At first glance, the seasonal animated e-card sent to the extended University community by President Eric Kaler and his wife Karen appears to have been created by a professional. In fact, it was actually the work of two U of M students: Mari Mihai, a third-year graphic design undergrad, and Adam Zahller Brown, a first-year grad student in music composition.
As a part of celebrating their first winter as the U of M presidential couple, Karen and Eric Kaler made a splash with their beautifully constructed piece of student art, which was sent to faculty, staff, students, alumni, parents of students, and selected friends--more than 100,000 people in all. The 30-second greeting card is complete with falling snow, a snow globe, a crackling fire, and a crescendo of holiday-evoking music.
Designing a winter greeting
Mari Mihai began the card design by sketching an interior scene with a fireplace and mantel and scanning it into a computer. She then painted it and, on a suggestion from the Kalers, added images of all five University campus mascots as mantel portraits.
Meanwhile, Adam Zahller Brown worked at creating sounds that evoked a magical holiday mood. He created a unique sound, while keeping in mind the typical "bells and trumpets" sounds of typical holiday music, by utilizing unusual instruments such as cymbals, a celesta, a Navajo ceder flute, and recorders.
About the artists
Mihai, born in Romania, moved to Minnesota at the age of 8. Mihai chose the U of M as her college choice for its reputation and location. She says, "I knew I wanted graphic design, but I didn't want to go out of state. I wanted to be near my family because we've shared so much." Mihai has a College of Design Legacy Scholarship, among others, and is a part of the University Honors Program.
Brown, who aspires "to write challenging concert music," is a graduate assistant in the music theory program. He came to the University's School of Music to work with composer and professor James Dillon, whose music he has long admired.
It is inspiring to think that two college students like myself have worked together to create something that brought warm winter wishes to the entire University, and now to you. Enjoy!