Hi, I was a design student in the late 50s and early 60s and remember classes in the basement and under the north stairwell in the Allyn Building before the Design Department moved to the second floor of the newly built Morris Library. The department was divided into 2-D and 3-D (Product-Shelter Design) divisions. Although images of fellow students come foggily to mind I am able to recall only a few names (Howard Cotton, Ron Bishop who also played football at SIU, Claude Stern who actually built a Pease dome south of C’dale, I believe, Bob Sheridan who left design for art, somebody Grosvner ?, Woody somebody ?) Most were students in the visual design section. Lee
Lee Spalt
The Alton Boxboard trip The 2-dimensional classes, Elsa’s and Herb’s classes, took an all day field trip to the Alton Boxboard Company in Alton, Illinois. It was a long day. We saw the entire process starting with chipping wood, making paperboard, through designing packaging. I remember watching Herb lower his film movie camera on a string down into a huge vat filled with churning emulsified wood fiber to get that interesting image angle. The day became quite long. Some of us were becoming a bit antsy to get on the road home. The Company execs seemed to be interested in recruiting some designers and invited us to an evening banquet. Herb and Elsa huddled, then accepted the offer. A leisurely meal with much talking ensued. We were late starting our trip back to C’dale. I was drafted to drive one of the cars. Most of the occupants slept. I was eager to get home and put the petal to the metal. We exceeded the speed limit, perhaps doubled it – my memory is sometimes given to hyperbole. Everyone arrived intact to design another day.
Early design classes in Morris Library The department moved to Morris Library into makeshift rooms and cubicles separated by cardboard box walls and fiberboard panels. I recall the location being on the 2nd floor, but I noted that others have thought the 4th floor was the site. At the time of the initial move I believe the library had only two floors. The entire floor was an open warehouse-like space. The department had a portion of that space. Just outside the department’s space was a wire-enclosed, fenced off storage area filled with all sorts of surplus university property. We often clung to the fence and drooled over that collection of exotic stuff and its possible uses. Much of the space on that floor of the library remained unused. Occasionally the department commandeered some of that space. Herb was conducting a figure drawing exercise in the area outside the entrance to the department. His daughter, probably high school age, served as a model. Among his other instructions Herb encouraged students who had difficulty “understanding” the visual and spatial aspects of the model to “feel” the model in order to better appreciate the subject. Herb’s instructions were offered with a sober, serious face. What we were curious about and didn’t understand was the psychodynamics, if any, that were going on between the instructor and the model. We students remained at our drawing pads and did the best that we could with visual observation only. The department had a photography darkroom just inside the department’s entrance across the hallway from a small conference/waiting area leading to Harold Cohen ‘s office. Digital photography had not yet been conceived. A humongous wooden camera with rolls of photosensitive paper was located there and was at our disposal. We availed ourselves of its offerings mightily. Behind that camera the darkroom proper resided with a couple of Besler enlargers and a few completely dark film changing rooms/closets. A long trough-like sink down the center of the darkroom provided for the trays of developer, stop, fix and wash solutions. There were also some large general purpose sinks that sometimes tended to accumulate debris, paper towels, etc. A plumbing failure left us without water one day. We suffered, did the best that we could, and left at the end of the day, a Friday I believe, without cleaning the sinks or checking the water taps. Upon returning to the department the next morning, or perhaps the next Monday morning, we were greeted by a mini waterfall cascading down the library’s stairwell to the department. The plumbing problem had be resolved.
TV Interview Click the picture to open a new window where you can view a half hour interview with Lee Spalt. Lee is interviewed by Najjar Abdul-Musawwir, the host of the WSIU TV Expressions show.
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Design at Southern Illinois University