By KIRBY MCMAHON
For the first time in Mount Mary College’s history, four departments within the Art and Design Division are collaborating with an end-of-year showcase of student work. Fashion, fine arts, graphic design and interior design are uniting for this event under one brand, CREO.
CREO has two major components. The first is a free gallery show where fine arts, graphic design and interior design students showcase their best creations. The second is the annual fashion show, which features student-created apparel and collections. The fashion show will occur three different times: 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m., and 8 p.m. Ticket prices vary based on show times.
The CREO concept was devised early last year after Mount Mary’s off-campus fashion show was held at the Marcus Performing Arts Center. Fine arts, graphic design and interior design departments combined their shows for the first time last year in Helfaer Hall and the Marian Art Gallery, which proved to be too small for the event.
The positive buzz circulating after the sold-out fashion show led faculty and administration to an entirely new agenda. Through this buzz, the basic concept of CREO was born.
“CREO will build off the established visibility of the annual fashion show to deliver a comprehensive experience that also showcases graphic design, interior design and fine arts students’ work,” said Susan Seiler, director of marketing and public relations.
The college’s administration supports the departments’ plan to join forces and shift to a combined off-campus event.
“External Relations provided logistical support for the department’s ideas. Each department had the option of joining the combined show or not,” Seiler said.
All participating department chairs have similar motivations for creating CREO, but the focus revolves around the unification of the departments in order to build a reputable artistic community within Mount Mary College.
“It’s an opportunity for collaboration and displaying the interconnectedness of the very different, yet similar areas,” Seiler said.
Nancy Lohmiller, graphic design chairperson, said the combined event will promote the artistic division as a whole.
“We’re all artists, so we’re starting the process of supporting the division in a more unified way,” Lohmiller said.
Aeran Park, fashion chairperson, agreed and said CREO takes the notion of the Mount Mary community a step further.
“All the art and design students take similar classes as freshmen and sophomores, but as they move on in their programs, they become segregated. Their reconnection in CREO will demonstrate how all the departments have similar foundations and present Mount Mary College as a creative community,” Park said.
Deb Heermans, fine arts chairperson, is excited about the creation of CREO and the involvement of her students.
“Another benefit of this is that it’s putting the fine arts into the mix. The fashion show was always fashion’s big event, but [this event] is showcasing that there are other departments in the division that are just as viable. By putting them all together, CREO is showcasing the entire division,” she said.
Park is happy to have the other departments join the off-campus event. She makes it clear that CREO does not revolve solely around the fashion shows.
“This year, we are more aware that it’s not just about the fashion department. Students are focusing on how they’re representing the college as a creative community. The fashion show is meant to support CREO. Students are learning the true meaning of collaboration,” Park said.
CREO continues to provide the benefits that were provided by the original department stores. Students in the show will gain real-world experience, showcase their best work and mingle with professionals in their respective fields.
CREO, Latin for “to create, to make and to produce,” was a concept created by 2-Story, a marketing company hired by Mount Mary to promote the event.
According to Seiler, 2-Story was chosen because it is a small, woman-owned company that understands the school’s mission.
“We chose 2-Story because we knew they weren’t going to completely take over. Instead, they worked with us to help us pull all the elements together in a way that conveys our desired message,” Seiler said.
The brand, CREO, will be a recurring name that stays the same throughout the years. Faculty hope that CREO will become a common association with Mount Mary and the artistic talents of its students.
“We are creating CREO as a brand. Everything CREO can be connected to Mount Mary College,” Park said.
The theme of this year’s show is Evoke. Each department developed a different Evoke slogan to embody their area and pieces of work. All of the department heads agreed that the slogans were produced solely by the students.
The theme Evoke was developed by the fashion show coordination class. This class has developed the theme for the past four fashion shows. According to Park, the students brainstorm conceptual themes that cover all of the designers’ works in one word.
Although the fashion students developed the Evoke theme, all ideas were run by the remaining three departments.
CREO will be held at the Hyatt Hotel in downtown Milwaukee. CREO executives hope that the off-campus location will provide a higher profile event to draw in more attendees.
“Many Interior Design and Architectural Professionals will be attending the gallery portion of CREO. I anticipate interviews to be occurring for my students,” said Leona Knobloch-Nelson, interior design design chairperson.
The event will be held on the atrium level. The fashion show will fill one half of the floor and the gallery show will be located on the other side. The reception for all the departments will be held in the atrium at the center.
“The Hyatt is in a convenient location and provides an efficient layout,” Seiler said.
Lohmiller is especially satisfied with the extended hours from noon until 10 p.m.
“A lot of people work during the day or have classes to attend, so the extended hours will allow for more people to stop by. I’m also hoping we get some traffic from the downtown lunch crowd,” Lohmiller said.
Faculty is optimistic when it comes to attendance. Each department has reached out to industries that have attended the individual shows in the past. Alumnae, internship facilities and other Mount Mary affiliates were notified through mailed and hand-delivered invitations.
Park stressed that even though the event is no longer being held at Mount Mary, the college is still being promoted through the event.
“Everything ties back to the college. Whenever you hear about CREO, you hear about Mount Mary College,” Park said.