The third, and final, lens of my degree project was a social lens, through which I explored what it means to be a designer engaged with his community; both in the context of Providence and RISD.
As I was thinking about what I wanted to do for my degree project, I thought about how I could I take this project and time and use it as an opportunity to further the work I have been doing outside/inside of RISD and to collaborate with other students and people in my community. Although the core “thesis” of my dp (loosely) defines it as an exploration of home through three distinct lenses—by no means were any of the projects or explorations mutually exclusive. That being said, the labelling of the lenses was more of a means of me providing a framework and structure for the work I was making during my degree project.
For the social lens, I released a survey on social media asking my network (and my friends’ extended network) questions about what home means to them, in terms of geographic location and personal sentiment. One of the projects that crossed-over from my ISP and my DP was an illustrated zine about all the homes I have lived in since I was born through spring 2017.
I mention this zine, because it led me both to the survey and to working with Anina, a mfa thesis student who was doing her thesis on the topic of home. While my definition of home is dynamic, her perspective was static: her home in the Bahamas. Anina and I first met at the Haystack Art School Collaborative in Maine in the fall, and it was great to be able to reconnect before we graduated. We had some really rich conversations about our work and the its relation to the concept of home.
I also collaborated with Ruth and DoYun, two of my dp peers in graphic design. With Ruth, we did a postcard project sending nonlinear memories and messages back and forth to each other in relation to home and identity. DoYu and I worked on a visual mapping of 25 objects we each brought in and made relationships intermixing and arranging in different compositions.
Lastly, I used the social lens as a means of reevaluating and refocusing more energy on my role as an artist mentor at NUA. That community is honestly so warm and incredible. I feel so blessed to have been a part of it, and for the impact it has had on my career as an artist/designer/human-being; not just artistically but socially.
Jesus answered, ‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’
—John 4:13–14, NIV
Through my degree project, I explored the concept of home, and the social responsibilities of a designer engaged with his community, through three lenses. The first lens was ‘political.’
To quote my dp presentation, “Through a political lens—I explored what it means to be American. Are you considered to be American if you live in America? Or does being American require citizenship and legal status? Especially in today’s political climate, fear and hate have been instilled within our nation, and it has raised the question of what it means to consider America our home.”
What does it mean to be American? & What does it mean to be living in America today?
At the beginning of the semester, I had the desire to use my dp as an opportunity to work with people and organizations that I am interested in, and haven’t had the chance to work with prior. I first heard about Dorcas International Institute of Rhode Island from Lucy (or from a mutual friend who told me that Lucy was interning there over the summer through the Maharam program). And throughout my senior year, I’ve seen an influx of DIIRI/RISD related programs and flyers. Then, out of the blue, Brandon (who later became one of my bosses and mentors at DIIRI) came to speak about DIIRI in one of my art history (Socially Engaged Art) classes.
Long-story-short, I ended up doing an unofficial design internship/design volunteer with DIIRI, designing bilingual Know Your Rights pamphlets and the identity for the KYR campaign. (You may read more about this project on my website).
The KYR project ended up consuming a lot of my time and energy throughout the semester, numerous iterations and receiving feedback from various perspectives and critics. I am proud to have designed something that was able to make such a significant, real-world impact. And at the end of the degree project, I questioned whether I would have been able to design a stronger identity/pamphlet had I only targeted the KYR project for my dp. And despite that, I do not think the project in its entirety would have been as rich without all the components of my dp. And I would not have felt as satisfied had I not pursued KYR or the other projects in tandem for my dp.
Besides the KYR project with DIIRI, I had done some political postings. Including bilingual voting guides, postings about hope and inclusion, responses about inclusivity and ‘home’ in America. But these were all exercises that led to the KYR projects as the primary project of the political lens of my dp.
More about the other lenses and my dp next week!
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands
—Revelation 7:9, ESV
Time is going by so fast! There are so many things to do, and so little time.
This past week, I made some edits to KYR and also to the Hope booklet, and have spent most of my DP mindspace working on the final deliverables and documenting projects. The final deliverables for DP are as follows:
— 1 minute video promoting your DP
— written abstract to be handed-out during your DP presentation
— DP presentation (for day of the critique)
— process book
KYR is chugging along, and (in my exhausted opinion) the design is almost done! We are having it translated in other languages right now through DIIRI. The only thing still up for contention, is the cover (I believe). Hopefully Tom and Conrad’s feedback will be insightful. I know Brandon, Susan and Jessica are wanted for it to be done soon. Spanish copy is due next Monday I believe? During the Sanctuary City panel discussion
This weekend, I documented all of the postcards Ruth and I have collaborated on thus far, edited the photos from Do Yun and my collaboration, and documented/edited Anina’s spoons. I have arranged to meet with Ruth on Wednesday in the afternoon to discuss our collaboration and final deliverable, and Anina and I will be meeting next week (after this week). I was able to catch Anina just as I was wrapping up the documentation in her studio. We shared a nice chat and she’s willing to sit down for another discussion and a-go at the book design now that the photos are taken and edited. I still need to document the Our America show, though. I’ll do that tomorrow morning.
This evening, after meeting with Cyrus for my ISP in the morning and the second to last NUA session, I worked on writing my abstract and an outline of what I want to present for DP. It’s a lot. I think I will need to condense and edit the information down, or just speak quickly. It is a testament to the work I’ve done this semester, the conceptual thinking, but I can only hope the deliverables can live up to the theory, and that I am able to articulate and communicate the richness of the exploration in the presentation itself.
With two showcases/presentations coming so soon, it’s a bit overwhelming. ISP showcase (May 22nd) and DP presentation (May 25th). The postcards for the ISP showcase came in the mail today, and I purchased the envelopes from Paperworks this morning. Alex will be giving me a deal on the Mohawk paper for the Hope booklet (thank you, Alex!). And I am trying to wrap up most of the production-y side of things for both so I can focus on the presentation and visual design of the room, etc.
I was watching the DP presentation videos just now, and I was… (not to be offensive) but unimpressed? I don’t know. The videos seem very vague and abstract. Minimal. Maybe it’s because I’m taking type in motion right now, I’m extra critical? Or maybe because I assume a lot of effort needs to be put in it (not that the videos I watched didn’t have a lot of effort!). But it helps alleviate some of the pressure I suppose. Thankfully, type in motion ends this week and I can use that time in my schedule to work on the 1 minute video (1 minute is long!). Cyrus liked the animation I made of prensa, he said he was touched and his mother would be too. Sometimes he is overly kind in his critique.
We will be meeting with Tom in one-on-one meetings tomorrow. Because I missed last week, I hope he is not overly expectant for an abundance of new work. I do believe I have put in a lot of thinking and effort, but I am always unsure when ‘enough is enough.’
Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything.
—2 Corinthians 6:10
Pastor Sarah gave a really great sermon on friendship on Sunday; and it really spoke to a lot of things that have been on my mind. Mike struggled with it a lot during service, and it was a challenge for me to be a good friend (ironically) to him, but God pulled through for me. He always does. She also spoke about how our culture, both religious and not, has a lack of imagination for intimacy that is not sexual. And I found that really profound. I suppose one could argue we have “platonic relationships” but even then…
Writing the outline and abstract made me realize how much more seriously I take my faith now, and the impact centering myself on Christ in all areas of my life, especially my work through my DP and my ISP, have had on my life. Maybe Joanna is right in encouraging me to pursue baptism. I pray God that you would reveal the answer and that your will would be done.
I continue to search for the right opportunity for future employment; and am expectant that God has a plan. I interviewed again today but am still holding out for an email I was expecting last week. More and more people ask the proverbial question, I am not offended or anxious to answer. But it would be nice to know.
It has been a jiff—spring break came and went. But weather-wise, spring seems to finally be here in Providence! Though this break wasn’t as productive as I would have liked, I feel well-rested, and as prepared as I can be for the final stretch. Can’t complain also that this Monday back has been such a blessing seeing familiar, warm faces. This may be a long post (due to my procrastination and lack of posting the last two weeks).
Quick recap of Week 5 Critique (March 21st) with Tom O. and Denise:
—Tom mentioned the difference between self-driving/interactive pieces vs. delineating/dictating to the audience
—emphasis on the discovery in the process of learning
—separate the Bible verse name from the text of the verse: more evocative and less direct
—critique the process: is this making and what I’ve done thus far leading or going somewhere conclusive? what does it mean? how does it relate?
—be critical of what receiving/making: the value it can add
—Denise suggested I travel to places I would potentially identify as home on a cultural/identity basis
—”And justice for all…” Jan Van Eyck/Ole Baumann (???)
—be open to the possibility and explore the process, but be critical. assessment
—pull it together: synthesize
—don’t limit with hierarchy: experiential for the reader/viewer
—take advantage of the experience
Following the critique that week, I attended the Design in Action panel discussion, volunteered at DIIRI and attended the KYR Workshop held at Dorcas, and then it was spring break! All these things fed into my DP subconsciously I imagine. During spring break, I had a couple of interviews: taking day trips to NYC and the greater Boston area. I also spent time with Joe and D.Rhee in Cambridge, and Rikio came to PVD for two nights. It was really great spending time with them and waxing poetic about the past and ambiguous future. Being around them and reminiscing on the past, reminds me of a home and a sense of belonging associated with where I grew up in California. Time with old friends definitely made me not going back to California this break much more bearable.
In terms of DP progress since last-last week (Week 5):
I missed NUA during spring break, but it was nice to come back earlier today. Kah made progress on the poster, and I spoke with Mel and we plan to launch the project next week. Today was especially quiet at NUA because of the beautiful spring weather (and it being Monday), and the studio is preparing for RISD’s Unbound sale later this week.
I will be selling some Spam prints, the collage postcards from my ISP, the Dwelling zine, and other printed goods. I picked up the postcards from Moo earlier today. Unfortunately, due to my laziness/procrastination, I couldn’t order the stickers in time for the sale (this Saturday). I am considering throwing out the idea of crowd-sourcing drawings of people’s homes from the sale, because I will not have the stickers as an incentive. I suppose I could do prints of the houses as a give-away in exchange? I am unsure. I already have a lot to prepare and a lot of money I need to make up for at the sale (God be willing, I pray).
I still need to analyze the results from the survey, I am hoping to receive more submissions but I can’t use that as an excuse forever. I need to sit down, process, and consider how to translate the results in some form. Currently 120+(?) responses.
I just received Ruth’s next response. She says she is enjoying the process too! I still need to respond to it. I had meant to grab dinner with Do Yun and discuss a collaboration during spring break, but I neglected to reach out (are you catching the theme about me during spring break yet? L A Z Y). I hope we can find time to discuss the possibility still. The collaboration with Emily doesn’t seem to be happening any more?
I got some feedback from Cyrus today on the posters, I feel good about them. But I don’t know how to pull the religious lens (Christian lens) further. More involvement with Sanctuary? I attended the Easter Service Rally, and have been meaning to wake up early enough and register for the Discipleship class. Enoch reached out to me and we are both considering confirmation; walking with Joanna has also been really encouraging as we prepare our hearts for May. I am considering studying another religion? Or more form making to translate Christianity and the context of home—Earth and Heaven (and Hell?)—in other forms.
The KYR workshop was really insightful and helped me generate better content for the handout I showed Brandon and Susan at DIIRI last week. They had some great feedback and showed me this powerpoint they had recently received advising people on how to give KYR presentations and what to say, etc. It was really insightful to read through. It’s challenging and exciting to be working on a project that is really needed, but also really vaguely defined. Brandon and Susan talk about it as if we are still formulating what it really is and the extent of what information needs to be present on it. But having the first draft to show them last week was really helpful to get the ball rolling. I am working on a second draft to show them next week and a really crude spanish version.
Reading this material on KYR (Know Your Rights) is surreal. Part of me cannot believe that this is real and needed, and the other part of me is stunned with how basic/sad these rights really are, and the fact that a product like this is genuinely needed and people are unaware of their rights. It’s all pretty scary. But really empowering to be a part of this and to help out as I can. That in itself is what I sought to find through this degree project—using graphic design to make social impact and promote social good.
Tomorrow is our mid-term presentation/critique in front of the whole section, Tom (our advisor), and a guest critique. We have to make an 8-minute digital presentation, supplemented with printed materials. I have the presentation mostly laid out, I need to write in what I want to say and print out some final materials. I feel confident in my topic and the work I’ve done—my only concerns are the fact that I don’t have much tangible/visual progress from before spring break, but I am progressing. I hope to receive some insight and direction in terms of suggestions on where to pursue further and things to look into/consider.
I am grateful for this lack of worry, but pray to be humble and open to criticism (both harsh and negative), and to present to the best of my ability and articulate my project, in its complexity and ‘richness’, in a way that is concise and accessible. Those are my goals for my presentation and for the synthesis. That this degree project would tie itself conclusively in a way that I can articulate it efficiently and effectively, without using unnecessarily fancy language or taking up an exorbitant amount of time.
God be with me tomorrow, be with me always.
For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.
—Luke 18:14, ESV
*written 5 hours after DP Week 3 meeting in section*
Recap of some feedback I received in section today – the presentation went well. I feel more confident in my direction and am excited about the work I am making. Tom and my peers had some great advice on making work that solicited a response and collected information from people, in addition to making work that is releasing information. Some statements I really found insightful from today’s feedback (roughly paraphrasing):
The more direct a message is, the less we [the audience/reader] feel like we can contribute.
How can structures [established through layout, typography, etc.] and formal relationships establish meaning and push the visual language?
The dynamic sense of home/idea of overlapping homes
It is always exciting to see what my peers have been up to as well, and how their ideas are taking shape. I am hoping to be able to work with some of the people in my section – Ruth and I are thinking about doing a postcard series back and forth (her topic is untraditional narratives). Jane and Denise are both doing projects based on identity, which could overlap nicely with my topic as well.
One of the artists Jane referenced in her presentation, Do Ho Suh, is someone one of the graduate TA’s had shown me in DS2. His work is really interesting and I may research further into it for my ow DP.
Some additional notes from a conversation I had with Ruth during break: Momentos from home – things you cary with you from home Feelings and objects – memories and objects
Value of multiples vs. select few
How much of home do we carry with us?
That’s all for today. I just came up with a new posting design, prompting people to fill in the blank “Home, ________ home.” I hope it solicits a response from people, I am hesitant to attach a pen to the poster because of cost and graffiti issues. But there will be a tear off element. I hope to print and post them tomorrow.
Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but he was raised to life in the Spirit.
1 Peter 3:18, NLT
I just finished writing out the notes for my presentation in section this week for my degree project–I am so amazed with how fast everything is going and how busy the semester already is. Juggling DP, job applications, sleep, and catching up with people (and sleep), has been a bit of a challenge.
However, I am enjoying my DP topic and the work I am making, even though the topic is still very broad. Everything seems to be falling in to place–and it is exciting to have God lead and be so present in the work I am making. I am also enjoying working with many different types of people and sharing conversations and being inspired by other people’s experiences and insights. I have a lot to say–but also not.
Here’s a “brief” recap of where I am with my projects up-to-this-point:
First posting was made last week–seemed to have a positive reception, of course some locations are more effective than others. There were some comments written on two of the postings about the connotations of ‘American’ and the song used–this is ‘Native’ land, not colonial land. It has made me think a lot about what it means to be American, and will feed a lot into my next posting.
Made some quick origami explorations of language (Spanish and Japanese) through poetic form making.
Making progress on the posters about the Christian journey–finding home, creating family. Funny how interconnected everything–grace of God. Serena helped a lot with refining the design, and Cyrus had a great idea of simplifying the poster and making it a series of four, one for each direction: upward, inward, outward, and together. I like that idea and will get to work on that.
I have my first interview/meeting with Dorcas tomorrow!
Mel, Kah and I had our first group meeting about NUA UNO, and we divi’ed up the roles and are getting it started! I am excited to see it unfold.
I met briefly with Emily to discuss collaboration at church on Sunday–hoping to meet with her in person to see the work and discuss further our ideas.
A lot going on! But it’s all exciting. Hopefully the feedback from the presentation and critique in section will be good today. Here back from me soon.
but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.
1 Peter 3:15–17, ESV
Judd’s famous design quote was brought up in critique which made me feel all sorts of ways. Today’s critique and final presentations made me feel similarly exhausted. Seeing all the amazing work that was made is one thing, but questioning the boundary between art and design and if it needs to be defined. I don’t think Judd’s quote is all encompassing or always true. Obviously things like this are open for interpretation.
Today I presented the final collaborative installation and we had final critique in section. Our guest critic was Emily Rye from the Design Agency; my Type I teacher last fall and where I had interned over the summer last year. It was great to have her see my work now and, with her knowing my background before, she was able to give in-depth feedback. The installation was fun; or it seems like they had fun making it.
Critique was very constructive. The hard-work was recognized, the integration of Japanese and English in the zine was commended and pleasing, but there was a lot of criticism, confusion and contention over different elements of the project. I had too many concepts going on and the use of Japanese was confusing. I don’t think I did the best job explaining everything, I didn’t really know how to introduce this project to be honest. It has been a crazy ride with a ton of learning and iterative making; I definitely struggled pulling it all together into a final conclusive form or statement in the end.