Category Archives: Arts & Sciences

My Love Affair with April Greiman

It all started in college.

I was studying graphic design at the University of Illinois when I came across a copy of WET magazine (“gourmet bathing” according to the tagline on the cover). This was in the early 1980s and we’re deep in the minimalist modern “Swiss” era where any decoration in art was frowned upon. So this copy of WET that I held in my hands, well it looked like it came from Mars. It was funky, it was spicy, it smelled of something illegal and it was the opposite of the rational design thinking my professors were trying to instill in their students. It wasn’t until much later that I found out April Greiman was one of the people behind this magazine (even though her name was not on the masthead).

California-style postmodernism as envisioned by April Greiman et al (1979)

As an art student (yes, design was taught in the “art” department), I dutifully imitated what I saw in WET. What I copied was the surface qualities of April’s work. I was an excellent forger, but unfortunately my professors had already ruined me. My mind had already embraced their modernist philosophies, and I couldn’t unlearn what I had already been taught. Little did I know that modernism was already dying a quick death. April Greiman had killed it in California and kick-started the postmodern era in graphic design just as I was about to graduate.

Today, students get to read about April Greiman in history books. She is one of the few female graphic designers acknowledged in an industry dominated by men. When I saw her face in the new documentary “Graphic Means: A History of Graphic Design Production,” I immediately sent her an email. I told her about our upcoming movie premiere event and begged her to join us for a panel discussion after the film. After a little prodding, she said “yes” to a Skype interview.

One of my favorite early April Greiman designs that I tried to rip-off.

“Graphic Means” is a brand-new documentary about the pre-digital period of graphic design known as the “cold type” era (you’ll have to see the movie to understand why the funny name). This is the same era glamorized in the “Mad Men” TV series. Fans of this period are in love with the fashion and furniture design of the “mid-century modern” style as featured in the TV series. But this was also the epitome of overt sexism in the workplace where women were literally worth half as much as men. Both sides of the story are told in great detail in “Graphic Means.”

Vintage retro promo graphic for the “cold type” era (circa 1975)

“Graphic Means” is Briar Levit’s first film and it hits all the marks of a great documentary. From her selection of offbeat on-screen characters she interviewed to her selection of ironic retro archival footage, “Graphic Means” is a rich and amusing visual experience. It’s also stuffed full of fascinating facts and stories not often told. I predict that in time, “Graphic Means” will rise to the level of “Helvetica” as one of the important must-see cultural documentaries of our time. And she made the film with Kickstarter funds and an all-female crew.


“Graphic Means” is currently making the rounds at film festivals, film societies, museums and specialty cinemas in Australia, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, New Zealand, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, UK, and across the US (see full list). Champaign is lucky to be on the list of premiere cities and Parkland is very lucky to be able to host both the filmmaker and April Greiman via Skype for a post-screening discussion.

And what about that “love affair” with April? Well I did graduate from the University of Illinois with a BFA and a portfolio of fake postmodern projects (but it made me look “cool” and got me good jobs). Later, after I started teaching graphic design history at Parkland, I really got to know April’s work deeply (since I had to explain what “postmodernism” means to my students). Now my students make Powerpoint presentations about her and design T-shirts that pay tribute to her.

A tribute T-shirt design by Parkland Student Brandon Cherry

And then in 2004, it happened. I met April Greiman for the first time. I was on the board of the now defunct Ad Club of Champaign-Urbana and we had the money to bring someone big and important to town for a presentation. On a lark, we invited April and she came. She even made a stop at Parkland in L111 and chatted with the students.

In 2004, April Greiman visited Champaign-Urbana (click the image above to jump to our Facebook gallery)

As a souvenir, she handed out little “fortune cookie” strips that said “If thinking, think nothing” (it’s a Buddhist thing). Those are now collector’s items. I got to design the promos for her visit and this time I got it right. I was able to capture the joy of flying against convention and breaking rules just for the sake of breaking rules with this experimental web page:

Website promotion designed by Paul Young as a tribute to April Greiman (2004)

And then in 2015, it happened again. On a trip to Las Vegas, my wife and I decided to take a little detour to Joshua Tree National Park. We knew April Greiman owned a motel near there so we booked a few nights at her little hideaway called Miracle Manor. And what a little miracle it is, fed with natural mineral-rich hot springs right from under the motel directly into her pool. And on the day we arrived?April was there with her boyfriend and it was her birthday! Hanging out with April by the pool on this special day? Priceless.

Miracle Manor: April Greiman’s retreat in Desert Hot Springs CA

And now it’s going to happen for a third time. Tomorrow night, I get to moderate a panel discussion about “Graphic Means” with April Greiman participating on the panel live via Skype. Joining us will be four other local designers and educators as well as the director of the film (see complete list of panelists). Am I nervous? Nah not really. She’s a really cool gal and really easy to talk to. Besides, I’ve met her before.

Click the above image to jump to the movie premiere promo site for advanced tickets and all the details.

Discounted advanced ticket sales will end on Tuesday, November 14 at 12 noon, but tickets will still be available at the door. Here are the details of our one-night only movie premiere special event:

Thanks to our generous sponsors, 100% of the box office receipts will benefit Giertz Gallery at Parkland College.

[Paul Young is the program director of Graphic Design at Parkland College.]

Heading to College? What’s Your ETA?

Parkland College is excited to offer District 505 high school and home-schooled students a great new opportunity to complete college general education courses while still in high school.

Parkland’s new Early Transfer Academy (ETA) is a fast track to college that gives students in their last two years of high school a new, structured opportunity to complete the general education courses required at nearly all four-year institutions. High school and home-schooled students age 15 and older  who meet Parkland’s reading, writing, and math placement requirements will be able to register for selected courses offered at times planned to fit their schedule.

  • Students in the first year of the two-year program will take classes with faculty who have incorporated learning skills into their curriculum. Students participating in the ETA will not only earn transferable college credit but will gain experiences that will increase their chances of success as they move on to a four-year university. While in the first year, students will gain experience in time management, online learning, academic planning, and organization of workload.
  • In the second year, ETA participating students will be able to choose from a wider range of general education courses that allow them take classes apart from the group. The two-year schedule helps students gradually become comfortable with the college environment, so that they are ready for the next step upon graduating from high school.

Courses offered through the ETA will fulfill the requirements of the General Education Core Curriculum as identified by the Illinois Articulation Act. This public act states that upon completion of the GECC, no student will be required to take additional lower-division general education courses at any public college or university in Illinois. All public colleges and most private institutions in Illinois accept the courses in the GECC. The GECC includes courses in humanities, fine arts, social sciences, mathematics, and physical and life sciences.

A high school student who enters the ETA as a junior could complete the entire GECC package by the time he or she graduates from high school. That same student could potentially complete an associate’s degree at Parkland in one year after high school and then transfer to a four-year institution with only two years needed to complete a bachelor’s degree. Alternatively, a student completing the GECC through the ETA could transfer those credits directly to a four-year institution and complete a bachelor’s degree in three years or less. Participation in the ETA could mean significant savings in college costs as well as a greater chance at college success because of the experiences gained on Parkland’s campus.

Who/What: The ETA is an early college program for high school juniors and seniors designed to help students move through coursework included in the General Education Core Curriculum requirements for college. Students will get a head start on their college degree/program completion and, at the same time, receive support from faculty and staff who are dedicated to helping students successfully navigate the transition from high school to higher education.

Where/When: ETA students will choose between a morning or afternoon track to complete three different courses each semester. Morning classes will meet 8–9:15 a.m. Monday–Friday, and afternoon classes will meet 4–5:15 p.m. Monday–Friday, at the Parkland College main campus in Champaign.

How: Registration is open to incoming juniors and seniors, 15 years of age or older. The registration window is February 1–June 1, 2018. Students will work with their high school counselors to complete the necessary registration requirements and determine dual credit eligibility. To register, students will need to submit:

  • a non-degree-seeking admissions form to Parkland College
  • a dual credit/dual enrollment request form
  • qualifying ACT or SAT scores, or complete the appropriate Parkland College placement test

Program Details:

  • Students can choose either the 8–9:15 a.m. track or the 4–5:15 p.m. track. Both have identical course offerings. Classes will meet M–F.
  • Students must meet the placement requirements for each course, either through Parkland placement testing, SAT, or ACT.
  • ETA Year 1 students will be in a cohort together.
  • Cost for the ETA will include Parkland College in-district tuition, fees, and books.
  • Payment plans will be available to help families distribute the cost throughout the semester. We are currently exploring scholarship opportunities but do not want to present that as an option until we are 100 percent certain funds will be available.
  • All courses meet the requirements set forth by the Illinois Articulation Initiative, meaning they are part of the General Education Core Curriculum and will transfer.
  • Friday classes are hybrid. This means that the class will meet every Friday, but 50 percent of the class will be conducted online, using Parkland’s online course management platform, COBRA. Through these courses, students will learn how to succeed in an online college course.
  • High schools will determine whether or not enrollment in ETA will simultaneously earn high school credit. The enrollment process will remain the same either way; the only difference is whether the student is granted high school credits.
  • ETA Year 2 classes will include life/physical science courses, mathematics, and communications.
  • Year 2 students will have more options for their schedule and will be mixed into classes with ‘general population’ students. Parkland will make every attempt to modify the Year 2 schedule if a student can earn dual credits through their home high school. For example, if a student is able to take a Year 2 class at their home high school, we will substitute another required course in its place.

***Parkland College is hosting an ETA Open House (Information Session) on Monday, November 13 from 6 to 8 p.m. Interested students and their parents are invited to attend to learn more about the program. Registration to the open house is available at parkland.edu/ETAopenhouse.***

[Nancy Sutton , Ed.D., is dean of the division of arts and sciences at Parkland College and one of the ETA coordinators.]

In the Shadow of the Moon

I guess this is where I’m supposed to describe the Great American Total Solar Eclipse of August 21. The problem is, I can’t. I’ve been attempting to come up with words that would give the event its props and, I’ll admit, I’m coming up short.

Camp Ondessonk. Online photo from Korte & Luitjohan Contractors, Inc.

I’ve been asked many times “How were things in Carbondale?” I didn’t go to Carbondale. That venue was a bit overcrowded for me. My and CU Astronomical Society colleagues and I descended on Camp Ondessonk, near Ozark, Illinois. The Catholic youth camp was previously directed by my brother-in-law, and my kids spent a lot of time there. We set up telescopes in an impressive row in a horse pasture, meaning you had to pay close attention to where you erected your tent! We had numerous telescopes from CUAS, the twin city group from Bloomington-Normal, and University of Illinois students. And my daughter made the trip from Chicago to go with us.

We arrived Saturday morning to avoid traffic, and my wife and daughter took part in some of the camp’s amenities like archery, hiking, and craft-making. Carl Wenning (ISU) and I did three workshops each on Sunday, and Carl did a keynote after dinner. The food was awesome! They treated us well! Stargazing was a bit disappointing as we were greeted with heavy dew and clouds both Saturday and Sunday night. But the main event was Monday.

The observing field (half of it anyway). Photo by Dave Leake.

We all smiled as we opened our tents Monday morning, greeted by blue skies with a few clouds. I did two radio interviews via cell phone before breakfast and then spent the rest of the morning setting up equipment. Our camp director said that with the influx of “Monday only” traffic (no overnight accommodations), he expected 800 people in the camp. I used my telescope to project an image of the Sun, about a foot in diameter, on a poster board. It was here that I shouted, “first contact” to the group right at 11:53 a.m.

The partial eclipse as projected by a colander. Photo by Dave Leake.

We watched as the Moon seemed to consume a wonderful sunspot group on the Sun’s face. People used pegboards, mailing tubes, and even colanders to project the partial eclipse.

As the Moon overtook the Sun, everything seemed “weird!” It is difficult to articulate! Shadows became sharper and the countryside took on a pale appearance as if it were twilight, but it was everywhere (not just one direction) and the Sun was high in the sky! It got darker and cooler. At the first diamond ring, a roar came from the crowd and there was applause as we bathed in the Moon’s shadow. The horizons stayed relatively bright, but the sky overhead darkened and Venus became brilliant. Jupiter was visible east of the Sun.

Eclipse totality at Ozark, Illinois. Photo by Saiko Rosenberger.

Some colleagues began snapping photos. I did not. This was my first total eclipse and I was advised just to watch. That was great advice. It was an emotional scene:

  • My daughter was there, with whom I had shared telescopic views of Saturn when she was just a tyke. She spent seven years as a camper here, so this was a homecoming for her.
  • Chuck Greenwood was there from Florida; he was Staerkel Planetarium’s show producer when I started. We presented shows together for 12 years. Frank Oriold was there from St. Charles. Frank and I were in the UI Astro Club together in 1981 and I had not seen him in years. Mike Rosenberger was there with his wife. Mike and I co-founded CUAS back in 1986—a lifelong friend.
  • And I was wearing my dad’s eclipse T-shirt. I lost him in 2015. The coronal streamers were nothing short of spectacular and the Moon’s perimeter took on a pearl white color. He would have loved this!

My wife kept a timer on her phone and, at 2.5 minutes, I yelled “have your glasses ready!” The second diamond ring was more dramatic than the first. The Sun’s brilliant light appeared as a point that grew in size. Given the high ice crystal clouds in the area, the point was surrounded by brilliant colors and the crowd gasped. Afterwards, club members gathered and either hugged or provided a “high five.” It was only 2.5 minutes but it will be etched in our memories forever!

The next eclipse in the area will be April 8, 2024. I hope I’m around for it. What an amazing experience! I didn’t even mind the 6.5-hour drive home!

[David Leake is director of the William M. Staerkel Planetarium at Parkland College.]

Parkland Students Excavate at Allerton Park!

Authored by Erin Riggs, PhD student and Parkland Field Archaeology instructor

Parkland Students who participated in the archeological field dig.

Exotic settings, buried secrets, treks through the jungle—these are all things you (and the typical undergraduate student) might associate with archaeology. We make this association because that is how archaeology is portrayed by such pop culture icons as Indiana Jones and Lara Croft. As Parkland’s field school students would be quick to tell you, there are usually snakes and spiders involved. Otherwise, this portrayal is not very accurate.

Actually, the majority of professional archaeologists in the United States are employed in Cultural Resource Management (CRM) and work domestically (Malloy 2017). CRM archaeologists survey areas that are about to be developed for construction. In these areas, they collect information on existing material heritage and steer development away from sites protected by law. Archaeology in America is primarily this: protecting and contributing to what we know about the the historic landscapes that surround us every day, under our streets, lawns, and public parks.

Students rarely learn about CRM archaeology when they attend a traditional archaeological field school. More often than not, field schools are located overseas and are marketed as study-abroad experiences (Boytner 2012). They also can be prohibitively expensive, ranging in cost from $1,000 to $6,000 (Perry 2006).  While these experiences can be incredible opportunities, they often leave students with little knowledge of the archaeological job opportunities and infrastructures here at home.

At Parkland College this summer, we wanted students to work on an archaeological project within their own community. We wanted our course  to be accessible to students who might not have the funds or time required to attend a field school abroad. We achieved these goals through collaboration with the Illinois State Archaeological Survey (ISAS), the primary CRM group in Illinois. ISAS had recently surveyed Allerton Park in conjunction with a trail improvement project. Their survey work rekindled interest in a mound cluster existent on the property, Samuel’s Mounds. Allerton is a unique space within Illinois—an island of relatively undisturbed, unplowed forest land in the midst of a sea of agricultural fields.

Through our Parkland College/ISAS collaboration, students were able to assist professional archaeologists in excavating at this site in late July. They opened 1×1 meter square units around the mounds (leaving the mounds themselves undisturbed) to search for artifacts and features. We hoped to find something diagnostic that could help ISAS associate the mound group with a culture and time period. The materials are still being washed and inventoried. However, our first guess based on observations in the field point towards Middle to Late Woodland—meaning this site is likely 1,000 to 2,000 years old!

Parkland students worked hard and had a great time! In the process, they grew familiar with some of the quintessential features of CRM work—shovel testing, eating packed lunches in the field, the necessity of redundancy and precision in CRM paperwork, the tedium of a day without many artifacts, and the sheer joy of finally finding something of interest!

Here is what students had to say after completing the course:

“Although there were bugs buzzing around my ear every second, intense heat, and labor intensive digging, this field school allowed me to experience real fieldwork and gave me the satisfaction of unearthing an artifact which may help give context to these ancient mounds. I’m a bit sore, but I have greatly enjoyed this experience.” -Josh Boone (Senior, Anthropology)

“I never once thought I would be a part of an archaeological field school. But here I am, 5 days after leaving the field, and I am still thinking about the great experience I had! From our individual projects, to digging hand units, to shovel testing, I had a blast! It was tedious, and quite a few times I thought about backing down, but there is no quitting in archaeology! I learned so much over the past six weeks, and I’d do it all over again if I had the chance.” -Evyjo Compton (Senior, Animal Science)

“The experience I have gained from this field school has been excellent, and I plan to use what I have learned in my future. I have gained many valuable skills while also having a lot of fun. I am so very thankful that the Illinois State Archaeological Survey allowed us to assist them.” -Kaleb Cotter (Junior, Anthropology)

 

Cited

Boytner, Ran. 2012. “The Changing Nature of Archaeological Field Schools.” The SAA Archaeological Record 12 (1): 29-32.

Malloy, Maureen. ” Questions About: Archaeology As A Career.” Questions About: Archaeology As A Career. Accessed August 04, 2017. http://www.saa.org/ForthePublic/FAQs/ForAdults/QuestionsAboutArchaeologyAsACareer/tabid/975/Default.aspx.

Perry, E. Jennifer. 2006. From Students to Professionals: Archaeological Field Schools as Authentic Research Communities. The SAA Archaeological Record 6(1):25–29.

PRECS Summer Research “Invaluable” to Students

Ten science-focused students from community colleges across Illinois and two other states came to Champaign recently to participate in the inaugural summer of PRECS (Phenotypic Plasticity Research Experience for Community College Students), a research experience for undergraduates program (REU) funded by the National Science Foundation. PRECS provides community college students with authentic research experiences in the area of phenotypic plasticity, the phenomenon in which a single genotype produces multiple phenotypes depending on environment.

Our summer program started with a two-week boot camp at Parkland College on May 24. The boot camp prepared participants for the eight-week research immersion portion of the program, where students became integrated into research laboratories at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The immersion portion ran through July 26.

PRECS is different from the NSF’s other REU programs in two ways. First, although most programs include research immersion experience, it is less common to have a boot camp. Second, many REU programs are designed for undergraduates in their junior and senior years, while PRECS is specially designed to meet the needs of community college students, who may not have had any research experience and relatively few college-level science courses. In fact, as far as we can tell, PRECS is the first NSF REU in the field of biology to be open exclusively to community college students and to have a community college faculty member as one of the creators and administrators of the program.

As our program wraps up, two PRECS participants,  Elliot Ping and Aaron West, share a bit about their experiences and what they are taking away from this excellent summer opportunity (below).

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“PRECS provided a platform for growth and learning, both academically and professionally, while also providing a candid look at what it’s like to be a part of a research lab. The program has been a whirlwind of learning opportunities (including the mistakes and frustrations that often come paired with them) from start to finish. These experiences, from the outright failures to the great successes, are all good preparation for what it means to be a person in research.

An average workday for me was 9 am to 5 pm, sometimes earlier or later depending on what we were doing. If we could only get a timeslot on the confocal microscope at 8 am or at 6 pm, for example, then the day would be adjusted differently. The specific project I was working on involved a lot of downtime between steps while things ran their course, so I had the opportunity to learn other skills (like R programming and other software skills), read papers, and shadow other members of the lab.

My favorite moment was when we finally got our antibodies to work. We were at the confocal microscope doing a continuous scan to get a look at the brain tissue, and we found real colocalized staining on the sample. It felt good to see my efforts come together and to get good images of something, especially after something like two weeks of repeated failure.

This summer, I have gained more perspective about science as an institution than I gathered through the entire course of my associate’s degree. Research is not the simple, straightforward thing many people think it to be. It is failing and trying again, or trying something else, until you get it right, and, like with most other things worth doing, it takes practice, patience, and outright stubbornness to gain the skills necessary to make success a possibility.

I will hold close to my heart for a very long time the relationships I have built and the education I have received, both formal and informal, from working and studying in the PRECS program. The opportunity to work, learn, and present, especially when coupled with the guidance of so many knowledgeable, experienced people, has been, and will likely continue to prove itself to be, utterly invaluable to my development as a student and as a professional-in-the-making in the sciences. I am so grateful to Parkland College and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for working to make this opportunity for community college students possible. It has been a privilege to be involved with PRECS, and I would encourage any community college student who thinks research may be for them to look into this or other opportunities as something that can both broaden their horizons for the future and deepen their understanding and appreciation of the things they are learning in the classroom.”   — Elliot Ping

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“I am honored to have been picked to participate in PRECS (Phenotypic Plasticity Research Experience for Community College Students). Coming from a community college located in the south suburbs of Chicago, I only had a vague sense of what being in a lab entailed. What PRECS would go on to teach me this summer is the community a lab has. Every lab is different, specializing in different fields, participating in different research.

PRECS has been a great program to participate in over the past 10 weeks. It has prepared a mindset geared toward graduate school. PRECS has exposed me to real-world scientific practices, and stresses. PRECS gave me a true experience, exposing me to what my life would be like after graduating with my bachelor’s degree. I feel more prepared moving forward with my education. Whether I go on to continue scientific research or not is not foreseen, but I know that it is a viable option.” — Aaron West

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For more information about PRECS, visit precs.igb.illinois.edu.

[C. Britt Carlson, PhD, is an associate professor of chemistry in the  Natural Sciences department at Parkland College.]