Saturday, June 20, 2009

The MICA / Geppi Oz Project

It's always a unique opportunity for MICA students to engage in professional grade projects as part of their educational experience through internships. The Oz Project at the Geppi Entertainment Museum [GEM], Baltimore is one of those notable opportunities. The project involves a team of 6 students, a massive amount of research on the stories of Oz and a willingness to work under short deadlines and with new materials. The Oz Project Team consists of MICA Illustration rising seniors Crisanto Cimatu, Maggie Cerveny, Michael Clayton, Elly Kim, Cody Griffith and Tiffany Nguyen. The Team is headed up by Whitney Sherman, MICA Chair of Illustration, who is serving as creative consultant and art director.

Working with GEM's curator Arnold Blumberg and VP Missy Bowersox, Sherman conceptually established the space based on the rooms architecture which features several inset windows. These became portals to the new views of Oz the team would imagine while the walls would be embellished with a forest representing the transition space between the characters meeting and their journey to meet the Wizard.

The Team met with Blumberg and Bowersox to review the project in mid-May and had an end of May deadline to produce the first stage of art for the GEM special exhibitions room. The Team's instructions were to create works that were new interpretations of the story of Oz. Nothing could resemble the original book illustrations or imagery from the MGM film. The art was enlarged to XX' banner material and installed in the window alcoves, walls and entry way to the space.

Adding to the original concept, the Team members met to select their characters of interest and collectively created textures to make imaginary trees for the forest. Crisanto Cimatu created a view of Munchkinland and an interpretation of the Tin Man; Michael Clayton chose the view of Meeting the Wizard in Oz and an interpretation of the Scarecrow; Maggie Cerveny chose to picture the world of the Good Witch Glinda and interpret her costuming, Tiffany Nguyen created the Wicked Witch of the West calling in the Monkeys and interpreted her costuming; Elly Kim chose the envision Poppyfield as an upside-down place and reinterpret Dorothy; and Cody Griffith envisioned the Scarecrow meeting Dorothy and created a visual of Kansas complete with tornado for the entryway giving each visitors starting point for their own Oz adventure.

In addition to the cases holding books, memorabilia and other items related to Oz, full sized cutout characters were created of the Tinman, Scarcrow, Dorothy, Glinda and the Wicked Witch as well as a reinterpretation of the Flying Monkeys by each of the team's members.

Stage Two of the Team's work on this project will continue over the summer and include Dorothy's Kansas house [that fell on the Witch], a Yellow Brick Road, a fun fact coloring book using line art interpretations of the works in the exhibition, a dress basket, a sound and video installation and suprise give-aways. The Team will also give a public talk on their inspiration at a later date. The exhibition runs through the end of the year.

The Team has been involved in all aspects of the exhibition space including creating the original art, preparing the digital files for production, press checking the banners, mounting and installing the panels, planning meetings and keeping a blog of their experience [].

"The Team has done extraordinary work on this project, not only the imagination they employed but their teamwork and professionalism." noted Team leader Whitney Sherman.

Founded in 1826, MICA is among the top visual arts colleges in the nation. It enrolls 1,633 undergraduate and 214 graduate students from 44 states and 49 foreign countries, offering programs of study leading to the bachelor of fine arts (B.F.A.), master of arts (M.A.), and master of fine arts (M.F.A.) degrees. It also offers post-baccalaureate certificate programs and a full slate of credit and noncredit courses for adults, college-bound students, and children. MICA is recognized as an important cultural resource for the Baltimore/Washington region, sponsoring many public and community-outreach programs-including more than 100 exhibitions by students, faculty, and nationally and internationally known artists annually-as well as artists' residencies, film series, lectures, readings, and performances.