By: Anne M. Giangiulio
Early this year, my other UTEP graphic design faculty colleagues and I were each asked to design elements that would be sold as commemorative merchandising to celebrate UTEP’s Centennial Celebration in 2014.
The task was for me to design a large women’s scarf. I thought about my design and felt that it should of course represent UTEP, but also the beauty of our campus and the surroundings we are lucky enough to be inspired by each day—I feel fortunate as a faculty member here at UTEP to have such a lovely campus as my workplace. I also felt that much of the merchandise one sees in the campus bookstore is of an athletic variety—Something to wear to a football or basketball game, something that depicts the University’s logo but does not go much beyond that. In short, the existing merchandise was not taking into account the gorgeous campus that houses the academic life so integral to both the student and faculty experience of UTEP. How could a woman express her love of and connection with UTEP with a beautiful scarf that could go with any outfit, in a non-stadium setting, at an event about town, out to dinner, or with alumnae friends?
To that end, I looked to the amazing architecture on campus. Despite having been a faculty member for over nine years now, I am still taken aback by it. I think of my job interview here back in March of 2004 and recall being quite surprised to see buildings that resembled the Potala Palace of Lhasa, Tibet that I had visited on vacation three years earlier. “What was this type of architecture doing in El Paso, Texas?!” I have since discovered the answer to that of course—The first Dean’s wife was so inspired by a 1914 National Geographic article, “Castles in the Air: Experiences and Journey’s into the Unknown Bhutan” that it served as a guide for the University’s earliest Bhutanese-styled buildings.
As for the scarf’s medium of watercolor, it is something I have always personally enjoyed as strictly hobby. I will send watercolor postcards to friends when on vacation and did many of sites, drawn wonky and freehanded, around my small island town when I was in the Peace Corps in Cape Verde (West Africa), sitting in cafes and coffee shops. A St. Anthony of Padua scarf of my mother’s that she obtained while on her honeymoon in Italy in 1965 inspired the border and typography of the UTEP scarf. Seemed she needed something to cover her sleeveless dress shoulders when entering a church there and bought it from a nearby street vendor. I had permanently borrowed it to drape over my home office printer to keep the dust off and thus it was always in sight and in my consciousness. In general, my home and my surroundings, no matter how mundane they may seem on the surface, are a constant source of inspiration.
The scarf features 36 campus buildings and the Sun Bowl, though I painted more than this that were not used. In addition, there are corner mandalas taken from various campus buildings as well as hand painted renditions of the UTEP logo and my own handwriting in the borders. The original watercolors were scanned and then arranged digitally in Photoshop to create the design’s layout. The project was a labor of love and took months to execute but I am more than thrilled with the result. This 100% silk scarf is being sold for $99 on campus at the University Bookstore, at La Tienda Shop of the Centennial Museum, and off campus at Tres Mariposas on Mesa Street. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did creating it.