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Kate Bonar, Unique²“What I love about Industrial Design are its possibilities and that it encapsulates a lot of interests,” said Alexis Napier-Short ’11.

Though she had “only painted and drawn” before coming to MIAD from Michigan, Napier-Short soon discovered 3-D art. After talking with ID Professor John Caruso, “his passion for Industrial Design rubbed off on me,” she said.

“The field is wide open. I’ve explored theater design, and done many types of projects and industry collaborations, such as with Fiskars, and I am now exploring textile and soft goods design.”

Napier-Short’s exploration is resulting in a capstone senior thesis project — “Body Style” — a line of women’s underwear that “approaches the female form with honesty” through a design solution that addresses the four female body types: apple, pear, hourglass and ruler.

M&I Foundation LogoHer extensive research acknowledges many current and historic influences, including the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty launched in 2004.

Click here for a video perspective with students by Allyson Lassiter ’07 (Time-Based Media).

Napier-Short’s project is one of 135 on view in the MIAD 2011 Senior Exhibition – the state’s largest show of its kind. The exhibition opens Gallery Night, Friday, April 15, 5 – 9 p.m., and continues through May 14, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday – Saturday. It is generously sponsored by M&I Foundation.

Alexis Napier-ShortThe innovative, multidisciplinary projects on view represent the college’s 11 Bachelor of Fine Arts majors. Most important, they represent each student’s highly developed and refined body of work, their distinctive creative voice and their transition to skilled professional.

For Communication Design major and Iowa-native Kate Bonar, that means designing Unique², a customizable iPad application to help children with autism lead their daily lives and become more independent and successful as adults.

Her project comprises seven books, and a video and web demonstration, that show the application’s functionality.

“I have been familiar with children’s disabilities all my life through my mother’s profession, and volunteering for the Special Olympics since I could walk,” Bonar said.

“I am very interested in children’s design, but the increasing dominance of autism in research prompted my own interest and research in this specific area.”
– Kate Bonar ’11

Illustration major Lillian Duermeier’s work also reflects an intensely personal journey. A series of digital illustrations by this locally and nationally recognized artist convey the aesthetics of Buddhist art through her observations of growing up as a Midwestern Buddhist.

“Through ‘Monarch Mudras, Sunflower Sutras: An Exploration of East Meets Midwest’ I hope to further communicate an understanding of Eastern practice in a more approachable manner,” she said, “while providing a visual voice for a smaller — yet still strongly connected — community.”

Eliseo Carmona, Jr.Though in two different majors, Eliseo Carmona, Jr., and Paul Altott, both originally from Illinois, are also addressing the needs of specific communities.

Carmona, an Industrial Design major, has worked with elementary school teacher Julia Atilano of Hartland, Wis., to design ELEVATE — a mobile, height-adjustable workstation to help teachers enhance their performance and integrate student/teacher interaction. His project received one of three Alumni Thesis Scholarships awarded on behalf of alumni by MIAD’s Alumni Council.

Like Napier-Short, Carmona has conducted extensive research, and has taken his design through the sketching, concepting, prototype testing and final modeling that are the hallmarks of user-centered design.

Carmona said he “quickly learned that many teachers were using 40-year old desks and that he found no evidence of other products that resolve the unique challenges of today’s changing learning environment.”

“Through this project,” he said,

“I am studying how we are currently using design to change the landscape of the education system in an environment transformed by technology.”
– Eliseo Carmona, Jr. ’11

Altott’s Communication Design project addresses the needs of young designers “just starting out.” “From THEM, by ME, to YOU” is a teaching book that Altott described as a “collection of basic design and life principles related to the basic elements of design.”

MIAD’s fine artists also have community in mind, though in a distinctly different manner, inviting viewers to experience, react to, and in some cases, interact with, the art they are viewing.

Gallerie M curator Danielle Rosen is one of several Integrated Studio Arts majors whose projects invite interaction and participation from viewers.

“The Institute for Species Systemization,” a mixed-media installation/performance, encompasses a psychological testing site to allow participants to engage in linguistic inquiry and social phenomena.

“As a pseudo-scientist under the pseudonym of Patricia Rose, a researcher, performer and artist,” Rosen said, “I am conducting experiments that urge participants to examine cultural assumptions.”

In addition to her Integrated Studio Arts major, Rosen, originally from Michigan, has a minor in Writing. To participate in her study, visit

Georgia LloydAs a Photography major and Art History minor, Texas-native Georgia Lloyd is marking her own transition to professional artist through “Passage,” an exhibition of photographic prints that “explores the ideas of the beauty and pain inherent within the natural and ‘human’ world,” she said.

She’s just one of many seniors whose work is featured in a comprehensive new project spearheaded by Photography majors Lara Ohland and Rose Tarman. A website and soon to be published catalog "We Were Here All at Once" feature the senior year body of work by all of MIAD’s Photography majors.

For all of these seniors, the transition to professional is clear. Napier-Short hopes to work for a company whose design lines span home goods to backpacks, fashion and appliances. Bonar wants to go into children’s publishing.

Duermeier said she’s "looking forward to having time to expand what I do personally and to explore editorial art further. I’m interested in children’s art, and am currently collaborating on a children’s book, as well as illustrating a book for a local poet."

Carmona is interviewing for jobs and leaving his options open, but he has a special interest in contract furniture and custom furniture.

Altott was offered a full-time job on graduation by Kohl’s Creative after completing his summer internship in 2010, and Rosen will be attending graduate school in the Department of Visual Arts at the University of Chicago. Lloyd is keeping her options open and exploring various opportunities that include the field of photography.

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