Students unleash animal camouflage

AMELIA DUAX, Staff Writer

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Animal camouflage is on full display at the Hartman Reserve Nature Center, thanks to the work of UNI graphic design students. Their work is inspired by the artist Anne Lemanski.

The idea for the show began with Roy Behrens, a graphic design professor at UNI. Behrens maintains a blog that is focused on camouflage. He was inspired by Lemanski’s series of animal works and decided to get in touch with her to collaborate.

“I didn’t know about Anne Lemanski until about a year and a half ago. So, one of the things I try to do is to locate current artists who are experimenting with camouflage and I happened to run across Lemanski’s work,” Behrens said. “I loved it; she’s using packaging patterns and graphic design patterns, so I did a little blog about her work.”

As Behrens explored Lemanski’s work, he thought that students in his graphic design class would be able to relate to her art. Around the same time, the Hartman Reserve Nature Center asked Behrens to give a talk about animal camouflage.

“I thought it would be so great to put all the elements together; to do a class project that was also contributive to the community,” Behrens said. “I am just floored by the pieces the students made. There are things in there that just couldn’t be any better.”

Behrens said that the student exhibit received several compliments from naturalists who saw the show.

“It makes me kind of sad that I’m retiring,” Behrens said. “This is probably what I enjoy most about teaching — to see the fantastic things that students produce.”

Lemanski, whose animal artwork series can be found on her website, was impressed with the works that Behrens’ students have created.

“Roy included my work on his camouflage blog a couple years ago and wrote a bit about camouflage as well, which I love,” Lemanski said. “He contacted me about doing the project with his class a month ago and I was all for it. I was interested in doing it because my first interest was graphic design.”

She received a few photos of the student artwork and said she was impressed with what they came up with.

“It’s always interesting to see what people will do with your images, and I look forward to seeing the other pieces,” Lemanski said. “I won’t be able to come see the exhibit, but I am in love with the photos I’ve seen so far.”

Lemanski said she would be interested in similar collaborations in the future. Currently, she is working on a life-sized tiger and wants to continue incorporating animals into her work.

The exhibit opened to the public on Thursday, Nov. 1 and will be open to the public until the end of December.

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