Vinson Art Acknowledged in Iraq

Vinson LamassuPLAINVIEW – Sitting in your Graphic Design I class during your first semester of college, chances are you aren’t thinking about publishing one of your class projects in an international publication. You certainly aren’t thinking about sending another class project to the Iraqi foreign embassy in Washington D.C. only to catch the eye of their cultural attaché.  Then again, you aren’t Allyson Vinson.

Vinson, a freshman at Wayland Baptist University, decided to major in graphic design when professor Dejan Mraović encouraged her to take a course during the Fall 2020 semester. She quickly fell in love with the forgiving nature of design, Mraović’s zest for his students and his approach to the art.

“He is very open about his students going above and beyond,” Vinson said. “He is very proud of his students.”

Of course, Mraovic is likely to say it helps when students show a passion for what they are doing in class. Vinson’s passion and Mraovic’s leadership have brought the Lubbock native a little notoriety from the unlikeliest of places. In her Art History course, Vinson became interested in artwork from ancient Iraq. In particular, the Lamassu, a Sumerian protective deity with the head of a god, body of a bull and wings of an eagle, made a particular impression. Vinson was taking Art History at the same time as her Graphic Design I course.

“For some reason, I just really hung onto the Lamassu,” Vinson said. “We were concurrently doing various forms on a grid (in Graphic Design.) Everyone else was doing animals and stuff, so I just decided to do the Lamassu.”

The result was a 1980s, Andy Warhol inspired treatment of the Lamassu in a repeating pattern of vibrant colors.

The piece sparked an idea which led Mraović to encourage Vinson to send it to the Iraqi Embassy in Washington D.C.

“I was super nervous when we sat down and wrote that first email,” Vinson said. “I was shaking.”

Not only was the email and artwork well-received, but Vinson was also contacted by the Iraqi Cultural Attaché Dr. Ali Al Mayahi who thanked her for her work and her interest in Iraqi culture. Iraqi consul asked Vinson for her mailing address so they could send her a letter from His Excellency Ambassador of the Republic of Iraq in Washington D.C Dr. Fareed Yasseen who wanted to express his gratitude.

“[The letter] essentially said, ‘Thank for your contribution,’ and told me more about Iraqi culture,” Vinson said. “It is actually a really rich culture with art and inventions and science.”

This is the second piece of Vinson’s artwork to impress others in the art world. She also submitted a typography project for publication in Creative Quarterly, an internationally renowned graphic design and illustration magazine based in New York City. Her project was to use appropriate typography to add lettering to an emergency vehicle. Vinson selected a fire truck she thought was from the 1920s. Upon closer inspection, Mraović informed her that it was a Soviet vehicle from the 1930s.

“I had no idea,” Vinson said. “Once we figured that out, we embraced it. He helped me find a type face from a female designer from the 1930s. It’s an old Soviet font.”

Vinson selected the font Literaturnaya by designer Lyubov Alexeevna Kuznetsova. She added the wording “Lubbock Fire Department” to the sides top and rear of the engine, along with a station number.  Once submitted, the poster was selected for publication in the 63rd edition of Creative Quarterly.

Vinson joins artists from institutions such as the University of Arts London, Istituto Europeo di Design in Milano, Italy, New York Academy of Art, Savannah College of Art and Design and many others, in having her work published. She is the second WBU student of Mraović to be published in the magazine in the past two years. Madeline Allison had a piece published in September of 2020.

Vinson said she will continue to work on her graphic design and to learn from Mraović’s multi-cultural and historical approach to the art. While she hasn’t narrowed down her career aspirations just yet, Vinson said she would like to work as a freelance graphic designer, among other things. For now, however, she is glad she chose Wayland where professors give her the freedom to pursue creativity within the arts.

“Professors give us a loose-threaded prompt and say, Ok, go for it,” Vinson said. “That is something I like.”