Work by USM design students on display at the Hattiesburg, Petal & Forrest County Library

Thu, 06/10/2022 – 11:09 | By: Van Arnold

A large collaborative project involving graphic design students from the University of Southern Mississippi (USM) and the Hattiesburg Petal & Forrest County Library resulted in the exhibition of several students’ work.

Students include a second/junior level course taught by USM Assistant Professor of Design Linh Nguyen. The project called on them to design educational materials to help educate the community, visitors and other guests about the renowned career of Will Eisner, considered the father of the graphic novel.

A grant from the Humanities Council of Mississippi obtained by the library paved the way for a six-week graphic novel celebration event (September 12 to October 22) showcasing Eisner’s career. Nguyen points out that the students were tasked with developing, designing and creating a special event collateral campaign, comprising two essential elements: designing an informational poster and a 12-page educational booklet in comic book form.

Project judges chose five main winners whose poster and brochure designs are on display. These include:

Mackenzie Masters, of Laurel, Miss., (for Eisner’s work in the military)

Elizabeth McPhail, of Jayess, Miss., (for Eisner’s work, “A Contract to God”)

Jeremy Thompson, of Sumrall, Miss., (for Eisner’s work, “The Spirit”

Grace May, of Puckett, Miss., (for later work by Eisner)

Karson Gunn (for Eisner’s early works)

Nguyen noted that the original plan for the library called for only five drawings to be displayed. However, due to the quality of the student’s efforts, five others were also selected. Those included:

Autumn Webb, of Gulfport, Miss.

Ben Brunetz, of Madison, Miss.

Faith Pearce, Magee, Miss.

Willie Cooks, of Hattiesburg, Miss.

Josie Russell, of Magee, Miss.

Cherise Mann, D’Iberville, Miss.

“It was a pleasure working with these students over the summer,” said Nguyen. “They took what they learned from the Graphic Design Service-Learning course and implemented the lessons outside of class. Not only do they show dedication and drive to do the job and do it well, but they also showed their civic duty to their community and embraced graphic design for social good.

Nguyen continued, “No matter what it took, they were there to complete the project and help their community. It’s the kind of work ethic, drive, and dedication that will set these students up for success when they graduate from Southern Miss.

The Art & Design and Graphic Design programs are housed within USM’s School of Performing and Visual Arts. For more information, call 601.266.4161 or visit:

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