Window dressing: Words, Art come together in FLCC Graphic Design Project

The task for photo, fine art and graphic design students at Finger Lakes Community College was a challenging one: Take words and phrases and express them as images.

Those photos, as well as works by fine art and graphic design students, are now dressing up vacant storefronts in downtown Geneva.

As Advanced Photography student Mitchell Austin, 21, of East Bloomfield, discovered, taking photos that reflect a word is not so easy.

“Touch” was one of the 13 words they were given, and they had to produce a photo for each one. Austin used his interest in food to create the connection.

His black-and-white photo, now hanging in the window of a vacant space at 114 Seneca St. that’s owned by Bob and Donna Stivers, was of a handprint in baking flour to depict the word.

“I wanted to do something different,” said Austin, who is in his final year at FLCC and hopes to study food photography at the University of Texas in the fall.

Other pictures in the storefront included three nudes, tastefully positioned as to not offend anyone. They were created by Samantha Salsman, 19, of Livonia. Her “touch” photo was of a young woman with her somewhat dirtied hands on each cheek.

The shoot, done in the dead of winter, sans snow, also produced pictures for two other words, “wild” and “abandoned.”

Like Austin, her photos were an attempt to do “something different.”

Meanwhile, over on Castle Street, graphic design and fine art students hung images they created as part of a project called “What’s your story?”

The students created a series of images with words late in the fall semester and asked passersby to give feedback on those that most resonated with them. They used that input to create the images now seen at 100-108 Castle St., a building owned by David Linger and Wendy Marsh, and at 134 Castle St., which Stivers owns. The building at 100-108 Castle St. was the longtime home of the long-shuttered Almarco Printing. It has been vacant for more than a decade.

Lacey McKinney, instructor of visual and performing arts, said the project is a great way to show the talents of FLCC students and dress up downtown Geneva.

“Anyone passing by can see the artwork,” she said as her photo students worked on the window display Monday afternoon; McKinney also was part of the Castle Street project. “It’s nice to use space that’s vacant to show what the value of art is to the community.”

That point was echoed by Liz Brownell, associate professor of graphic design at FLCC, in the college’s online newsletter.

“The idea is to lift up communities using art,” Brownell said. “These installations will bring brightness to the streets. They will draw attention to the arts and brighten up places that were less vibrant.”

McKinney said similar projects are underway at several other schools sharing in the SUNY Arts & Humanities Network of Excellence grant.

Barron Naegel, assistant professor of art at FLCC, also oversaw the project. He teaches one of the classes taking part in the Castle Street portion of the initiative.

Article Written By: Steve Buchiere