Across the Pacific Ocean, more than 7,000 miles from home, Boise State art professor John Francis is on the clock. He is on sabbatical in Nagoya, Japan, studying the cultural and philosophical issues that shape and make Japanese graphic design unique. His research involves visiting galleries and museums, observing graphic design classrooms at Nagoya Zokei University (NZU) and interviewing native designers and artists.
When Francis returns to Boise State’s College of Arts and Sciences, he plans to create work that will reflect the fruits of his research. While in Japan, he is helping build an academic bridge between two countries and vastly different cultures.
First there was the exhibition he arranged at NZU Sept. 17-25. The work was by Boise State art students and included examples of painting, printmaking, photography, illustration and graphic design. Francis said the exhibition was preliminary to “Transit at NZU,” a program that will bring 10 Japanese students to Boise State next March to collaborate with art students and create a joint campus exhibition. Boise State assistant professor of art Dan Scott will teach the exhibition class.
Francis also was asked by NZU to make a presentation as part of its “Super Lecture” program. Called “Graphic Design Education in the United States,” his presentation profiled graphic design programs in American universities and art schools and covered the history of graphic design education in the U.S. In addition, Francis discussed his own design education pedagogy, using student work to illustrate.