Painted benches brighten campus

Painted benches brighten campus

by Melissa Artobello

 “Art humanizes us,” Head of San Diego State’s Graphic Design Program Patricia Cué Couttolenc said. “Art connects us. It shows us a side of life that we would not otherwise see. It’s something that I think can enrich the university greatly.”

It’s for these reasons that the College of Professional Studies and Fine Arts has created the Arts Visibility Project. Nine major projects are planned in hopes of promoting the arts at SDSU. The goals of the project are to increase awareness of art events and opportunities, increase student attendance and expand art events and practices in the curriculum at SDSU.

“The idea—the goal—is to bring art to the whole campus, to make an art-infused campus and to expose students to art and give them opportunities to be involved with the arts more,” Couttolenc said.

The first project is the Performing Arts Plaza bench designs, in which students have painted their own designs on the benches by the Performing Arts buildings. A task force within PSFA, in which Couttolenc is a part of, came up with the idea and assigned her as head of the project.

Couttolenc teaches graphic design and a class on environmental graphic design. One of the class projects involves designing a signage system that directs those on campus to the School of Art and Design. It’s a hypothetical project, but the arts visibility bench project is turning those ideas and concepts into reality.

“We’re going to use the benches as a placemaking device,” Couttolenc said.  “They’re going to be elements that you visually connect together. (The students) are presenting the benches as opportunities for resting, reading, observing or eating. The designs invite students to do those things.”

“The benches will mean different things to different viewers,” PSFA Director of Community Engagement and Innovative Programs Randy Reinholz said. “Some people will smile. Others will stop and consider something new—ideas beyond their normal day-to-day routine. Others will be inspired to do something different. Lots of people may even consider when they see the benches, that they are standing in a part of the campus that is surrounded by the arts.”

The designs for the benches were a class project. However, the competition was open to any students of art and design. There were 26 design submissions and a panel of judges narrowed the choices down to 19 for the benches in the Performing Arts Plaza. Many of the submissions chosen were designed by students enrolled in Art 454 and majoring in graphic design.

Photo by Kristian Carreon, staff photographer.