Graphic & novel: University adorned with winning banners

Works of art that showcase the talent in the university’s graphic arts community are on display in a big way. Giant-sized banners, created by student Alex Turnwall and lecturer Matthew Rich, have been hung in the windows of West Village H along Huntington Avenue and on the Centennial Common façade of Meserve Hall, respectively.

Turnwall, a senior graphic design and business major, and Rich, an Art + Design lecturer, won the most recent NU Creates semi-annual banner competition for students and faculty. President Joseph Aoun picked winning works.

Turnwall created a series of digitally manipulated photographs capturing the progression of three avid rock climbers as they scaled Ireland’s Doolin Mountains. He drew inspiration from artists such as photographer Eadweard Muybridge, who in the late 1800s used multiple cameras to famously capture the motion of a galloping horse and buffalo.

“I was trying to capture two things at once – the rock climber moving through time and his interaction with the environment,” said Turnwall. While studying at the Burren College of Art in Ballyvaughan, Ireland, as part of the global student program Dialogue of Civilizations, he took 100 photographs of each climber during his assent and then “overlaid the images that looked good together.”

The images, he explained, attempt to show the climbers’ obsessive passion for the sport and their unusual relationship with nature. In his proposal, Turnwall described climbing as a “masochistic ritual that becomes more rewarding the more you suffer. In few other situations,” he added, “is the participant so obsessively focused and dependent on such minute natural details.”

Rich’s “site-specific” abstract line drawing attempts to create a 3-D illusion on a 2-dimensional plane and is reminiscent of his studio work, which involves taping together painted pieces of paper to create unusual shapes. The key difference between this project and his others is the design’s relationship with its location.

The installation’s colors originate from both permanent (the color of the facade of the John D. O’Bryant African-American Institute) and temporary (the color of the blue sky) sources. The greenish color correlates to that of a nearby tree.

The interplay between the design’s colors and those of its surroundings is a metaphor for Northeastern, Rich said, pointing to the university’s “diverse student body and its interaction with its more permanent physical, academic and intellectual structures.”

Rich is curious to see how interpretations of the design shift over time. “The colors around the design might change, the weather might change, the sun angle might change,” he said. “I work abstractly because I like the fact that it’s not easy to understand, it’s not easy to make sense of. I like that mystery.”