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Tigers and Turtles and rhinoceros – a senior graphic design show

Tigers and turtles and rhinoceros by Shawna Hession

Several of the senior Radford University graphic design students and faculty, including Ken Smith, John O'Connor and Jim Woods.

Several of the senior Radford University graphic design students and faculty, including Ken Smith, John O’Connor and Jim Woods.

Sometimes if I squint my eyes, the area around me looks like a big city. The gallery walls seem urban with one being original building brickwork and the other white wallboard. The big picture window looks out onto a main street and half the audience has a slight hipster feel to it.

Then I stop squinting and I’m in southwest Virginia at Radford University Art Museum’s current downtown location. Around me floats 26 senior graphic design students with their work adorning the gallery walls, including two floors of museum space and showcases. This is the 2016 Spring Graphic Design Senior Show.

It’s all eye candy. Here is what stands out to me, so you can get an idea that this show is more than a display of brochures, ads and publications:

  • Neal Buchanan and his branded screened guitar effects pedals (at the reception he provided the music)
  • Emily Martin’s elaborately staged showcase centering on branding for a tea company – afternoon tea table included
  • Peter Mattox’s wonderfully creepy children’s book (which he wrote) and animation called the “Candy Man,” along with his stop-motion puppets based on the “Wizard of Oz”
  • The amazing team of Alyssa Pull and Jacob Hardbower, who did tandem work about sustainability projects for elementary school children (school desk included)
  • Erica Smith’s own business of hand painted wood signs with clever sayings, which she branded
  • Wendy Viana’s beautiful Art Nouveaux posters

And then there is Shawna Hession’s work. What can I say about this student, who for the past two and half year’s has been one of my work-study designers. She is part of what makes my job a positive place. I get to work with a lot of talent students (Zack Brodie, Elizabeth Dreher, Jacob Hardbower and currently Mayana Williams). But the hardest part of my job is watching them graduate. Though it’s great to see them spread their wings and do professional work in the real world, I miss seeing their solutions to the college’s design challenges.

And now Shawna, who has worked with me the longest, is following that path.

The featured image of this post is a series of watercolors she did for her senior project.

Cheers to you Shawna. Where ever you land, they will be so lucky to have you.

The Student Graphic Design Show is a very short-termed exhibition. It comes down April 20. If you are in Radford, Virginia, consider stopping in to see it (you might think I am totally bias, but in this case I am really not – everyone at the opening seemed truly delighted with the entirety of it). The gallery is located at 1129 E. Main Street. The gallery should be open Monday through Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (but you may want to call first, just to make sure if you are making a special trip – 540-831-5754).


The Unwinding Path is the blog of L.S. King – photographer, want-to-be printmaker and sometimes hypnotist. By day she is an arts communications officer at a rural university (translation: photographer, writer, and media content provider), and most of the rest of her time she is an MFA graduate student at Radford University.


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