AIGA's 50 Books/ 50 Covers comes to Melvin Art Gallery
From "elegant" expressions of surrealist forms to "typography with soul," AIGA's 50 Books/50 Covers exhibition, featured this month at the Melvin Art Gallery, brings together an international collection of photo essays, anthologies, trade publications, even children's books, celebrating the creativity of graphic designers.
Since 1923, as part of a suite of annual competitions, the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) reviews hundreds of entries to select the year's most progressive book and cover designs.
Holly Murkerson, who earned her B.F.A. from Florida Southern in 2004 and currently serves as director of the gallery, is excited that this traveling exhibition has come to the College. "The examples collected in this exhibition" she says, "provide students with an opportunity to witness first hand professional solutions to complex design problems."
Pointing out Sabiduras and Other Texts by Gego, a collection of multilingual texts in Spanish, English and German by the Venezuelan artist Gego (Gertrude Goldschmidt), Murkerson explains, "Book designers are challenged with giving text and ideas a physical shape that speaks to readers."
"How do you design a cover for a book with three titles?" asks Murkerson. This was the dilemma faced by Peter Mendelsund of Vintage Books who was charged with creating a cover for a collection of poems by best-selling author Mark Haddon entitled Talking Horse and the Sad Girl and the Village Under the Sea. "By cleverly incorporating a spinning wheel into the front cover, he immediately engages the reader," applauds Murkerson. "Even the jurors of the competition commented that they couldn't stop playing with the wheel. This is just a great solution to a difficult design problem."
Her favorite of the installation however is Vitamin D: New Perspectives in Drawing. Designed by Julia Hastings of Phaidon Press, Inc., the book presents the work of 110 exceptional artists that use the medium of drawing. "Being an artist, I'm especially drawn to this one," Murkerson confesses. By printing the illustrations on a rough stock with frayed edges, the designer makes reference to the tools of drawing, but also offers readers a very tactile experience.
"With covers fashioned out of everything from vellum to sand paper, we encourage everyone to come in and touch. Feel free to take a book from the shelf, sit on the couch and explore it."
Using a range of cognitive skills, aesthetics, and craft--typography, layout, and sculpture--these designers have created beautiful, avant-garde solutions to everyday challenges. "Exhibitions like this," Murkerson feels, "bring awareness to the work of graphic designers, elevating their status to that of fine artists."
Other AIGA winners, along with juror comments, will be on display until November 26. The Melvin Art Gallery is open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and during intermissions of many performances of the FSC Fine Arts Series. For more information, please contact the gallery at (863) 680-4743.
Next Up: a showcase of freshman, sophomore and junior work. Interested in submitting? Contact the gallery for more information.