Making room for art

Making+room+for+art

Story by Amelia Kimball, Staff Writer

In the spring of 2013, three new hybrid buses will be serving Eau Claire with environmental drawings, photos and designs created by three UW-Eau Claire seniors, making space for art instead of ads as part of the Hybrid Bus Design Project.

“It’s awesome that Eau Claire fosters art,” said Jenny Johns, a graphic design major.

Jyl Kelley, assistant professor of photography and one of the faculty mentors to the three students, said she spoke with the manager of the Eau Claire transit and found out he was interested in having designs made on the new hybrid buses coming to the city.

Kelley said the mentors wrote a grant for students to be paid for their work on the project.

To find students to take on the task, the mentors designed a competitive portfolio process to decide who would work on the buses, Kelley said. Out of about 30 students, they chose three, thinking each student would create their own art for one bus,
she said.

Sooyun Im, assistant professor of graphic design and faculty mentor, said all of the mentors reviewed the applications together and looked at the qualifications, interests and passions of the students.

Kelley said they had many good applications, but Aly Wheeler, Luke Benson and Johns were the students chosen to work on the plan. She said they each wanted the buses to look unified, so they decided to take on each bus as a team.

Wheeler, a photography major, said they wanted to create environmental art scenes because the buses were hybrid. She is creating close up texture photos for added depth.

“This will make the buses interesting,” Wheeler said. “It’ll be great for the City of Eau Claire to have fun, artsy buses.”
Johns said she is working with watercolor while Benson, an illustration major, is making drawings and illustrations for his portion. She said a challenge is thinking about the bus in different pieces instead of one continuous space.

Illustration Professor Ned Gannon said the project started over the summer, but now it is crunch time for everyone. Gannon said this project is a great way for the university and students to engage with the community. He said it has been good for all the mentors.

“It’s rewarding to see this has a real world application with a broader audience,” Gannon said.

Gannon said this is a unique experience and projects such as this do not come along by themselves. They come when people make them appear.

He said the mentors and himself are engaged in the community and they want to be a part of it. He said he wants the community to thrive for current and future generations. Hopefully this project will bring light to other issues, he said.

“This project gives our students hands on, professional experience,” Kelley said. “This creates opportunities for students to learn things they will need to do when they leave this place.”

Johns said she is proud of what they have done so far, including overcoming the obstacle of figuring out how leaves could look like they are in motion.

“Once (the buses) are wrapped and out there, I can’t imagine how it will feel.”