CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE SCHOOL OF DESIGN
THE PROJECT M / EUREKA!
SCHOOL OF DESIGN INTERDISIPLINARY DESIGN BLITZ PROJECT
AN EVENT INSPIRED BY THREE VISIONARIES TO USE THE POWER
OF DESIGN TO INITIATE SOCIAL CHANGE. 2014-PRESENT
I am a fan of the late, great Samuel Mockbee and his work with the Rural Studio
at Auburn University. Mockbee believed that architecture should be available to everyone, regardless of social or economic standing or condition. To show his students by example, he started the Rural Studio Project, where architecture students are required to design and build structures for the poorest residents of Hale County. Students use donated materials to make beautiful and functional homes, ecclesiastical spaces, recreation centers, and other buildings in the area.
The late Tibor Kalman is also someone who I admire for his belief that designers should use their skills to increase awareness of social problems. The First Things First Manifesto, signed by Kalman and many other notable designers and visual experts,
is inspirational implores and challenges designers to use their talents for the greater good instead of just for commercial gain. Kalman is also well known for his shocking graphic imagery when he was Art Director for Colors Magazine, highlighting social ills of the day. His example influenced many designers, including his protègè Stefan Sagmeister, whose public installations bring attention to various problems and issues.
I am also inspired by the work of John Bielenberg; Graphic Designer, AIGA Medalist, and Activist for Social Change, who founded Project M after attending a Mockbee lecture. He named Project M for Mockbee and for the State of Maine, where he has conducted many Project M Design Blitzes. Bielenberg selects recent graduates of art, design, and other programs to participate in blitzes held in various locations in the U.S. and in a number of other countries. Two of our Graphic Design alumni have worked extensively with Bielenberg on his blitz projects, and it was a long-standing objective of mine to bring a Project M Blitz to RIT. I was very fortunate to do so in 2014. This was our EUREKA! prototype and model.
I strongly believe in offering students meaningful, powerful collaborative, interdisciplinary service-oriented projects, and I believe that the EUREKA! annual projects can have long-lasting impact on participants as they move from student life to professional practice. This project offers the opportunity for students to take part in an interdisciplinary experience, and use design thinking to “Think wrong to do good”, in the words of Bielenberg.
THE WORD EUREKA! IS AN EXCLAMATION OF DISCOVERY AND
A GREETING OF HELLO AND GOODBYE
Participants use the bonding word EUREKA! as a greeting, and as a sign of community.
This project, inspired by the work of Mockbee, Kalman and Bielenberg, is close to
my heart. I believe is of great value to our student participants. This annual 48 hour design blitz is open to School of Design students of all levels and disciplines who want to learn from each other and use their skills to initiate social change. Students apply via a video expressing their interest in a social cause, and are selected by a jury
of School of Design faculty. Once accepted, participants are placed on multi-level, interdisciplinary teams for the blitz.
A committee of School of Design faculty selects the specific City of Rochester partner/beneficiary for each blitz, and invites a well-known facilitator with expertise in that area from one of the five School of Design disciplines to oversee the event. The prompt for each event evolves from the needs or objectives of the partner/beneficiary and the skill set of the facilitator. Students follow the IDEO Model of Design Thinking and work over a 48 hour period to create empathy, conduct research, sketch concepts, edit, prototype and test. The emphasis of EUREKA! is on concept generation and process, and not on the final design. The teams create videos and present their findings and proposed solutions to a panel of judges who select the strongest concepts to move forward to possible funding and implementation.
This project is so rewarding; so touching and powerful in every respect. Watching our students work together, observing their perspectives change throughout the weekend, and witnessing them work intensely and intentionally toward a common purpose....
it’s just a wonderful experience. It is a fantastic opportunity to create a sense of community within the School.
Many students have expressed a desire to continue their projects after the event,
and have pursued them as personal projects, independent studies and capstone investigations. Many students work together on projects, both in the classroom and outside, after meeting during EUREKA!
Several students have participated for two years, and some students have told me that this experience has changed their perspective of what design IS, and how design CAN impact the community in important and meaningful ways. I hope this project
or something like it will continue long into the future in CIAS.
CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE GRAPHIC DESIGN DEPARTMENT
SENIOR WALKTHROUGH / PORTFOLIO WALK/ YES! /
SENIOR SHOWCASE EVENT
COMMITTEE MEMBER 2015-PRESENT
In the spring of 2008, I mentioned to the Graphic Design faculty that it would be
a positive experience for our graduating seniors to have an event in which family, friends, students, alumni, prospective employers and the public would be able to see and celebrate their accomplishments. The School for American Crafts has had an event called Walkthrough for all of its students for over 30 years, and The School
of Art has also opened its studios for many years to showcase the work of its senior students. It made sense to build on this existing plan.
The faculty agreed that this would be a good idea, so I contacted the School for American Crafts (SAC) to see if we could hold the event on the same day as its event. At that time, SAC did not agree with this plan, although it did so in subsequent years.
I contacted the School of Art and we agreed to hold our Walkthrough events on the same day to create a more festive atmosphere with visitors throughout studios in Booth Hall. I coordinated this first event by myself.
Subsequent events involved the Industrial Design Department and were called
the School of Design Walkthrough event. The names for the event changed from Walkthrough to Portfolio Walk, to YES! (Year End Showcase) and now to the Graphic Design Senior Showcase. Graphic Design students have generally shown their work
in the University Gallery in the Vignelli Center for Design Studies, with two years
in Studio 3310.
This event is now required of all seniors, and is a highlight of the year for students
to display their portfolios and capstone projects. Underclassmen who attend are inspired to see that work that they will be doing in the years ahead. And while it is not a career fair, local and regional designers and art directors have hired students from this event. Student awards are also given during the Showcase, acknowledging student accomplishments in a festive and public setting.
Public attendance at Senior Showcase is 100+.
CIAS IMAGE LINK HERE
THE GRAPHIC DESIGN BLOG CREATOR/COORDINATOR 2011-2014
Other departments within the College of Imaging Arts and Sciences had blogs by 2011, when I mentioned to the faculty that it would be an advantage for the Graphic Design Department to have a blog platform in which to promote projects and events, highlight student accomplishments, provide internship and job postings and announcements, and a listing of resources for projects and courses. The blog would also serve to create a greater sense of community within our department.
I served as the contact person for faculty to submit information for placement on the blog, and with the capable assistance of graduate students, organized the blog and updated content regularly. In addition, internship and job listings also came to me for inclusion on the blog. I compiled an exhaustive list of resources for students to assist them in their courses and projects, from blogs and websites, books, conference listings, organizations, locations to purchase supplies and props, locations on campus for services and supplies, etc.
In addition to providing a place for our current students to go to find information, I felt that it was important to include other members of our community. As the Liaison to Adjuncts who teach senior level courses, I felt it was important to offer adjuncts the opportunity of including their information on the blog. Since they are not included on the cias.rit.edu site, this would be an introduction to their expertise to our students.
Also, since I am the Alumni Liaison for the department, I believe it is really important to include our alumni whenever possible. I suggested to my successor, Kelly Murdoch-Kitt, that we have a “Spotlight” Section on the blog, where faculty and alumni
can contribute their bios or other information for inclusion on the site. She has incorporated this concept, and several alumni have contributed to the Spotlight Section. This serves two purposes: it inspires our current students and provides contacts for them as they seek professional opportunities, and it creates and maintains a stronger bond with our valuable alumni.
RIT HAND LETTERING CLUB 2009-PRESENT
In 2009, a group of students approached me with questions about hand lettering;
how to find resources, ways in which they could use their skills on campus and beyond....and the Hand Lettering Club was born. Led by an illustrator and a graphic designer, the first group created the vision and mission of the club. Hand Lettering Club is an official RIT organization and it's members host calligraphers and lettering artists regularly, and meet to share techniques, provide feedback, and make projects for sale and for free. The club is open to the RIT Community, and many students from majors outside of CIAS attend meetings and events.
One way to RIT/CIAS Clubs to maintain critical mass in terms of attendance and participation is to join forces with organizations to host events. Hand Lettering Club has joined with the RIT Student Chapter of AIGA for several events, including the Typographic Carousel events and the ever-popular Lovin' Letters Valentine's Workshop. To increase visibility, Hand Lettering Club has also had a booth at
the Imagine RIT Festival. This is a vibrant and fun organization to work with!
CIAS IMAGE LINK HERE