Master of Fine Arts candidate Melvin Parada recounts his semester abroad at Hochshule für Gestaltung Offenbach am Main Art & Design in Frankfurt, Germany.
“This past month I finished my semester abroad at Hochshule für Gestaltung (Hfg) Offenbach am Main Art & Design located in Frankfurt, Germany. As part of my graduate studies in graphic design, I enrolled in two courses during their winter semester, conceptual design with a special topic on climate change and advanced typography with an emphasis on hand lettering through poster design. I was fortunate to study under Klaus Hesse (conceptual design) and Sascha Lobe (advance typography), both highly respected for their contributions to the graphic arts, professionally and academically. My tenure at Offenbach although brief (full year of study is recommended) allowed for a unique experience to learn within the German construct as well as collaborate with other students and professors. What marks Hfg Offenbach as an extraordinary experience for design students is its direct ties with the famed Bauhaus art school (1919-1933). Hfg Offenbach (1970-present) is two academies removed from Bauhaus, first having been founded by two professors of Hfg Ulm (1953-1968) a previously acclaimed art & design school which was founded by the first rector at Bauhaus, Max Bill. Many of the traditions and philosophies in the training and teaching of artists by these two previous institutions are at the core of Hfg Offenbach’s experience.
I prepared for my semester in Germany by taking 3 months of German language last summer. Although I only obtained a basic skill level, I was fortunate that almost all professors and students speak fluent english and many courses are often conducted in English. Hfg Offenbach, along with most other German institutions accept a good number of international students as part of the Erasmus program for international learning. This allowed for an easy transition with the ability to quickly assimilated and participate without fear of a language barrier. This is not to say that German isn’t the primary language, as most lecture courses are in German and native students primarily speak German in most instances. It did present an interesting perspective on the importance of being able to communicate ideas in a global setting, which the academy does a great job preparing its students through its exposure to international students who come to the academy to study and their dual use of English as a neutral language.
Alongside my studies at Hfg Offenbach, I’ve also taking advantage of Europe’s open borders visiting various other countries like Switzerland, France, Netherlands, Austria, Ireland, Italy, as well as other German cities. Throughout these visits I’ve sought out museums, libraries, art shows, and historic landmarks in the fields of design. These first hand visits of the places and people who have impacted the history and landscape of art & design has provided me with an enriched sense of understanding that classrooms often are unable to fully capture. This comprehensive learning experience, I am certain, will have great impact on my future endeavors as a designer and educator.
I return to DC this summer, beginning my thesis research and taking my final course requirements in the fall. I expect to graduate in the Spring 2018 with my MFA in graphic design.”
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