Ed Fella Exhibition Opens in Pasadena

Ed Fella exhibit

The poster for the Ed Fella exhibit was designed by Gail Swanlund.

I’m History, an exhibit featuring the works of Ed Fella, an acclaimed artist, graphic designer and typographer and a longtime CalArts faculty member, opens at Pasadena City College with an artist reception on Friday (Oct. 8).

Curated by CalArts alumnus Brian Tucker (Art BFA 87, MFA 89), now an associate professor of art at Pasadena City College and the college’s gallery director, the exhibition focuses on Fella’s multifaceted relationship to history. The title I’m History “suggests Fella’s dual status as an established figure in the history of design and as a senior practitioner who is now making way for subsequent generations.”

The show will feature original drawings, photos, sketchbooks and printed posters by Fella, who worked for 30 years as a commercial artist in Detroit before enrolling in an MFA design program at Cranbrook Academy of Art. He received his degree in 1987 and joined the faculty at CalArts the following year.

By that point in his career, Fella had already made a name for himself as a compelling designer who specialized in postmodern design and typography. Fella won the AIGA medal in 2007—the most distinguished award in the field of graphic design and arts–and Vince Carducci wrote about the artist’s work for the design association:

Just how innovative was his work? Even before Adobe had figured out how to kern digital fonts, Fella was deconstructing lines of copy, modifying typefaces (turning Bembo into Bimbo by hacking off the serifs, to cite one example) and jumbling them up. Not for another decade would desktop publishing achieve anywhere near the eye-bending effects Fella was getting with copy-camera photostats and X-Acto knives.

Now a self-described “exit-level” designer (as opposed to entry-level), Fella has been exploring alternative versions of his own history. His Counterfactual History project imagines the abstract paintings he might have created had he enrolled in art school in 1957 instead of working in the advertising industry. Some of these more recent works have also been included in I’m History.

We’ve included a few photographs from the exhibition above, including the show’s poster, which was created by Fella’s former student at CalArts, Gail Swanlund, who’s now a CalArts design faculty member. The text “Ed Fella” is set in a typeface designed by Sibylle Hagmann, a 1996 CalArts graduate from the MFA program in Graphic Design.

Ed Fella: I’m History
Pasadena City College Art Gallery
1570 East Colorado Blvd., Pasadena
Opening reception: Friday, Oct. 8 from 7-9 pm
Exhibition runs through Nov. 20

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