco and talked about how the public could interact with the piece and how people could approach it physically and visually.

"It was a great learning process for her," says Haffey. "She was stunned at the amount of thoughtful consideration you have to put into a work of art when doing something for the general public."

Vasquez is the daughter of immigrants living in Polk County. After graduating, she will attend Polk State College and then plans to further her education at a design school.

Platform Art is a nonprofit organization in Polk County that focuses on visual arts, leaning toward public art. The project is the first in a series of three with a similar theme and purpose. It will be displayed in City Hall for the summer, and will then be installed in Veterans Park. Eventually, the hope is for this and other sculptures in the series to tour the Tampa Bay region and potentially the State.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Cynthia Haffey, Platform Art

Florida Music Students Win Scholarships For Piano Performances

Six young pianists from around Florida were awarded a total of $22,500 in scholarship and prize money in the 2014 Artist Series Concerts of Sarasota Competition for Piano. 

Ten pianists made it to the final stage of the three-round competition in late March, which was judged by Julian Martin of the Juliard School; Robert Sherman, an award-winning radio broadcaster, music critic and educator; and acclaimed Pianist Derek Han.

Three pianists from the Scholarship Level (ages 14-19) received a total of $7,500 in scholarships. Priscilla Navarro, 19, of Ft. Myers was awarded the first prize Lee & Jerry Ross Scholarship of $3,000. Second-place Prize Winner Alvin Xue, 15, of Wellington, received $2,500 in prize money; and Third-place Winner Tiffany Chen, 16, of West Palm Beach received $2,000. 

In the Performance Level (ages 20-25), Heqing Huang, 20, of Boca Raton was awarded the first place Virginia B. Toulmin Award, amounting to $6,000. Second-place Winner Emily Charlson, 23, Tallahassee, received $5,000, and Third-place Winner Dan Sato, 25, Miami, was awarded $4,000. 

Endowments from private donors and money raised by Friends of the Artist Series organization provide the scholarship funding for the Artist Series Competition. 

The Artist Series Concerts Competition was established by Artistic Director Lee Dougherty Ross in 2002. Under the guidance of Coordinator Joy McIntyre, Professor Emerita of Music at Boston University, the competition grew to the statewide level in 2007. Since 2007, McIntyre says the competition has run on a multi-disciplinary cycle that annually celebrates top pianists, string musicians and vocalists.

“I applaud the Artist Series and its known leaders, Lee Dougherty Ross and Executive Director John Fisher. They have done really marvelous things with it. …  They are investing money in the future of classical music by supporting these young musicians,” McIntyre says. 

McIntyre adds that the city of Sarasota itself provides a unique cultural environment that fosters young musicians and artists.

“It’s a cultural mecca, if you will, where all kinds of things are going on. People of all levels of appreciation, whether it’s orchestra or theatre or art; classical or jazz music -- or the circus, of course -- are active supporters of the arts. Sarasota is where it’s at in terms of lively cultural life.”

Writer: Jessi Smith
Source: Joy McIntyre, Artist Concert Series Competition Coordinator

Iconic Ringling Cube Gets Facelift From Students

For decades, motorists and visitors to Ringling College of Art + Design have been greeted by the same image on the college’s front lawn: A minimalist, tilted cube that stands more than 15 feet high at the corner of Tamiami Trail and Martin Luther King Boulevard. 
 
Over the years, time and the elements weathered the Cube into a drab, gray block, and it faded into the scenery for most passersby. Three Ringling College students, however, recognized the sculpture as a six-sided blank canvas, and seized the opportunity to give the Cube a fresh makeover. 
 
Graphic Design Seniors Mariana Silva, Anna Jones and Kim Daley developed the concept for the “Faces of Ringling” project, a school-wide collaboration aimed to give the Cube a literal “facelift” by combining the self portraits of two dozen students.
 
“A lot of alumni like the Cube a lot, so we didn’t want to remove it. Instead, we were looking for a cost effective way of bringing life back to the Cube, and in a way that would represent the college today and its diverse student body,’’ Silva says. “We found that bus wrap is cost effective and can be done quickly.” 
 
The team worked within the RCAD Design Center, an internship class that gives students the opportunity to work on “real world” projects, to draft the concept for “Faces of Ringling,” and presented to the college board early in the Spring 2014 semester. They also put out a call to student artists for self portraits, and received more than 100 submissions.
 
The team selected the work of 24 students from approximately half of the college’s 14 majors to be displayed in four-portrait collages on each of the Cube’s six sides. Sarasota-based sign company, Signs in One Day, installed the Cube portrait wrap on April 11, providing the Cube with a fresh face -- 24 of them, in fact.
 
“The idea is to create something different every year, or at least regularly, with lots of student involvement. It’s a better representation of the school,” Silva says. 
 
Writer: Jessi Smith
Sources: Mariana Silva, Kim Daley, Anna Jones: RCAD Graphic Design ‘14
 
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