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Department of Visual Communication and Design

The Department of Visual Communication and Design is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).

Haig David-West,
Department Chair and Professor

Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne
2101 E. Coliseum Boulevard
Fort Wayne, IN 46805-1499

Office: Visual Arts Building
Room: VA213
Hours: Mon - Fri 8 am - 5 pm

Phone: 260-481-6709
Fax: 260-481-6707


Fine Arts | Music | Theatre | VCD

High School Students Compete and Win

The Visual Arts Building was teeming with talented high school student artists and their families on Nov. 20 as they celebrated having their work included in the recent IPFW High School Art and Design Competition and Exhibition. Seven cash awards and six honorable mentions were presented in Auer Performance Hall at 6 p.m., including Best in Show, chosen by Sachi Yanari-Rizzo, Fort Wayne Museum of Art curator of prints and drawings. The awards were followed by an open house featuring studio and lab demonstrations, along with viewing the artwork.

Designed as a recruiting initiative to identify promising high school art students and connect them with IPFW, 1,700 high schools and individual art teachers in Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan were invited to compete. One hundred forty-three students entered for Fine Arts and 102 students for Visual Communication and Design, with more than 700 individual pieces of art submitted. Selected works will be exhibited through Dec. 14, 2014, in the Visual Arts Gallery.

Fine Arts Winners

First Place - $200
Renee Malomboza, Jefferson High School
Blue Daisies, oil on canvas

Second Place - $150
Aaliyah Miller, Carroll High School
Forbidden, wood sculpture

Third Place - $100
Savannah Swan, Mississinewa High School
Vagabond, oil on canvas

Honorable Mention
Rebecca Clay, Northrop High School
Music of the Heart, jewelry making

Honorable Mention
Lauren Haag, William Henry Harrison High School
Home of the Brave, soft pastel

Honorable Mention
Lillian Sprinkle, Huntington North High School
Love Affair, altered book/mixed media

Visual Communication and Design Winners

VCD First Place - $200
Taylor Terrell, Carroll High School
Twisted, photography

VCD Second Place - $150
Miranda Reagan, Jefferson High School
Convinced I’m Coming Clean, digital photography

VCD Third Place - $100
Erin Zehr, Carroll High School
Alzheimer’s: A Timeline, darkroom photography

VCD Honorable Mention
Madeline Barry, Bishop Dwenger High School
Generations, photography

VCD Honorable Mention
Joseph David Horn, Chesterton High School
Hagia Sophia-Church of Holy Wisdom, drawn on Autocad-3D Print

VCD Honorable Mention
Audrey Ottenweller, Carroll High School
Soiled, photography

Best in Show - $500
Emily Vandervate, Jefferson High School
Saving Grace, inkjet print

Fort Wayne Museum of Art’s Sachi Yanari-Rizzo had the following remarks regarding the exhibition and the quality of work presented by the students, “I am always impressed with the technical skill and craftsmanship as well as the diverse ideas that high school students dare to create these days. It was a challenge to single out an overall award winner because the quality of the work was so high.  I responded to pieces that possessed technical skillfulness, strong composition and compelling content and imagery.”

 “However, the work that kept drawing me back was Emily Vandervate’s inkjet print entitled Saving Grace which seemed to possess a spiritual quality. Intimate in scale, the subject is of a young woman—ironically a child herself—cradling a young child. Wax on the surface created a more diffused effect, but reminded me of old Christian cathedrals. In this pose, particularly with the tender reaching gesture of the young child, it called to my mind a reference to Madonna and Child paintings.”

The event committee included Mikhael Antone, assistant professor of imaging and photography; Suining Ding, associate professor of interior design; Susan Domer, marketing and public relations specialist; James Gabbard, continuing lecturer in photography; Christopher Ganz, associate professor of drawing and printmaking; and Dana Goodman, professor of sculpture.

Full Accreditation Milestone for VPA

The College of Visual and Performing Arts has reached a milestone moment, having received notification in November of their first ever associate level membership accreditation by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Now all of the departments in the College of Visual and Performing Arts are fully accredited by their respective national organizations, continuing to offer students the same academic rigor and artistic opportunities available at more than 300 accredited colleges and universities across the nation.

The IPFW NASAD steering committee was responsible for preparing a 300-page self-study and hundreds of examples of student work for review. The self-study and site visit resulted in full accreditation through 2020.

The driving forces behind this effort are VPA Dean John O’Connell; John Hrehov, chair of Fine Arts; Haig David-West, chair of Visual Communication and Design (VCD); Suining Ding, associate professor of interior design and coordinator of the Interior Design Program, and the faculty and staff in the Departments of Fine Arts and Visual Communication and Design.

The following programs have been accredited by NASAD:
Bachelor of Arts – 4 years: Fine Art, Art Education
Bachelor of Science – 4 years: Interior Design
Bachelor of Fine Arts – 4 years: Art (Ceramics, Drawing, Metalsmithing, Painting, Printmaking, Sculpture); 
   Visual Communication and Design (Graphic Design, Imaging and Photography, Modeling and Animation)

Interior Design Joins College of VPA

The Interior Design program at IPFW has found a new home and has enhanced resources for students studying in this exciting area of design. During the recent NASAD accreditation process administrators learned that Interior Design would need to be accredited in the process along with Fine Arts and Visual Communication and Design.  “At that point we realized that the most appropriate college for the Interior Design program to be affiliated with was the College of Visual and Performing Art,” said Dean John O’Connell.

VPA administrators, along with Manufacturing and Construction Engineering Technology and the Office of the Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs, worked to make the transition possible in July 2014. The program is now part of the Department of Visual Communication and Design (VCD), chaired by Professor Haig David-West.

“I’ve always held the position that Interior Design is a cognate discipline to VCD,” said David-West. “I consider the migration of Interior Design into VCD a logical one. In addition to increasing our student enrollment, the Interior Design program brings with it faculty with impressive academic and professional credentials to improve VCD’s intellectual diversity.”

The program has new office and classroom space beginning spring 2015 dedicated to Interior Design in the Modular Classroom Building on the north end of main campus that will house 25 new computers in the computer lab as well as the materials library.

“We are thrilled to be part of the College of Visual and Performing Arts,” said Suining Ding, associate professor of interior design and coordinator of the Interior Design program. “With the new computer lab, we will be in close proximity to the other college departments where students will have access to required drawing and design classes, making their educational experience more enriched by connecting them with more student artists.”

Faculty Having Regional Impact

The IPFW Fine Arts and Visual Communication and Design faculty were featured in an exhibition at Indiana University East’s new fine arts gallery, Room 912, located in downtown Richmond, Ind. The exhibition, Regional Impact: Faculty Work from the IU Regional Campuses ran from January 31 – March 7, 2014, and also included faculty members from IU East in Richmond, IU Kokomo, IUN in Gary, IUSB in South Bend, and IUSE in New Albany.

IPFW faculty featured in this exhibition included John Hrehov, Nancy McCroskey-Hrehov, Derek Decker, Brandon Furness, Robert F. Schroeder, Audrey Ushenko, Jim Gabbard, Christopher Ganz, Dana Goodman, Sara Nordling, James Jur, Gretchen Kunberger, Mikhael Antone and Andres Montenegro.

Robert F. Schroeder, professional curator and associate faculty in metalsmithing, traveled to Richmond to see the gallery and exhibition, which includes his work. “The gallery is in a double wide former retail store front on Main Street in downtown Richmond, and community outreach is the main focus of the gallery’s use of this space. They are teaching several extension adult art classes in the space, collaborating with the Richmond Art Museum and other local arts organizations,” said Schroeder.

Schroeder went on to say, “The University has prepared the walls of the gallery to support framed art works and be repaired easily for rotating exhibitions and changing the art works displayed. They installed track lighting and have movable walls to change the configuration of the floor plan, giving them flexibility for hosting smaller as well as a bit larger exhibitions.”

This event is the first event at IU East’s new downtown gallery and it is hoped the exhibit will help increase accessibility to the arts and help educate the public about the importance of the arts, while improving the quality of life in the area. In speaking of the gallery, Katherine Frank, dean of Humanities and Social Sciences at IU East, believes that having students and faculty contribute to and experience this process will strengthen teaching and learning in Richmond and help rejuvenate the city.

Brooke Francesi’s Nightlife

Brooke Francesi (’09, BFA, graphic design) has been living and working in San Francisco while attending California College of the Arts (CCA). Francesi is currently an associate creative director of B’stro, a creative agency focusing on quality design, speed of execution and strong working relationships between their agency and its clientele. Francesi recently participated in an exhibit at the California Academy of Sciences (CAS), a world-class museum.

Each Thursday, CAS presents an exhibit titled Nightlife. Open to the public, the Thursday night event has become hugely successful, drawing an eclectic over-21 crowd. Nightlife is known to present energetic and imaginative displays featuring multi-media designs and interactive experiences. Recently students from CCA were invited to participate in an exhibit at CAS focusing on the concept of metamorphosis.

Francesi, along with two cohorts from CCA’s MFA design program designed and built a life-sized inflatable elephant that became the centerpiece for other interactive installations in the museum’s African Hall. Francesi also created a game featuring animal riddles. Guests were encouraged to hold the riddles they were given under a black light to reveal the answer. The event was a huge success, receiving coverage in the Huffington Post. For more information on Francesi, the California Academy of Science or California College of the Arts visit

Antone’s Winning Landscape

The work of Mikhael Antone, assistant professor of imaging and photography, is featured in an exhibit entitled Mainland at Kiernan Gallery from January 2 - February 1, 2014. Based in Lexington, West Virginia, Kiernan Gallery is displaying the juried landscape photographs in-house and online. They are featuring the work of 25 photographers in the gallery space and another 34 in the online gallery. The works were adjudicated by Stella Kramer, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photo editor who has worked at The New York Times, People, Sports Illustrated, Newsweek, Entertainment Weekly and other top magazines.

Antone relates to landscape as having a sense of place. “This show is about landscapes,” said Antone. “I have found myself seeing the landscape in a different way and when I went back to my home town, I was seeing it in a totally different light. The description of landscape on the Kiernan Gallery’s call for entries (for this exhibit) was different than the way most people talk about landscapes. When I read it I immediately thought of my recent work.”

For Mainland, Kiernan Gallery looked for photographs that examined a wide variety of climate, topography, and development on our planet. The gallery describes the genre of landscape photography as being “as varied as the earth itself…From mountains to coastlines, desert to tundra, our relationship with the land is complex and personal.”

In addition to her work at IPFW, Antone is a filmmaker and visual artist. Born and raised in Rhode Island she finds her work opening in a new direction, as she sees familiar landscapes in a new way.

To learn more about Mainland or the Kiernan Gallery, visit To learn more about the work of Mikhael Antone, visit

Film Premiere at Cinema Center


After more than two years of work, Cerulean is set to premiere at the Fort Wayne Cinema Center on Friday, August 9 at 8:15 p.m. Visual Communication and Design Visiting Instructor Allen Etter and his students have lived with Cerulean as their constant companion throughout the lengthy directing, filming and editing process and they are excited for the region to see the results of their hard work and diligence.

Cerulean, a student driven independent film about a group of people stranded on an increasingly hostile world, is set far off in the future. When a power struggle erupts between the five, violence and death soon follow. Unbeknownst to them, a sixth individual is on the planet, keeping close watch on their actions.

The students filmed on location on the IPFW campus, Franke Park in Fort Wayne, Bluffton, Indiana and Ireland. They also were responsible for acting, camera work, computer graphic effects, stunt coordination, color balancing, soundtrack and second unit directing. IPFW students and alumni who performed in the project were Maggie Dye, Josh Adams, Luke Hathaway, James Baker, Debbie Ngo and Allegra White. A complete list of the crew is in their web site. They will be entering the film in a number of national film festivals including the Buffalo Niagara Film Festival, which features films, screenplays and music videos.

VCD Hits a Home Run

three rivers logo

In April, students from IPFW Visual Communication and Design (VCD) won $1,000 for their department by designing and presenting their campaign for a new logo and promotional materials for the Three Rivers Festival (TRF) at the downtown Allen County Library. Faculty advisor and continuing lecturer John Motz helped the VCD students prepare for the design competition that included teams from the University of Saint Francis, Indiana Tech and Ivy Tech. “Through strong research, excellent design and a professional-quality presentation by the students we won the competition and secured the $1,000 prize,” explained Motz.

The PITCH, an event devised and sponsored by the American Advertising Federation of Fort Wayne (Fort Wayne AdFed), was a competition for area university graphic design students to create a marketing plan, new artwork and communication tools for the Fort Wayne Three Rivers Festival 2013. Students had to pitch their concepts to local ad agency executives and Jack Hammer, executive director of TRF, in an attempt to win the prize money.

The PITCH was designed to provide an opportunity for university students to work with actual clients in the community, helping them enhance essential skills to take with them into their future careers. Fort Wayne AdFed members who organized this event included Megan Tiffany (’10), a VCD alumna and email designer with Vera Bradley, and Michael Limmer, vice president of marketing, Fort Wayne TinCaps. The event was such a great success they already are making plans for next year. ”I was blown away by the local talent from our students and their sheer enthusiasm in their presentations,” explained Tiffany. “All schools talked about ‘next year’ and how great the experience was.”

Fort Wayne AdFed directors already have begun planning for next year's PITCH competition and plan to prepare the students for another great experience. To learn more about Fort Wayne AdFed visit

A Visceral Interpretation of Space Gregor Roth

In May, Visual Communication and Design (VCD) alum Gregor Roth (’11) received his M.F.A. in Studio Arts from Maine College of Art (MECA) in Portland, Maine. The 2013 M.F.A. Thesis Exhibition of the graduates’ work is on display at the Institute of Contemporary Art at MECA from May 14 through June 12. Roth has served as adjunct faculty in VCD while working on his advanced degree. MECA offers a low-residency M.F.A. in Studio Art, among the first of its kind in the nation.

Roth’s project abstract explains his view that typically art viewership is a static process where one stands in front of the image, gazing and studying, never merging in a real and natural manner with the artwork, rarely making more than a short-term emotional connection. In Roth’s site-specific thesis installation, string and yarn act as line and are used to draw in space to construct the illusion of structure. Roth asks the viewer to engage in a more intuitive and visceral interpretation of space by forming a third environment, encouraging the viewer to merge physically and emotionally in the work, altering his perceptions of space and time. Roth’s work has been well-received and contemporary performance groups are interested in exploring more about his visceral interpretation of space.

Petrovsky Hits the Big Time
Petrovsky is a character created by Andres Montenegro.

Petrovsky Hits the Big Time

The Little Quest of Petrovsky, an animated short by Andres Montenegro, has been accepted to compete in the International Animation Film Market’s Annecy International Film Festival in Annecy, France, June 10-15, 2013. The film will be competing in the animated short film category and Montenegro, IPFW assistant professor of modeling and animation in the Department of Visual Communication and Design, has been selected for a residency award.

Created in 1960, the competition categories include short films, long films, student films and films made for television, advertising and the internet. Festival partners include Adobe, Arte France and Walt Disney Studios. The festival’s creative focus is an incubator for projects and an ideal forum for animation professionals and the talents of tomorrow.

“Annecy is a uniquely important event in our annual calendar, because it combines the world's leading animation festival with a market dedicated to animation,” explains Disney, a festival partner, on Annecy’s web site. “Similarly, the creative focus provides an important intersection between art and commerce in which a diverse cross-section of international talent can take their first shot at pitching new ideas to the market.”

Montenegro has based his cinematic narrative on the paintings of French painter and stage designer Balthasar Klossowski de Rola (Balthus), who is noted for his carefully constructed figures. Montenegro’s central character, Petrovsky, is a lonely character concerned about his future and worried about how to navigate the emotional landscape of middle age. Alone and frustrated, Petrovsky recently has been dismissed from the WWII Asia-South Pacific war. As he frets over his future, Petrovsky finds a mysterious map containing clues inviting him to meet a mysterious lady in the middle of nowhere. Petrovsky, worried that this will be one more of his usual disappointments, discovers a hopeful turn of events.

Over the past 25 years the Annecy International Film Festival has established itself as a leading event in the industry. Films shown at the festival are made available on the festival website and therefore benefit from such high visibility.

VCD Receives Silver and Gold!VCD awards

Eight students from the IPFW Department of Visual Communication and Design (VCD) received ADDY Awards during the annual American Advertising Federation of Fort Wayne’s 2013 recognition gala titled, “You’re My Type.” This year’s event was held in the Auer Performance Hall in the Rhinehart Music Center at IPFW on Saturday, February 16, at 8:00 p.m. The American Advertising Federation of Fort Wayne is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting and improving the advertising industry. Each year scores of outstanding designers, agencies and student designers are recognized with ADDY Awards, acknowledging those whose skills and talents help cultivate a better understanding of the economic and social values of advertising for all people. 2013 VCD student winners include:

  • Uzoma Albert, Student Gold Addy, Category: Business-to Consumer Campaign
  • Kezia D’Souza (class of ’12), Student Silver Addy, Category: Elements of Advertising-Visual Illustration
  • James Farr III, Student Silver Addy, Category: Direct Marketing
  • Isaac Fingerle, Student Gold Addy, Category: Business-to Consumer Campaign
  • John Ilang-Ilang, Student Gold Addy, Category: Non-Traditional Advertising Campaign
  • Simone LeClear, Student Gold Addy, Category: Collateral Material/ Poster
  • Emma McCarron (Class of ’12), Student Gold Addy, Category: Business-to Consumer Campaign and Student Silver Addy, Category: Promotion-Packaging
  • Curtis Waters, Student Gold Addy, Category: Business-to Consumer Campaign

Swikar photo of swan

Patel Lauded by Wall Street Journal

VCD graduate and current associate faculty Swikar Patel was celebrated as having one of the Best Photographs of the Year 2012 by the Wall Street Jourrnal (WSJ). The image of the swan was captured on a Fort Wayne creek in early October. The WSJ editors pick the best photos of the year organized by category, date and location. These photos represent the key moments and defining images of the year.

Technology Propels Learning

Mobile technology has opened the fields of music, art and medicine in ways no one could have predicted. Samantha Birk, associate director for instructional technology in the Center for the Enhancement of Learning and Teaching (CELT) believes there is more technology can do for us. “Students are bringing these mobile technologies into the classroom everyday,” said Birk, “And it makes sense that the professors have experience as to use the technologies in meaningful ways.”

Rising from a series of  interdepartmental conversations in 2010 on the use of technology in the classroom, former Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs William McKinney issued a call for proposals to professors across the campus. McKinney asked them to suggest ways that mobile devices might be used to transform teaching, learning and/or research.

“The professors are the keepers of the curriculum,” said Birk. “They are looking at course goals, objectives, assignments, underlying skill sets, acquisition of knowledge, critical thinking skills and collaboration. They also are looking at apps that can help them combine all of these things and putting them in combinations that will guide students in using them for those purposes.”   

After a close look at the mobile technology available, it was decided that the iPad was the most mature machine in the field of mobile devices. Funding was secured through an internal grant from IPFW’s Office of Research, Engagement and Sponsored Programs to purchase a number of iPads and the iPad Project was initiated.

Birk oversees project #MobileEDU, affectionately known as the iPad Project, which began in the fall of 2011. Faculty from all disciplines were invited to apply to become part of the iPad Project and the response was extremely positive. The first cohort of participants in the iPad Project included 60 professors from across the campus. As the cohort began sharing ideas and information, professors very quickly began to ask whether their students could benefit by having an iPad to use in the classroom and iPad in the Classroom was launched. Five professors were recommended to teach classes using the iPad in class for the fall of 2012 and five were chosen for the spring of 2013. 

The five professors chosen to teach with the iPad for fall 2012 were Assistant Professor Kirsten Ataoguz, art history; Continuing Lecturer Joyce Lazier, philosophy; Assistant Professor Abe Schwab, philosophy; Associate Professor Alice Merz, education, and Adjunct Faculty Samantha Birk, MCET and interior design.     

Students are encouraged to enroll in one of the exciting upcoming iPad classes for spring 2013. The university will provide an iPad to those students enrolled in these classes.  The iPad must be returned at the end of the semester. The five classes that will be part of iPad in the Classroom for spring are:

  • Psychology PSY-100, taught by Professor Judith Blakemore
  • II Advanced Sculpture FINA-P334,  taught by Professor Dana Goodman
  • Intro to Philosophy PHIL-110, taught by Continuing Lecturer Joyce Lazier
  • Intro to Organic Chemistry 241, taught by Professor Donald Linn
  • Fundamentals of Horticulture HORT 101, taught by Assistant Professor Jordan Marshall

Several other classes for incoming freshmen will require enrolled students to purchase an iPad to use in class. These include classes in English 131 and 233, and Communications 114.

To learn more about a class included in the iPad Project.