By Steven Krolak
(NEW ALBANY, Ind.)—A poster by Kok Cheow Yeoh, assistant professor of fine arts and graphic design area coordinator, has been accepted as a finalist at the Beijing Design Week in Beijing, China.
The poster was one of only 272 finalists chosen for exhibition from among more than 1,200 submissions from around the world in a juried competition. It will be on display at the Capital Normal University Academy of Fine Arts art gallery in Beijing through October 5.
Yeoh’s work, “Filial,” tackles the enduring theme of obligation and loyalty within the family, in a time of social change in China.
“I wish to convey that filial piety, an important tenet in Confucianism, requires active and reciprocal participation to achieve balance in our society,” Yeoh said.
Aesthetically, the poster itself is a dialogue between old and new. As Yeoh explained, it incorporates the Chinese character for filial (xiao) which is made up of the character for child (zi) holding up the character for an aged parent (lao). But the “zi” is missing, replaced with the English word “filial” in white, a color chosen both as a symbol of purity and as a visual void, to make the point of a vanishing sense of responsibility. The background is formed of overlapping juxtapositions of mirror images of a human face, representing the conflict between inner and outer selves, and between filial and social responsibility.
“My poster seeks to project the interactions between ink painting and design as the collision of concept and methods in which ink painting, as a form of painting, is lifted from its cultural and spiritual perspectives into a new form of expression,” Yeoh said.
Bejing Design Week was begun in 2009 and is now considered the most important gathering in Asia for Chinese and international designers, institutions and organizations. It draws more than 2,000 artists and industry specialists, as well as more than five million visitors. It is co-hosted by the Ministry of Culture of the People’s Republic of China and the Beijing Municipal Government.
Beijing is a member of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network for design, committed to expanding and integrating this aspect of culture into strategic planning and civil life. With 119 design colleges and more than a quarter of a million people working in this sector, the city is an international design powerhouse. To be recognized in such a context is a great honor for Yeoh, and also a boost for the self-awareness of design students at IU Southeast.
“Unlike artists who get to sign their work, graphic designers produce communication pieces that usually serve the interests of commerce as well as other, social-based initiatives such as education, culture or politics,” Yeoh said. “However, this recognition is an example that graphic design–which is essentially a balance between art and the practice of projecting ideas and experiences with visual and textual context—is also a conduit for graphic designers as visual-based social commentators.”
Homepage photo: Dr. Kok Cheow Yeoh