Exhibit showcases consumerism

By Megan Kelly

“Branded and On Display,” an exhibit that presents art influenced by America’s consumerism, will be holding a competition tonight at 7 p.m. at the Krannert Art Museum, 500 E. Peabody Dr. in Champaign. The competition consists of students in design and advertising who created products and advertisements inspired by the exhibit.

“Branded and On Display” opened at the museum Jan. 26 and will close Sunday.

“It’s an exhibition of contemporary art from across the media and the world commenting on the global commercial culture in which we all live and participate, whether knowingly or unknowingly,” said Judith Hoos Fox, the visiting curator at the art museum.

The exhibit features work by over 20 artists who use many different mediums including painting, sculpture, photography and video. Each artist connects America’s obsession with consumerism into his or her work, according to the museum’s Web site.

“Part of what my work intended to do is to suggest a critical look at my own consuming habits and to adopt a critical relationship with brands as an identity,” said Lauretta Hogin, one of the artists in the show and also the associate professor and chair of the University’s painting and sculpture program.

Fox came up with the idea of having a student competition that would combine industrial design with advertising last semester. The competition was advertised to students in both majors by Anne Sautman, the Krannert Art Museum’s director of education. Interested design students enrolled in a design class where they formed groups and created their products as a class project. Advertising students volunteered to participate in the competition and picked their favorite product created by the design students, then made two advertisements for their choice. They also chose two magazines where they would feature their advertisements.

Among the six products design students invented is a new, “enhanced” Starbucks coffee, which adds drugs such as Ritalin or Viagra to the beverage.

“I wanted the viewers to realize what kind of world we live in, when millions of people consume multiple cups of coffee a day usually packed with an addictive drug (caffeine),” said Brad Robinson, a member of the Starbucks Enhance design team and sophomore in FAA. “I just want them to make a decision on if they believe it is an acceptable or unacceptable thing.”

The Starbucks Enhance advertisements reflect a “sarcastic tone of voice,” said Jessica Sander, advertising team member and senior in communications. The team created the advertisement slogans, “Keeps you coming back for more,” for Fortune magazine and “Feelings are for losers,” for Rolling Stone magazine.

“We’re not seriously trying to promote drugs with Starbucks, but for a concept it was fun to play around with and not fall into the gimmicky type of advertising that we unfortunately see all the time,” said Aris Pierce, another advertising team member and senior in communications.

The judges, who include Kathleen Harleman, director of the Krannert Art Museum, David Weightman, director of the school of art and design and Peter Sheldon, a lecturer in Advertising, conducted an initial view of the exhibit Wednesday and chose their three favorites in each category.

The finalists will give a public presentation on their work tonight at 7 p.m. The judges will assess each project and decide on a winner for both the design and advertising categories. The first place prize is $500 and the second prize is a signed copy of the exhibition catalog.