by Ellen rossow
Film. Graphic Design. Writing. Mass comm. In almost all majors, MSUM students are taught the importance of building a strong portfolio of work while they are here. But for students in the School of Visual Arts Certificate program, an entire fifth year of school is dedicated to just that.
Illustrator Michelle Mork is one of the students who participated in the optional certificate program this year in order to strengthen her body of work. Mork, along with her program peers, currently has her works on display in the Roland Dille Center for the Arts gallery.
Excited to be able to share her pieces with the public, Mork knew exactly what her plan was for the show when she started the program last fall.
“The certificate year is very self-motivated,” she explained. “I went into the fall semester knowing exactly which projects I wanted to work on throughout the year and finally exhibit.”
According to Mork, all certificate students utilized a commitee of professors for guidance and critiques, but ultimately had the final say in what works were exhibited.
“I know the other two students had to select from a large body of work for the show, but I had my pieces specifically planned out,” she said.
Mork’s pieces are digital works — a webcomic and costume designs. Mork’s webcomic is a little more than halfway finished, but she has the story outlined and scripted. According to Mork, besides planning the actual piece, transitioning a webcomic to be viewed in the Art Gallery took some planning.
“In the gallery I simply displayed them on computers, since it’s meant to be read on a screen, not in print form,” she said. “In order to make the computers more inviting, I painted the wall and tables and brought in colored lighting to really set an atmosphere that would be appealing to people who would otherwise just walk past the computers.”
Mork’s costume design concepts are based on material from fantasy books. According to Mork, the creative process for this project proved to be vastly different than working on her webcomic.
“It took a lot of research and was different to work on than my comic because instead of creating everything myself, I was working off someone else’s ideas,” she said.
Her costume design project includes 20 different pieces.
After graduation, Mork hopes to continue work as an illustrator, either for comics or as a visual developer for animation and games.
“I’m really open to trying out different things in my field, but character creation and development is my favorite subject and is in my opinion my strongest,” she said.
No matter where Mork ends up after graduation, it’s clear through her exhibit in the gallery that her time at MSUM has helped her prepare for what lies ahead.
Mork’s work, along with the work of her program peers, will be on display in the Center for the Arts gallery until May 9. The gallery is open for free viewing 9 a.m. – 9 p.m. Monday – Friday and 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Saturdays.