Department of Art and Art History News

Design undergraduate travels to California as Disney Imagineering finalist, garners second place

Mon. February 22, 2016

four people pose with arms spread with mickey mouse
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Design junior Whitney Chen spent a fairy-tale week in Glendale, California at the Walt Disney Imagineering headquarters in January.

“I knew that this was an amazing opportunity to test myself as a visual maker and create wilder projects outside of class,” said Whitney Chen, “And because I am a Disney fanatic, I was so excited to design something that was Disney related.”

The team from The University of Texas at Austin included Design junior Whitney Chen, Cockrell School of Engineering senior Kevin Graham, Kevin Chen (B.S Mechanical Engineering, 2015), and Amy Woon (B.S. Mechanical Engineering, 2015). They received second place at the 25th Imaginations Design Competition, put on annually by Walt Disney Imagineering, and competed against six teams from eight other universities.

“Everything I did was a part of a collaborative effort, but because I study graphic design and user-centered design, I focused on the visual elements of Hueroic,” said Whitney Chen.

This year’s challenge was to design a traveling experience that could tour small towns across the U.S. for families who do not have the opportunity to travel to a Disney park. This temporary venue would operate in each community for two to three days, should take no more than a day to set up and break down, and embodies the kind of family entertainment that Walt Disney envisioned when he first build Disneyland.

four people in suits pose in design studio
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The team’s concept, Hueroic, takes guests on a journey to explore the wonder and beauty of art and imagination. Thrust into a black and white world where colors have never existed, guests are sent on a race against time to rescue a kingdom and unlock the major of color, light and inspiration.

“Mixing my ideation sketching skills and love for drawing, I designed the attraction's environments, considering the interactions between guests and the spaces around them,” said Whitney Chen. “I also helped my team create an identity for Hueroic, making a physical mock-up of our attraction, graphic posters, products, and logo.”

Throughout the competition, each team was advised by a group of mentors.

“Because our mentors were once finalists themselves, they were able to step into our shoes and relate to our design thinking,” said Whitney Chen. “Even though each team member and our mentors offered different specialties, our decisions were always influenced by the heart and purpose of Hueroic. I appreciated how our mentors would challenge us with ‘What if…’ questions, which led us to revise, expand, and make multiple iterations together as a team.”

Finalists present their projects to a panel of Imagineering judges which can open opportunities for internships at Disney Imagineering for students. Some eventually become full-time Imagineers.

“I was so entranced by the signage and graphic artwork at Disneyland that I will be going back because my first visit was not enough,” Whitney Chen said. “I want to ride all of the rides and try all of the food! This experience magnified my goals. As I move through my undergraduate studies, I will continue to dream bigger—theme park sized.”

Eddie Chambers presents Nigeria/Yoruba: Some History at the Fine Arts Library

Fri. February 19, 2016

books in a glass display case
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Eddie Chambers organized Nigeria/Yoruba: Some History at the Fine Arts Library. This display is in celebration of The University of Texas at Austin’s annual Yoruba Day, hosted during the course of this spring by the John L. Warfield Center for African & African American Studies.

John L. Warfield Center presents exhibition curated by Phillip Townsend

Wed. February 17, 2016

black and white photograph of alter with palm tree in background
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The John L. Warfield Center for African & African American Studies presents an exhibition curated by Phillip A. Townsend (M.A. candidate in Art History). The exhibition, Light and Life: St. Louis Cemetery No.1 through the Lens of John Pinderhughes, will be on view through May 2016.

Michael Smith performance, screening, and discussion at Yale Union

Wed. February 17, 2016

man in suit presses lips together

Michael Smith performs at Yale Union on March 4, 2016. A screening and discussion will be held the following day.