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New Albany Institute of History and Art exhibit features designs of the past

That speaks to the underlying message of the graphic design exhibit.

"It's not just a pretty display," McCombs said, noting that graphic design has been used for everything from selling products to touting political views to promoting social issues. The display will include posters, broadsides, package designs, paintings, decorative arts and historical photographs.

Although some things in the exhibit are national in scope " for instance, there are more than 800 World War I posters collected by Cuyler Reynolds, the institute's curator at the time " most have deep Capital District roots. And McComb pointed out that while the exhibit stretches back some 400 years, it also has a heavy modern influence.

Vicarious Visions, a local video game manufacturer, and Spiral Design Studios in Cohoes both contributed to the exhibit and will host a free presentation on graphic design in March. The two companies underscore the fact that graphic design is no longer limited to print.

"It's animated and it's interactive," McCombs said.

Students and faculty at The College of Saint Rose, which boasts one of the nation's highest rated graphic design programs, also had a hand in the display, which was exciting for both sides.

"They never get a chance to see real examples of graphic design," McCombs said. "Everything is in textbooks or slide shows. To see how things are printed and designed just doesn't happen."

Or, at least it didn't. The institute show will run through June 5 and will regularly feature speakers, workshops and presentations. A complementary exhibition, "Hajo: An Artist's Journey," opens on Saturday, March 5.

In each case, beyond the messages are exhibits that McCombs could only describe as "beautiful."

"It's just a treat for the eyes," he said.""

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