March 28, 2008

Exhibits > in Ankara + Duluth

In March 2008, work from the Turkish American Projects by University of Minnesota Duluth students is on exhibit at Baskent University in Ankara, Turkey. Congratulations to students whose work is included in this international exchange!

Tulip & Arabesque Online Exhibit

Tweed Museum of Art Exhibit (Fall 2007)

Conference + Exhibition in Ankara (Spring 2008)

I am not in Ankara, attending the Symposium of The Preservation of Cultural Heritage; New Methods and Applications, but I'm looking forward to a report from my colleagues who are presenting projects there and participating in the academic dialogue about cultural heritage. I knew my student's work would be traveling to be part of an exhibit, but I was uninformed about the potential link between our art + design projects and the more complex content of this symposium.

Since the symposium website links to this blog... I do have a few thoughts, perhaps worth including here...

Over the past few years, I have integrated several large assignments into my teaching which address cultural complexity in design, specifically related to the Turkish American Exchange projects. My goal has been to introduce students to aspects of global culture, identifying traditional formal roots in contemporary design. I have created projects that are appropriate to our digital design curriculum and integrated Turkish design influences into foundations courses. More advanced students have been asked to delve a bit deeper into contemporary Turkish design and to draw off of traditional literature. In each case, students benefit by expanding their their awareness of how culture travels across borders. Students begin to make connections between the visual culture they live in and the traditions and cross-fertilizations that feed it. This global and historical sensitization is crucial for any artist or designer today. I have long believed that design is a richly diverse activity that springs from all corners of culture and a vital tool for building bridges between diverse groups. My creative approach to teaching is more concerned with the evolution and re-integration of traditional culture, than with the preservation or conservation of it.

That said, I think it's important to point out that though one goal of my teaching has been the integration of influences from global culture into art foundations curriculum, it's primary focus is on design principles and digital techniques. Ours has been a creative process... introducing students to other ( and "othered") cultural artifacts as a first step in stimulating curiosity and formal invention.

-Joellyn Rock

November 28, 2007

More Carpet Designs > Fall 2007

In the Fall 2007, another group of 2d Digital Design students have completed the Digital Carpet Project.
Here are some of their designs, and their reflections on the project:


This original design by Amara Barthelemy has a traditional, folk art symmetry.


This carpet by Jane Olila has a more contemporary, asymmetrical design.

October 18, 2007

Dijital Pasaj comments

Hi Joellyn, this is Matt Mulliner. I just took a look at some of the
comic book work you had linked onto your blog from the Turkey students.
There is a ton of work! WOW!

I noticed a few of them were similar to some of the stuff in our class.
One I saw that had the word/name (I'm not sure which) Can Aygun on
it, was very similar to some of the work that Ben from our class was
doing. It reminded me of the Fitger's brewhouse video.

Ben Luoma's Brewhouse image

Also the one with the shopping at the Duluth Pack store from my class is similar to
the one that looks like a girl shopping at a record store? It is cool
to see similarities in illustration style across the world... some may
be from photoshop effects but still very cool! It might be
interesting to organize the two sets (ours and theirs) together somehow
to suggest some similarities.

Dijital Pasaj Website...

More comments by UMD students...

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October 16, 2007

Dijital Pasaj > Başkent

How exciting to receive PDFs of art work by Murat's students in Ankara Turkey for their own version of Dijital Pasaj. They have created comic books and movies that tell stories about their daily lives in Ankara. I will post a few jpgs here to give you an idea of their work. Students at UMD will be inspired by the concept and craft of these digital narratives!


A few examples of work by students of Murat Devrim Alilgan at Başkent University >>



a common theme in the work of both Turkish and American students is sleep...


PDFs of comic books / resize in your PDF window and zoom in to view>>>

Download file

Download file

Download file

More images in extended entry...

Continue reading "Dijital Pasaj > Başkent" »

May 9, 2007

Rumi Poetry > Graphic Design 1

Rumi has had a significant influence on both Persian and Turkish literature throughout the centuries and is now one of the most widely read poets in America. Mawl?n? Jal?l-ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī[2] (Persian: مولانا جلال الدین محمد رومی, Turkish: Mevlânâ Celâleddin Mehmed Rumi), known in the English-speaking world as Rumi. The year 2007 was declared as the "International Rumi Year" by UNESCO in March 2006. This is commemoration of Rumi's 800th birthday anniversary, with celebrations taking place in various locations around the world.

Graphic Design 1 students were introduced to the poetry of Rumi, the 13th Century mystic whose work transcends national and ethnic borders. Students were asked to select a translated version of one of Rumi's works and create a digital word + image interpretation of their own. They determined the size and format of their expressive typographic piece. Students are urged to be very experimental with this work, investigating a contemporary connection to the poem lifted from another time and place.


These final versions could use any format and materials that the student desired.
Some ended up taking 3 dimensional form as students were urged to move out of
their usual comfort zone in graphic design.

We Three poem interpreted by Delilah Effinger

View image
another by Brandon Favre

interactive poetry by Angela Crea

Kevin Marx found contemporary resonances in a Rumi Poem.
He had words from the poem stamped onto military dog tags.

See more about Rumi projects below...

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May 3, 2007

Rumi Poetry Accordion Books

book by Bryan Rudell

2d Digital Design foundations classes were introduced to the poetry of Rumi, the 13th Century mystic whose work transcends national and ethnic borders. Rumi has had a significant influence on both Persian and Turkish literature throughout the centuries and is now one of the most widely read poets in America. Students were asked to select a translated version of one of Rumi's works and create a digital word + image interpretation of their own. Final versions take the form of mixed media accordion books.

Rumi Links:
Rumi, the 13th century philosopher has been commemorated around Turkey and the world with various activities and performances since the beginning of this year which has been declared by the United Nations Educatinal, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as the ''Year of Mevlana.''

A Celebration of Rumi in Turkey

read about Rumi

Rumi poems

Rumi poems

Rumi poems

book by Amber Parker

View showcase of student books from Fall 2006

Book by Jared Wick

Book by Breanna Caywood

Continue reading "Rumi Poetry Accordion Books" »

April 19, 2007


Tulip and Arabesque is an international collaboration that was initiated by:

Alison Aune, Associate Professor of Art Education at the University of Minnesota Duluth
Joellyn Rock, Assistant Professor of Art + Design at the University of Minnesota Duluth

This collaboration has included:
Art Education and Digital Design students and faculty from the University of Minnesota Duluth
Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program grantees, Natalie Patrick and Amber Szerpicki
Elementary and Middle School age children from Duluth Minnesota

Graphic Design students and faculty from Başkent University, Ankara, Turkey

Special Thanks to our Turkish colleagues, professors Halime Fişenk and Murat Devrim Atilgan, and Dean Dr. Filiz Yenişehirlioğlu of Başkent University, Ankara, Turkey.

This project was made possible with support from:
The Turkish American Alliance of the School of Fine Arts (SFA), University of Minnesota Duluth, Dean Jack Bowman and Julia Gillett, grant writer; SFA funding of two faculty Small Chancellor’s Grants and an American-Turkish Alliance Exchange Research Grant; SFA Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program grants to art and design students Natalie Patrick and Amber Szerpicki; Funding from The Office of International Programs (OIP) Interdisciplinary International Institutional Partnership Grants; The Department of Art + Design Head Virginia Jenkins; Professor Ron Marchese, Sociology and Anthropology, University of Minnesota Duluth and with donations from UMD Stores Art Supplies.

About the Tulip & Arabesque motifs

from notes by Alison Aune:

The traditional Turkish motifs of the Tulip and Arabesque have had multiple meanings throughout history. For this project, we traced the Tulip, where it was a heraldic motif used throughout the Ottoman Empire, and we followed the Islamic arabesque with its interlacing and continuous vines found in ceramic tiles and carpets. Inspired by these original sources, we created artworks as a way to understand, and celebrate, these ancient patterns of peace.

Links to Symmetry and Pattern Resources on the web >>>

Continue reading "About the Tulip & Arabesque motifs" »

April 18, 2007

Dijital Pasaj

Digital Studio students are in-process on a new project called Dijital Pasaj, (Turkish for Digital Passageway.) Each student chose a site in Duluth to document + transform into a short digital narrative, imitating the technique of rotoscoping as a unifying visual style. Inspiration for this project comes from contemporary films which use digital paint to animate live action photography. (see: Waking Life)

view images from our process here:

This project is collaborative and explores the idea of random access in digital media. By random access, we mean: a digital experience that offers the visitor ways to navigate through it randomly, at their own pace and order. This opportunity is commonly found on websites, which do not demand we navigate sequentially. Our class is devising an online experience that will allow students on the other side of the globe to visit our unique version of Duluth Minnesota. Visual artifacts will lead to specific locations in our city. Visitors to the site will be able to move through this digital environment, accessing images and short quicktime movies that offer a personal vision of life here. Students are investigating digital formats very common to their experience : video game interfaces, websites and dvds. All of these represent some form of random access, and offer new levels of customized choice to digital audiences.


interface design by Gen Johnsen + Ivana Savic

Dijital Pasaj Website... in process...coming soon at

Gig Night story by Ben Luoma

This interactive project is part of our exchange with Turkish students in Ankara, offering them a quirky view of our city. They will be able to access the website, clicking spots on the map interface to download the short Quicktime movies that take them on a tour of offbeat locations around town.

Lift Bridge story by Matt Mulliner

The Video + Animation + Games Symposium was hosted by UMD's VizLab in the Kirby Ballroom this past Friday. Students from our campus (and from the Duluth community) mingled with presenters from Minneapolis to share knowledge and enthusiasm for these digital media artforms.


Interactive exhibits and “hands on? demonstrations were featured at the Video+Animation+Games Symposium, including a sound design experiment station, hands-on video production and filming techniques, demos by Apple, Maya and 3D Studio Max trainers, a game lounge, Kirby Game Room demos of Dance Dance Revolution, Halo, Fight Night and demos of student-made games. Noon keynote speaker Lane Raichert is a Minnesota native and creative and production veteran in the TV animation and computer game business.

I gave a presentation about our Dijital Pasaj project, and students from my classes demonstrated their work for interested viewers. Right now we have no department or academic major (that I am aware of at UMD) dedicated to Video + Animation + Games even though these art forms are so ubiquitous in contemporary culture. Our era won't be known for its great contribution to stained glass, or bronze sculpture or fresco painting...

So, we are opening our eyes and minds to the potential of new creative forms that are driven by innovations in digital technology and a public hungry for customizable gadgets and entertainment. Although we do not offer a major in game design or a class in animation, we do teach several classes at UMD where we try to integrate concepts from these disciplines into creative projects.

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird

Graphic Design 1 students are asked to explore the poem, Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird, by Wallace Stevens. Students create a tiled format that expresses the images and ideas they discover in the poem. They are encouraged to work in strong black and white, abstracting imagery when possible, and emphasizing their use of positive and negative space relationships. This project serves as a warm up to the Rumi poetry project, which offers them more freedom.

Halime and Murat, Professors from Ankara Turkey were visiting our class as we worked on this project. We discussed the use of poetry as subject matter for expressive typographic and image works. Students exchanged personal interpretations of the text of the poem, and we discovered similarities and differences in how the poem may be experienced by readers from different cultures.

April 12, 2007

Digital Carpet Assignment

Students in Art 1013 : 2d Digital Design classes created their own digital carpet designs and animations using Adobe illustrator and photoshop software. Investigation of Turkish and Arabic decorative arts led to the development of motifs for border and field patterns based on symmetries evident in traditional carpet designs.

see: Math Forum
Symmetry + Pattern website

carpet by Michelle Miller

Students first developed their designs in black and white in illustrator.

Black and White Design by Amber Parker

carpet border design by Chris Hagen


After the introduction of color theory, each rendered a final carpet design using a color harmony of their own choice using photoshop.
full color carpet design by Chris Hagen

Final carpets were printed in sections and tiled to large format. Students also tested simple animation techniques possible using photoshop and imageready software. These were combined with electronica/ world music in imovie to generate a danceable light show.

view more carpets in the online exhibit

Click to online exhibit > digital carpets
to view carpet gallery

Click to online exhibit > digital carpets in motion
to view streaming QT movie of animated carpets

Mounting Tiled Project

Class Critiques

Continue reading "Digital Carpet Assignment" »