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Design


EXPO Profile: Johanna Fitzgibbon

EXPO Profile: Johanna Fitzgibbon

: Johanna Fitzgibbon & work.. Photo by Mark Bocek.

EXPO Profile: Johanna Fitzgibbon

: Courtesy Cornish College of the Arts.

EXPO Profile: Johanna Fitzgibbon

: Johanna Fitzgibbon & work.. Photo by Mark Bocek.

EXPO Profile: Johanna Fitzgibbon

: Johanna Fitzgibbon & work.. Photo by Mark Bocek.

EXPO Profile: Johanna Fitzgibbon

: Johanna Fitzgibbon & work.. Photo by Mark Bocek.

EXPO Profile: Johanna Fitzgibbon

: Photos within photos, videos within videos …. Photo by Mark Bocek.

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Johanna Fitzgibbon (DE ‘13) has undertaken an ambitious interactive project to help us understand our interactions with one another; you can see it at EXPO 13.

How many peoples’ eyes did you avoid today? How many lives did you escape having to intersect by quickening your pace or pasting on an “I’m already out of here” smile? The lady with the odd coif at the Walgreen’s checkout, the cabby with the heavily lined face, the guy with big hat and the sign hitting up cars on the 99 ramp for change, the old lady in the orange coat with the little dog: it’s an endless list. Johanna Fitzgibbon, senior in design at Cornish, thinks you’re missing golden opportunities.

Fitzgibbon’s B.F.A. project, which can be seen at Cornish’s EXPO 13 starting May 10, is about the people we usually fail to see, and much more than that, it’s about us, the people who are failing to look. “My BFA is focused on getting people to look up from their everyday lives and interact with everyone around them,” says Fitzgibbon. “And bringing that interaction to a second step of just not saying to a barista ‘Hey, thanks for my coffee,’ but ‘Hey, how are you doing today?’ And actually caring.”

Johanna started by investing a lot of her time in finding people to feature and then living her subjects’ lives with them. “I’ve created a series of vignettes of real people,” says Fitzgibbon. “I’ve filmed them from when they woke up to when they went to sleep just doing their everyday tasks.” Fitzgibbon asked all the people she could think of for subjects. After choosing several for their diversity, she followed them day and night ’til they let down their guard. Then she asked a fixed set of questions to all the people in the vignettes.

But creating the films was only the first step, as large a task as that was. Fitzgibbon will be creating a whole installation designed to involve the viewer. “The whole project is put into this interactive deal where you can go up and you can pick whose life you want to learn about.” she says. After EXPO 13 her interactive piece will be available to viewers online. http://wearelookingup.com/ And the work will be ongoing. “This is something I’ll want to continue as a personal side project,” Johanna says.

Fitzgibbon says her B.F.A. project is not the end of interpersonal chasms, but the beginning of understanding. “It’s not a “problem solver,” this project,” she says, “it’s a “seed planter.” It’s an experience where you go and you’re going to experience my B.F.A. project, and you’re going to have the opportunity to view peoples’ lives and listen to answers to the same set of questions that I asked all of them to answer. Then you’re going to think in your head and have the opportunity to ponder the same questions. So the project is about planting that initial seed of awareness.”

A project like Fitzgibbon’s has to go an intensive development period, and her classes at Cornish helped do this. “I went through weeks and weeks of “mind mapping,” which is this exercise we do to “free write” but in a structured way. It’s really cool stuff. We got to do whatever we wanted, but we needed to figure out what it was we wanted.”

Johanna’s work is impressive and she has had a couple of job nibbles already, from sources as diverse as a design firm in Holland and the TV show Grimm, which films in Portland.

EXPO 13: BFA Exhibition, May 10 – May 25, 2013, 5:00 pm on Cornish campus, Visual Arts Center.

EXPO 13 builds upon the annual BFA Exhibition, highlighting the depth and range of our students’ creative inquiry and expression at Cornish College of the Arts. The Art and Design shows serve as the keystone to an expanded schedule of events, including dialogue, performances, and artistic interventions. EXPO 13 celebrates the achievements of Cornish’s graduating seniors by acknowledging their contributions as professional artists and designers. Cornish is proud of their determination, hard word, and appetite for experimentation, as they turn their ambitions from school towards society. Congratulations to the class of 2013.


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