The Sit&Tell Project

Service Award Winner

Jenn Stucker
Associate Professor
Bowling Green State University

The Sit&Tell Project was a multi-participatory community-based art project that connected communities through pulling up a chair and sharing stories of Strong Women of Toledo. The project collected 100 stories as told by Toledo citizens as storytellers on World Storytelling Day (WSD), March 20, 2016 under the global theme of Strong Women. Based on the Toledo Arts Commission’s 2015 Strategic Plan for Arts & Culture, eight (8) neighborhoods were cited to illuminate, thus were chosen to be the sites of the story collections. On WSD, teams were sent to the Collingwood Arts Center, Toledo Public Library, The National Museum of the Great Lakes, The Ohio Theater, the Sofia Quintero Art & Cultural Center and The Fredrick Douglass Community Center to collect the 100 stories through in-person interviews. These recorded stories were told by or were about women recognized by their families, communities or organizations as strong and influential. Following the collection, the stories were assigned to juried (jurors: Andrew Shea, Antionette Carroll, Keetra Dean Dixon) artists/designers to visualize 100 chairs. The donated chairs from MTS Seating went on display at rolling exhibitions in those neighborhoods throughout the summer of 2016 with each chair containing a specific URL numbering to direct viewers to the corresponding audio recording of the story.

A preview event for 150 guests on June 14, 2016 unveiled 30 chairs at AIGA Toledo’s Pre-conference Cocktail Reception + Welcome talk for AIGA’s Nuts+Bolts Conference, followed by the first neighborhood launch of ten (10) chairs at the National Museum of the Great Lakes, with positive local press. During the summer a chair a day for 100 days was posted on social media outlets. All 100 chairs were featured in a final closing exhibition at the Toledo Museum of Art on September 24, 2016. In November, the chairs were sold through an online auction and the $7,500 raised was donated to the Toledo Arts Commission for art classes for young people in those neighborhoods.

The Sit&Tell Project participation included 180 storytellers and artists, eight community exhibition locations, 15 WSD listeners/volunteers, four BGSU Media and Communication undergraduates and an MC faculty member who collected WSD footage and audio, plus two BGSU Digital Arts graduate students and a DA faculty mentor who shot additional footage and edited the final video. Of the 100 designed chairs, the juried pool included 21 BGSU undergraduate graphic design students, eight BGSU School of Art faculty members, 32 BGSU alums, one chair by a graphic design class at Whitmer High School in Toledo and remaining chair designs by Toledo area artists. Exhibition venues expressed a deep gratitude for participating in the project and all stated they experienced an increase in their visitations.

www.sitandtell.com

SitTell overview

Jenn Stucker is an associate professor and division chair of Graphic Design at BGSU. She earned her BFA at BGSU and her MFA from Eastern Michigan University, both in graphic design. Jenn’s research interests include Design as Artist and Practitioner, Design as Scholarship of Engagement, and the Scholarship of Design Pedagogy. Her work has been published in several books on design and has received various award recognitions including, HOW Magazine’s 2013 and the 2017 International Design Awards for her community-based works, The You Are Here Toledo Project and the Sit&Tell Project. She is the co-founder/organizer of SWEAT (Summer Workshop for Experimentation and Thought,) a collaborative experience in experimental modes of making. She is also a founding board member of AIGA Toledo and has served in numerous leadership roles. Jenn has previously co-chaired two national AIGA Design Education conferences and has presented at several conferences across the country.

Reveal, Empower, Propel: Design Education for a Tenacious Community

Herb Vincent Peterson
Associate Professor of Design: Coordinator of Graphic Design
Co-Founder of Marion Design Co.
Division of Art + Design
Indiana Wesleyan University

Wendy Puffer
Assistant Professor: Coordinator of Design for Social Impact
Co-Founder of Marion Design Co.
Division of Art + Design
Indiana Wesleyan University

No larger than 30,000 people and deeply bruised by a downtrodden economy rooted in racial tensions, the rustbelt town of Marion, Indiana begs to become triumphant once again. A community previously slated to become the thriving metropolis of the Mid-West, now promotes a residue of the past with blighted storefronts, broken homes, and vast and vacant warehouses. Here lies the real crossroads of America. Never before has there been such a need to see Design as a mechanism to reveal a true identity within a community and empower its people to propel forward into a new chapter of vibrant life.

How can design empower radical change? How can students learning design employ empathy to develop relational design practices and drive trust in a community plagued by deep trauma? What is the responsibility of University design programs connected to rust-belt and blighted American towns?

This is the story about a social design studio and the subsequent movements that change how we consider community activism and design education. The studio of faculty and undergraduates face wicked problems head on while gaining experience conducting ethnographic research with community members. The environment of unbridled growth of ideas, reflective of the academic model of the middle ages, encourages individuality and freedom of thought. Through an immersive experience where students learn to become design leaders, the social design studio of Marion Design Co. utilizes design thinking strategies engaging community toward authentic relationships, bringing much needed hope and innovation.

INPLACE: Innovative Plan for Leveraging Arts Through Community Engagement

Robert J. Thompson 
Assistant Professor
Graphic & Interactive Design
Department of Art
College of Creative Arts & Communications
Youngstown State University

Terry Schwarz 
Director
Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative

Kent State University

In 2015, the National Endowment for the Arts, an independent federal agency that funds, promotes, and strengthens the creative capacity of our communities by providing all Americans with diverse opportunities for arts participation awarded the Department of Art in the College of Creative Arts & Communication at Youngstown State University with a $100,000 “Our Town” grant to fund arts engagement, cultural planning and design projects. Their programs support creative place-making projects that help to transform communities into lively, beautiful, and resilient places with the arts at their core.

The grant authors, Asst. Professor of Graphic Design, Leslie Brothers, Executive Director of the McDonough Museum of Art, and Dominic Marchionda, City-University Planner with Youngstown State University successfully proposed the “INPLACE” project, otherwise known as “Innovative Plan for Leveraging Arts through Community Engagement.” INPLACE came together over the course of three years through a unique blend of artists, designers, community stakeholders and civic leadership. It focuses planning initiatives and resources in targeted locations within city-in-revival Youngstown, Ohio to draw on the compounding effect of well-coordinated action and creative output. It is directed toward community driven public art projects that combine storytelling with art and design to create memorable, permanent place-making experiences throughout the city. The NEA chose only 64 of nearly 250 applications from across the nation for funding. INPLACE offers unique opportunities for members of Youngstown’s creative community to play an integral role in this prestigious NEA Our Town grant.

This presentation seeks to present the process of discovery, working with various constituencies within the Youngstown community, mentoring teams into cultivating meaningful, high-quality projects, share project proposals, and provide updates on the INPLACE project, which ends in July 2017.