California State University, Dominguez Hills graphic design major Paul Whisenhunt put some of his talents up against the wall—a wall on the first floor inside LaCorte Hall, to be precise.
As part of the Art and Design Department’s Art 342-Conceptualization class, associate professor of art design Michele Bury assigned 11 groups of students a “guerilla design” project, which exercised a form of art that utilizes public spaces and is commonly known as “street guerilla art.” The assignment was for students to install their guerilla art projects in various locations on campus. The installations were displayed from Oct. 26 to Nov. 2.
Whisenhunt and his project partners, Christine Eusebio and Jennifer Watson, made their installment highly interactive, utilizing contributions of the university community at large. They made Post-it Note sheets and markers available for passers-by who wished to participate and express themselves artistically. The wall near the LaCorte Hall elevator became shrouded with the familiar yellow 3-by-3-inch sheets.
Some happenchance participants offered their contributions twofold, threefold, or more, concentrating on technique.
“I did a bunch because my class got cancelled,” said art design major Eldon Villanueva. “I did one using pointillism, one using expressionism, one post-expressionism, and well… some miscellaneous styles.”
Communications major Ilyanna Gutierrez also stopped off to contribute artwork that had personal meaning.
“I drew two people, and four hearts to represent the months of a relationship I’m in,” said Gutierrez.
The project was sometimes unmanned, making it vulnerable to a host of threats.
“Part of the process is that anything can happen to it. It can be taken down by cleaning crews, vandalized—anything. I might have to start over,” said a smiling Whisenhunt toward the end of his first day into the project.
Although most people who walked by the project happily participated, some declined. Whisenhunt embraced the rebuffs, saying, “Rejection is part of the process as well.”
Although the conceptualization course has been offered for several years, the “guerilla design” project is new this semester.
“This is the first time this project has been assigned. In the spirit of street art as a functional civic intervention, students were to create a campus awareness campaign or a social commentary to be posted on campus,” said Bury. “Students were to choose a theme they care about and one they wanted to share with the campus population. It was to be relevant to their audience as well. In this project the students were combining their conceptual and design skills.”
The concept for Whisenhunt’s Post-it Note compilation was not only to engage the public, but also to accomplish something.
“The goal of my project is to get more artwork on campus—to raise awareness for the need for artwork in certain areas of the campus,” said Whisenhunt.
The course has evolved over time, taking it out of the studio and into public spaces.
“The objective has always been toward finding and focusing on concepts. But, this is the first time in any of my classes that I am having students work this way,” said Bury of employing guerilla art. “The overall theme of the class is: Can you touch someone’s heart with design and how is your audience reacting to your work?”
According to Bury, guerilla art projects the students conceived included a giant fortune cookie quote reading “Make a friend today,” with corresponding actual-size fortune cookies that could be found in bathrooms, computer labs, and other locations; a campaign against “sexting”—texting sexual content; an awareness campaign on the dangers of texting and driving; and a hands-on Facebook question, “What are you thinking?”
As part of the assignment, students were to document audience feedback through interviews, photos, videos, and other forms of reporting. Students presented their projects to Bury at the location of their installment. They were graded, in part, by concept, design skills, relevance of theme, documentation of audience feedback, and execution.
For more information about the Art and Design Department, click here.
-photos by Laura Perdew