November 14, 2017

Princeton’s Visual Arts Program presents *a graphic design exhibition*

A range of work by 184 current and former students exhibited in new Hurley Gallery at Lewis Arts complex

Book launch event celebrates David Reinfurt’s new book, Muriel Cooper

The Program in Visual Arts at Princeton University’s Lewis Center for the Arts presents *a graphic design exhibition* curated by award-winning faculty member, artist, and writer David Reinfurt, highlighting the work of 184 current and former students since the Lewis Center launched courses in graphic design in 2010. The exhibition will be on view November 14 through December 28 in the new Hurley Gallery at the Lewis Arts complex on the Princeton campus. The gallery is open daily 10:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. through December 15; open daily 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. from December 16-28 (closed December 22 and 25). An opening reception will be held on November 14 from 4:30 to 6:00 p.m. On November 20 at 6:00 p.m. in the gallery, Reinfurt will host a discussion about his new book, Muriel Cooper, on the pioneering designer of MIT Press. Both events are free and open to the public.

watch interface

runtime by Neeta Patel, Class of 2016, is an interface for Apple Watch which tracks times when the user looks at the device and encourages behavior to look less frequently. Produced in VIS 415, Advanced Graphic Design. Screenshot courtesy the artist.

Seven years ago, the Lewis Center’s Program in Visual Arts launched courses in graphic design in response to growing student interest, adding to an already robust roster of courses in painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, film and video, and film history and theory. On his arrival at Princeton in 2010, Reinfurt worked to re-establish the typography studio and introduce the study of graphic design as a practical and theoretical starting point for students from all corners of the University, as well as visual artists.

The exhibition draws from work created by 184 students who have taken graphic design courses from 2010 through the current semester and includes a mix of animated, printed, and digital media.

“These courses allow Princeton students to explore the graphic design mechanics of how the messages reach them in their immediate environments, whether physical or online,” said Reinfurt. “Information is always designed — it is intentionally planned and given a specific form. Through hands-on assignments, students learn about design by doing it and also talking about it. The range of classes we initiated seven years ago equip students with the communication and production skills to operate within design, as well as apply these to their major area of interest at Princeton and after. Graphic design, without an explicit subject matter of its own, just may be the most liberal of arts.”

The show is organized around three large-scale projections on the walls of the gallery. Each is tied to a specific graphic design class. The first, VIS 215, offers students an introduction to typography. The second, VIS 216, moves onto discrete problems of graphic form. The third, VIS 415, is an advanced class where students pursue one common and substantial design project for the semester. A number of students take the full sequence of classes while at Princeton.

students at letterpress

Graphic design students work in the typography studio at 185 Nassau. Photo by M. Teresa Simao

A number of students have continued to pursue design after they graduated. Lily Healey, Class of 2013, is currently working in the design department at The New Yorker. Neeta Patel, Class of 2016, has spent the last year as the graphic design fellow at the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation in Phoenix. When graduating, Patel wrote a class-day speech about her time in the Visual Arts Program and was recently featured in Fortune Magazine. Ben Denzer, Class of 2015, is a junior designer at Penguin Books. Nazli Ercan, Class of 2017, is currently a designer for Pin-Up architecture magazine in New York. Bo-Won Kim, Class of 2011, just completed an M.F.A. in graphic design at Rhode Island School of Design.

Reinfurt is a working graphic designer and cofounder of Dexter Sinister and The Serving Library, an online and print publishing project, in addition to being a lecturer at Princeton. He worked as an interaction designer with IDEO (San Francisco) from 1995–1997 where he was the lead designer for the New York City MTA Metrocard vending machine interface, still in use by millions of people every day. On the first business day of 2000, Reinfurt formed O-R-G inc., a flexible graphic design practice composed of a constantly shifting network of collaborators.’

In 2012, he set up the nonprofit organization The Serving Library with Stuart Bailey and Angie Keefer. Reinfurt was 2010 United States Artists Rockefeller Fellow in Architecture and Design and was the 2016-2017 Mark Hampton Rome Prize fellow in Design at the American Academy in Rome. He has exhibited widely and his work is included in the permanent collections of the Walker Art Center, Whitney Museum of American Art, Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum, and the Museum of Modern Art. Reinfurt has taught at Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, Rhode Island School of Design, and Yale University School of Art. He graduated from the University of North Carolina in 1993 and received an M.F.A. from Yale in 1999.

david reinfurt

Graphic designer and artist David Reinfurt. Courtesy of David Reinfurt

Reinfurt co-wrote Muriel Cooper with Robert Wiesenberger. Cooper (1925–1994) was the pioneering designer who created the iconic MIT Press colophon (or logo), designed the encyclopedic volume The Bauhaus (1969), and the graphically dazzling and controversial first edition of Learning from Las Vegas (1972). She used an offset press as an artistic tool, worked with a large-format Polaroid camera, and had an early vision of e-books. Cooper was the first design director of the MIT Press, the cofounder of the Visible Language Workshop at MIT, and the first woman to be granted tenure at MIT’s Media Lab, where she developed software interfaces and taught a new generation of designers. She began her four-decade career at MIT by designing vibrant printed flyers for the Office of Publications; her final projects were digital. The book, forthcoming in 2018 from MIT Press, is a lavishly illustrated volume that documents Cooper’s career in abundant detail with prints, sketches, book covers, posters, mechanicals, student projects, and photographs, from her work in design, teaching, and research at MIT.

For the November 20 book launch and panel discussion, Reinfurt will be joined by co-author Robert Wiesenberger.

The Program in Visual Arts offers studio courses that emphasize direct, hands-on art making under the guidance of practicing visual arts professionals. The program is based at 185 Nassau Street and has recently expanded at that venue as the Programs in Dance, Theater, Music Theater and the Princeton Atelier moved to the new Lewis Arts complex. In order to develop their work, students are also given access to state-of-the-art technical, analog, and digital labs, including a fully functional letterpress studio. Students accepted into the program can pursue a degree or certificate in visual arts. Throughout the year, their work is exhibited in the Lucas Gallery at 185, the new Hurley Gallery at the Lewis Arts complex, and screened in the James M. Stewart ’32 Theater, as well in other traditional and non-traditional venues on campus.


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