Finding Work Life Balance with Color

Most of the time, we strive to keep our work life and our personal life separate. We carry two separate phones, we don’t answer emails after 7 pm on Friday nights and we try not to inundate our partner with the daily office happenings over pasta dinner.

The biggest exception is – my work life really cares about my personal life.

Gretchen Wagner at SCAD

Celebrating the simple pleasure of accurately mixed color and perfect gradation (le sigh).

So, from September to November last year I temporarily moved (back) to Savannah, Georgia and served as an Ambassador in Residence at my alma mater, the Savannah College of Art and Design, through the SCAD Alumni Atelier Program. Created and endowed by SCAD President and Founder, Paula Wallace, the program provides alumni with dedicated time and space to focus on expanding their creativity, all the while creating a more meaningful connection with the university.

Color dyes

Gradation of dye samples (left) and swatch materials being rinsed (right).

SCAD project

Sunny Savannah studio views of swatch material and recipes arranged according to color gradation.

During my ambassadorship, I executed a project that further examined my interest in color theory. Wheel explored the use of saturated color to create an interactive, life size color wheel constructed from nearly 500 yards of hand dyed silk. It took precision, algebra and countless bike rides back and forth to the studio to ensure its completion. The technical process in creating Wheel ultimately yielded a simple tangible shape that allowed visitors to part the panels and enter the circular color space within.

Gretchen's SCAD project

Mock up of final installation (right) and hour one of installation at Pei Ling Chan Gallery the day of the exhibition (right).

The final installation was composed of sixty silk panels each hand dyed a slightly different variation of color from one to the next, emulating the seamless color transitions in a spectrum. Wheel was exhibited alongside the work of fellow alumni ambassadors, whose specialties ranged from ceramics and furniture design, to accessory design, documentary filmmaking and screenplay writing, this past November at the Pei Ling Chan Gallery in Savannah, Georgia.

Color "Wheel" final project

Wheel, 16.5’ x 11.5’ round. installed at the Pei Ling Chan Gallery in Savannah, Georgia

My years spent at SCAD during my undergrad propelled me into my career and evolving studio practice. Returning to Savannah and creating Wheel was a tangible reminder of what the creative mind is capable of. Infinite thanks to both my SCAD and Interface families for helping make these inspired moments possible.

In other news – enjoy some process photos, color lovers.

For more information about the SCAD Alumni Atelier, visit here.
To explore more color musings from designer Gretchen Wagner, visit Instagram or
This project was funded through the Alumni Atelier Program for Alumni Development from the Savannah College of Art and Design.
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