From Kansas, to Manchester and Ukraine: Beth Post's multicultural work
7 October 2016
'I have had experiences that I could have never have gained if I had stayed in Kansas', says Beth.
Our annual MA Show showcases an exciting variety of work by emerging and established artists and designers, who have undertaken postgraduate study with us.
To celebrate the show, we'll be focusing on some of our favourite pieces from this year's exhibition, as well as the opinions and experiences of the students that have created them.
In this latest piece in our series, MFA Graphic Design and Art Direction student Beth Post talks about her experience at Manchester School of Art as an international student and her project exploring Ukrainian typography.
'Just over one year ago, I packed my bags, stripped myself of many possessions and prepared to make the move from the American Midwest. I had decided to further my training in Graphic Design by pursuing a postgraduate degree with the Manchester School of Art.
When people hear about this major upheaval, I’m always asked “why Manchester”?
After living here for a year, I can say that I believe that the city is a centre of innovation for the creative mind. I was intrigued by the way Manchester School of Art encourages students to go outside of their comfort zone by enabling interdisciplinary approaches to their work. More than research and theory, the implementation of ideas is what truly piqued my interest in Manchester. So here I am.
Over the course of my undergraduate degree I had developed an interest in typography, shaping and developing my designs around letterforms. This practice became the foundation for what I wished to pursue on a postgraduate level.
Initially, I thought I would focus on how culture affected typography within a design. However, once I began research, my topic transformed. Where I am today is certainly not the direction I anticipated from the beginning, and I think my project is the better for it! Studying and researching the Cyrillic alphabet and its individual letterforms was a completely new concept for me to grasp. I had never experienced these shapes within design before but I was curious to take on the challenge.
I jumped in at the deep end and visited Ukraine in order to immerse myself in this literally foreign letterform culture and experience unfamiliar graphic design first hand. At first, I focused on simply capturing images of signage, monuments, and buildings for use in my practice when I returned to Manchester but had a meeting with the director of a local branding firm and this meeting would go on to shape my entire project.
I took a two-week internship with this same branding agency on my next visit, working alongside Ukrainian designers and networking within the local design community, speaking to university students, professors, and even a famous Ukrainian calligrapher. Under these influences, my project emerged. I would investigate Eastern Ukrainian identity through typography.
Calligraphy and embroidery were found to be methods of practice fundamental to the identity of Ukraine so I embraced the two media. My tutor pushed me to continue pursuing these methods and to reach out to the global Ukrainian community for feedback as my work took shape. Without this, I do not feel I would have truly conveyed the message of identity in my final work, that of a regional identity crisis in Eastern Ukraine. I knew that I must produce a body of work that expressed Eastern Ukraine’s struggle between independence, the influence of neighboring Russia and its recent Soviet past.
I have had experiences that I could never have gained if I had stayed in Kansas. The Manchester School of Art encourages a multidisciplinary approach which was vital to my final project. Both the School and the city offer unbounded opportunities in the creative arts which clearly contributes to the success of individual student projects. All of these resources are certainly the reason why I was able to do the things I longed to do.’
You can see Beth's work at our MA Show until 8 October. To find out more information about the show, its opening times and to view other students' work visit: www.art.mmu.ac.uk/mashow/
Want to hear from more exhibiting designers and artists? You can find previous pieces from our MA Show featured artists and designers series on our news page.