14 January 2009

VCUQatar Faculty Driven by Design

Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar’s Assistant Professor and Graphic Designer, Sherry Blankenship, was honored with an Award of Excellence for Print at the 38th Annual University and College Designers Association (UCDA) conference held in Savannah, Georgia.

Blankenship submitted a publication which was judged amongst 1,600 other printed work entries including brochures, posters, photographs and magazine editorials. 193 entries received awards in this category.

Based out of Smyrna, Tennessee, the UCDA exists to promote excellence in visual communications for educational institutions. It has grown to become a well-known organization in the design field and boasts over 1,000 members involved professionally and educationally with visual communications. The 2008 show was on display between October 4-7 in Savannah and awards were given out with certificates being mailed to winners after the conference.

Blankenship's award-winning entry titled ‘Design at the Crossroads: the Intersection of Change and the Future’ was used as the publication for VCUQatar’s 2008 annual Tasmeem Doha International Design Conference.  The publication described the conference and carried extracts of the event as well as photographs and biographies of speakers and sponsors. The motif was also used on scarves and ties as well as on the signage and environmental graphics for the conference.

“I used the theme of crossroads as a departure point,” said Blankenship, when talking about the publication. “We have a medallion that we use each year in conjunction with the logotype. Every year I decide on a new palette of colors usually derived from the arts of the Middle East. These colors were found on tiles and pottery. They also suggest the oceans and the Qatari national colors. The medallion then transmuted into a compass that is used for navigation”. Blankenship also worked with the information she had on each speaker, “and tried to reflect their personality, topic or discipline. Therefore, there was an underlying system to create order but a lot of variety - just as the conference has a schedule but it allows for flexibility,” she added.

Recognizing her contributions, Dr. Charles Bleick, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs noted, “It gives me great pleasure to congratulate Sherry Blankenship on winning this award. The commitment of our faculty and staff and their passion in educating the young men and women of Qatar are the driving force behind VCUQatar’s success over the last ten years.  VCUQatar is very proud to have Sherry on board and winning this award for the second consecutive year. This is an inspiration for us all.”

“I was particularly pleased to win the award for this entry although it involved so much time and energy because of the large faculty committee who were great fun to work with,” remarked Blankenship, who has won many design awards including another UCDA award in 2007 for one of The Gallery catalogs.

Blankenship has a Master’s in design from North Carolina State University. She has been a designer at VCUQatar for over four years now and has also taught graphic design for more than twelve. Before coming to Doha, she taught in Lebanon and prior to that, in New Zealand. She has also conducted courses and workshops in India, Turkey and Zimbabwe. She currently lives with her grandson in Qatar while the rest of her family resides in the United States.

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