New decorative wall hangings inspired by science now adorn the walls of the Life Science Building at Mesa Community College’s Southern and Dobson Campus. The custom wool rugs are the result of collaboration between the Interior Design and Life Science Departments.
Andrew Baldwin, life science faculty, and Janice Pierson, interior design faculty, worked together to assist Pierson’s students as they turned patterns from science into attractive designs.
The project began when Baldwin approached Pierson and suggested that the halls of the science building badly needed something to both beautify the walls and to educate/inspire students as they study or wait for classes. He didn't think the college should hire or contract art outside of the college when MCC had talented design students right on campus.
"I saw this as a win-win situation," Baldwin said. "Our students get to display their work on our campus, we get to showcase their work in our halls and make our student soft spaces more educational and friendly. In addition, students get to actually produce products for real clients (us), and two very different departments that each had needs were able to help each other out. Janice saw the benefit in my idea and jumped on board."
At the beginning of the project, students examined science patterns underneath a microscope to get inspirations for their designs.
MCC student Stacy Schneider, whose rug titled “Departure,” was inspired by fungus patterns.
“I have a science background, so I was really excited about putting science into design,” Schneider said. "The things that caught our eye, we took to paper, and then sketched—about 10 versions--narrowed it down, added color and then wrote the concept statement."
Schneider, whose finished product is an attractive red and brown design, said that having a real client inspired her to try and exceed the expectations.
For some students, the project had personal meaning. Brittany Hatch wasn’t sure at first what she would choose for her design, but when she found a neuron pattern, she knew what her project would be. Her sister, Crista, was diagnosed at age 15 with Myasthenia Gravis, an autoimmune disease in which the neurons don’t always work correctly and causes muscle fatigue and other symptoms.
“I decided I wanted to make this design about her and her fight,” Hatch said. “She has since overcome it and she is in remission now. The project was very meaningful to both of us.”
Carol Achs, Dean of Academic Affairs, said the project was a terrific collaboration.
"The most exciting part of this is the integration of learning between two departments that had probably nothing else in common," Achs said.
Baldwin is pleased with the project as well.
"I could not have dreamed of a better outcome," Baldwin said.
The student designs were made into custom wool rugs by W.F. Carter and Associates, a trade-only resource. The company is an industry partner and made the rugs for MCC at a fraction of the cost.
Student designers include Brittany Hatch, Peggy Perkins, Stacy Schneider and Sarah Todd.
About Mesa Community College
Mesa Community College provides outstanding transfer and career and technical programs, workforce development, and life-long learning opportunities to residents of the East Valley area of Phoenix, Arizona. MCC excels in teaching, learning and empowering its more than 40,000 students to succeed in a local and global community. Mesa Community College is one of ten colleges that comprise the Maricopa County Community College District.
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