This is a longer version of the interviews with visual arts fellows Dan Byers and Andria Hickey, and design fellows Mylinh Trieu Nguyen and Noa Segal,
from a story in the July/August issue of Walker magazine.
For nearly three decades, the Walker has been recruiting recent graduates and junior professionals to work as fellows in its design and visual arts departments. As full-time, full-fledged staff, fellows experience the entire scope of graphic design and curatorial work in a museum, while bringing with them fresh energy and new ideas. A number of Walker fellows have also gone on to prominent positions at museums and design firms around the world. As their time here draws to a close, the 2008-2009 group talks about what brought them here, what they’ve experienced, and what’s in store as they move on.
= Noa Segal =
Before coming to the Walker… Graphic design seemed to me to be a practice that allows an intellectual engagement with content and form, and yet exists on a very visual and practical level. My educational path went through music and photography, but I felt that my interest in images and text was not coming to its full expression. The Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam, where I completed my studies, was a great school that encouraged students to develop an ability to analyze the given or self-initiated content, and from that to bring into their design a full range of interests and sources of inspiration.
Coming here was . . . Almost like starting all over, thinking about and practicing design in ways that I hadn’t before. Working in this kind of a multidisciplinary place really had an affect on me—collaborating with people working in other disciplines made me reconsider and redefine, repeatedly, my profession and my position within it. I realized that it is fascinating looking back on the phases of the different projects i worked on (i.e proofs) at the walker and be able to see the change and the development of my ability to work with images and text, react to the people i collaborate with and design towards shaping each piece to the point where it delivered their content successfully and reflected my ideas about it.
(fig.1 – 7, different stages of work; fig.8.-9, the final piece: working on film flayer for Queer Takes: weekend of screening at the Walker June 23-26)
Some of my favorite moments were . . . Feeling stuck, tired, uninspired—but being able to leave my desk and go inside the galleries, down to our amazing library, or to the cinema or the theater. Realizing that all of this amazing art is as close to me as my bed is to my shower—and it’s available to me every second of the day! Also, participating in discussions with the design staff that are deeply engaged, hearing how and what this studio would like to do in the future—great inspiring and educational moments that for sure I will try to carry on in my practice.
A belief i’ve developed . . . Is that design means always challenging yourself and trying new things, and that you can’t design without keeping a close relationship to the world surrounding us—culture, politics, nature, and so on.
= Mylinh Trieu Nguyen =
Design first sparked my interest when … I was studying in my dorm at UCLA and heard a student next door animating a cartoon airplane to the words of a John Denver song. It wasn’t what she was making, but more the idea of realizing it that captivated me. She was taking this vague idea in her head and making it into a tangible thing in the world. I wanted that ability.
I wanted to become a walker fellow because … I was questioning the importance of what I was producing. I expanded my practice into the contemporary art world, collaborating with friend and artist David Horvitz as ASDF. This in turn made me more encouraged about my role as a graphic designer, and led me to apply for the fellowship.
My high points and low points here involved … Being assigned my first big project. This daunting feeling overwhelmed me; it was nothing less than that. But through all of the trial and error, working with Andrew Blauvelt and spending countless evenings in the studio (crying), the Walker’s annual report is one of the most gratifying pieces I’ve made. Moving to Minneapolis itself was a test of emotional endurance. The change in geography and social dynamics made it hard at first, and often lonely. But you really develop strong relationships with the other fellows and the people you work with.
Moving on from the walker, i will be … attending Yale’s MFA program in graphic design, developing and expanding my current interests, garnering new ones, and, I hope, cultivating a clear and cohesive methodology. I also want to continue producing work under ASDF, travel, and experience life outside the realm of “work.”