A&E » Art

If you've got the Munny, I've got the time

Illo Minn: Volume Two at the College of Visual Arts in St. Paul highlights the cities’ best illustrators by having them design their own Munny dolls.
PHOTO COURTESY ANDY POWELL
February 24, 2010

WHAT: Illo.Minn: Volume Two
WHEN: Illustrator Panel Discussion Thursday 6 p.m. - 7:30 p.m., exhibit showing until March 6
WHERE: College of Visual Arts, 173 Western Ave. N.

The word illustration comes from the verb “to illuminate,” as its purpose is to illuminate the idea or written work it accompanies. Illo.Minn: Volume Two, an illustration exhibit through the College of Visual Arts in St. Paul, will be shedding light on our cities’ best local illustrators until early March.
The biennial affair features the work of 28 talented and commercially active illustrators who reside in the Twin Cities. Each of these artists displays both a printed illustration of original work and a “munny” dolI. The munny-making process is do-it-yourself, turning a blank, white cartoon-like creature into artwork, mostly by painting it, but occasionally by carving and building on it with clay.
Assistant Illustration Department Coordinator at CVA and exhibiting artist James O’Brien got creative with his munny, adorning it with sequins applied with straight pins rather than painting it. The effect looks like a jewel-studded male companion to Tweety Bird, which is as amusing as it is endearing. One artist actually made the munny into Tweety Bird.
O’Brien’s printed illustration is one that accompanied a short story called “Unknown Quantities: New Hires Can Make Poor Performers Look Like Prizes” in Plan Sponsor Magazine. The story featured businesses with reservations about hiring new people for fear of the unknown. O’Brien’s illustrations are of a potential employee viewed completely from behind, so as to add to the mystery of the hire.
A myriad of hip local artists contributed to the collection. You might recognize Andres Guzman’s work on posters for Rhymesayers’ “Hope for Haiti” benefit and on Brother Ali T-shirts. Bryan Ische’s stylings can be seen on fliers reminding MCAD students of the financial aid due date as well as in his rich editorial illustrations. Also featured is Adam Turman, who gained local acclaim for his bike prints this year.
Illustration as an art form oftentimes gets thrown in the back seat to make room for other fine arts, but with our culture’s growing interest in such illustration-friendly hobbies as computer games and comics, illustration has never been stronger. O’Brien said he feels that the distinction between illustration and the fine arts lies simply in their intended messages.
“When I talk to my students about the difference between their fine arts classes and their illustration classes I tell them that in illustration, your message must be clear. In fine arts, the message can be unclear because it is intended for a different audience,” O’Brien said.
In the case of Illo.Minn the message is very clear: there is a wealth of illustrative talent in the Twin Cities.

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