Scholar Explores Productive Exchanges Between Architecture and Comics
Scholar of the Month
Associate Professor of Architecture
College of Architecture and Environmental Design
Paul DiCorleto, Kent State University’s vice president for research and sponsored programs, likes to say that “innovation occurs where fields collide,” and October’s Scholar of the Month is certainly a testament to the idea that has become the university’s new research tagline.
Jon Yoder, Ph.D., associate professor in the College of Architecture and Environmental Design, has blended architecture and fine arts in a way that shines a bright spotlight on him, his work, his students and the college.
“Jon’s efforts this past year involving the framing, development and directorship of the Graphic Novels/Novel Architecture studio and symposium, have raised the profile of the college nationally,” said Mark Mistur, dean of Kent State’s College of Architecture and Environmental Design.
Last year, Yoder spearheaded the development of this cross-disciplinary programming that explored productive exchanges between architecture and comics. It spawned five workshops in his graduate design studio, a major symposium at the Cleveland Museum of Art, a forthcoming essay in the architecture journal Flat Out, an upcoming paper at the Modern Language Association annual conference and multiple student honors. It also enabled Yoder to collaborate with several other Kent State programs including the College of Education, Health and Human Services; the Department of English; and the School of Visual Communication Design.
“Architects always work closely with clients and consultants in other fields,” Yoder said. “Surprisingly, this is sometimes less common in academia. This ambitious Graphic Novels/Novel Architecture programming allowed the students to learn directly from leading architects, filmmakers, illustrators and scholars across an exciting range of creative fields.”
Recently, Yoder’s studio was awarded the best first-year Master of Architecture studio in the first ARCHITECT Studio Prize competition, organized by Architect magazine, a major professional architecture journal. The competition jury recognized five of his graduate students with $800 prizes, and the magazine published the students’ projects in its September issue. Two of these projects also were selected for the Archicomics as an International Language juried student exhibition at the Haus der Architektur in Graz, Austria, in May.
While doing all that, Yoder also netted a coveted Production and Presentation Grant from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts. This grant provided $10,000 to support the augmentation of visual content in his book titled “Widescreen Architecture: Immersive Media and John Lautner in Postwar Los Angeles,” which is forthcoming from Getty Research Institute (GRI) Publications.
Yoder has already presented this research in lectures at Cornell University, University of Minnesota and University of Southern California. Last year, director Bette Cohen featured his aerial drone photography in the 25th anniversary edition of her documentary film, “The Spirit in Architecture: John Lautner.”
“It is rare for a single academic unit to encourage and facilitate this kind of unconventional, multidisciplinary research on architecture and visual media,” Yoder said. “Without the support of my accomplished colleagues in the College of Architecture and Environmental Design, I could not have been nearly as creatively productive over the past three years. It is a tremendous privilege to work with such a progressive and engaged group of faculty, staff, students, alumni and administrators.”
Yoder came to Kent State in 2013 after spending seven years teaching design and theory at Syracuse University and the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc). He also has served as an invited critic at dozens of architecture schools including The Bartlett (University College London), Cornell University, Rice University, University of Michigan, University of Pennsylvania, University of Toronto and Yale University. An alumnus of Goshen College in Indiana, Yoder received his Master of Architecture degree from the University of Texas at Austin in 1996 and his Ph.D. in Architecture (Film, Television, and Digital Media minor) from UCLA in 2011. Prior to his doctoral research, he worked as a designer on published projects for leading architecture firms in New York, Portland and Los Angeles.
In his time at Kent State, Yoder has sat on at least five service committees, penned two published essays with two others in progress, published two book chapters, presented five conference papers, organized three film series, curated two exhibitions, earned six awards and/or grants, advised four graduate students’ completed theses and taught eight different courses.
About Scholar of the Month
Kent State’s Scholar of the Month recognizes faculty researchers and scholars whose recent work has had an important impact on their professional fields and has brought exposure to the university. Each month, a different college will have the opportunity to nominate a researcher/scholar for this recognition. There is also a month when a faculty member from the Regional Campuses will be featured.
The selection process is in the hands of the dean and his or her colleagues and faculty. Hence, this is recognition by the person’s college colleagues that is then taken up by the university. The deans communicate the person’s name to the Division of Research and Sponsored Programs for recognition as Scholar of the Month.