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Currents: a search for identity

Six months from now, Meagan Teneriello '09 will have graduated with a degree in Graphic Design and left the New London area, but not without leaving a lasting mark. Long after she returns to Hudson, N.H., to a job already waiting for her, the logo that Teneriello created for Newport's Library Arts Center, Gallery and Studio will be present in the community through mailers, advertisements and the center's web site.

Teneriello's creation was chosen by the center's Executive Director Kate Niboli and board members from among designs submitted by students in Adjunct Assistant Professor Debbie Campbell's Visual Identity and Systems Design (ART 422) class. Niboli came to Campbell's class on Oct. 30 to offer detailed feedback on each submission and to reveal the winning design.

The Library Arts Center is a regional cultural and arts center where residents and visitors can observe, study and participate in the arts. The center came to the college's Art Department with a challenge: to help it create a compelling new logo that reflected the broad mission for its gallery and studio, and its multiple constitutencies in the community. The center's unwieldy name also posed a significant design challenge for the students.

Housed in a renovated Victorian carriage house in Newport, N.H., the center has a spacious main gallery with a small stage, a backstage gallery and an art studio on the floor below. Offering classes in drawing, painting and sculpture, and boasting a darkroom, the center is a separate organization from the library with its own Board of Trustees and director, but the word “library” in its title often makes it hard for people to immediately grasp the center's purpose and functions.

The goal that Niboli set before Professor Campbell's class, then, was to create a hip, fresh logo that would appeal to artists – all kinds of artists – as well as non-artists of all ages.

“This was a very challenging project, and I was really surprised by the work that came out of it,” says Niboli. “There were quality graphics that appeared in the office that we could talk over. It was challenging for me as well because my aesthetic is one thing, but in my role I have to think of the aesthetics of the entire organization.”

The Pros and Cons of Each Design

Taking one design at a time, Niboli talked forthrightly about the merits of each entry — its beauty, its look and feel, and the potential challenges it posed for the organization. The students heard about the discussions and concerns that went into choosing a logo, as well as Niboli's personal preferences. A logo's potential for easy recognition and uniqueness were factors, as was striking the right balance between hip and elegant.

Niboli gave special attention to Jessica McCabe's presentation, and explained why.

“Jess took the time to come to the gallery, which I have to say as a college student I probably wouldn't have done, but as a person who has graduated from college, I would have,” she says. “You have to do that extra work of getting face recognition, because building a relationship sells - it sells! Because I knew that was Jess's work, because I had met her, I had a connection that made me want her design, which is an interesting business lesson.

“Make friends, it's that simple. Beyond that, the design is very artistic, and I like the display with the different colors that helps me see the full potential of the design. I like that the business card comes out of its display pocket- it made me want to own it, to have it be my card.”

Ultimately, McCabe's work was considered perfect for representing the studio side of the center, but not for the gallery. The message from Niboli, though, was clear – it was a serious contender in part because of the time McCabe took to drive to Newport and meet her potential clients.

When Niboli finally broke the suspense and named Teneriello's as the chosen design, the class erupted in cheers and congratulations, and relieved chuckles that the wait was over.

Professor Campbell was delighted by Niboli's careful assessment of each creation. “She did such a nice job of filling the students in on the pros and cons of the designs,” says Campbell. “That kind of feedback from a client is invaluable.”

In addition to having her work chosen, Teneriello was awarded $100 from Beyond Design, Campbell's graphic design firm. A transfer student from Emmanuel College in Boston, Teneriello says it was definitely a smart choice to come to Colby-Sawyer. “I love it here, I'm getting so much out of the courses,” she says. “I had a lot of other ideas for this assignment, so it took a long time to get to the version that ended up being chosen, and I was pretty happy with it at the end, even before I knew it won.”

-Kate Dunlop Seamans