Developing stakeholder-informed visuals to improve mental health awareness and decrease stigma
Penina Laker Assistant Professor Washington University in St Louis
Children in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) comprise 50% of the total regional population, yet current mental health services are severely under-equipped to meet their needs. Uganda, an SSA country, reports 12 to 29% of children presenting mental health symptoms when screened in primary care clinics. There are widespread misconceptions towards mental illness as well as stigmatization of people with mental illnesses in Sub-Saharan Africa countries like Uganda which reports 12 to 29% of children presenting mental health symptoms when screened in primary care clinics. Common misconceptions include fears of contagion as well as perceptions that people are responsible for their illness and are dangerous.
Furthermore, young people are particularly worried about being seen as “crazy” or “mad” by their friends and significant others, which results in little or no intention to seek help. While Ugandan schools use visual messaging and signage to bring awareness about sexual risk behavior and HIV/AIDS knowledge and prevention, no such strategies have been adopted to address mental health related stigma. Since the early 19th century, images have had a deep history that is closely linked to perpetuating stereotypes associated with the portrayal and treatment of mental health related issues. However, when closely developed with the primary audience, images are capable of educating and bringing awareness to complex narratives associated with mental health related challenges.
This interdisciplinary pilot research study explores a three-phased collaborative process involving focus groups and extensive co-creation workshops with children and teachers working in a public primary school in the Masaka region of Uganda to develop culturally relevant visual solutions addressing mental health stigma. This collaboration combines social work’s commitment to mental health intervention research in low-resource communities with communication design’s strength in using design research techniques to address social problems, with the goal of developing stakeholder-informed visuals through a participatory process to improve mental health awareness and decrease stigma.
22 cassette taped interviews with Black residents of Pontiac, Michigan from the mid-1970s
Kimmie Parker Assistant Professor Oakland University
The Pontiac Oral History Archive, housed in Oakland University’s Kresge Library, contains 22 cassette taped interviews with Black residents of Pontiac, Michigan from the mid-1970s. To date, this archive has been largely inaccessible, available only to those who can come to our campus to listen to the cassettes. My collaborator, [name anonymized for peer-review], and I see immense value in this archive and have been working to create a public website to house the recordings, historical photographs, and other related artifacts.
For decades, Pontiac was a vibrant city with one of the largest populations of working-class Black Americans in the US; after the auto industry moved much of its operations away from the city, an already disenfranchised population struggled to move forward. Society then, as today, grappled with racism, racial inequality, socio-economic inequality, and police brutality. The stories on these tapes range from first-hand accounts of the Great Migration to industrial working conditions to racist encounters to social and family life in the 1970s. The voices of everyday people, particularly people of color, often go unheard. The preservation of and accessibility to these important historical accounts are critical as we work towards a more just society.
Since fall of 2021, we have worked on this project in collaboration with members of the Pontiac community and colleagues across our campus. We have obtained funding for the digitization and transcription of the cassette tapes, introduced students and community members to the archive, obtained permissions and made connections with living relatives, and began designing an online archival website. This interdisciplinary and wide-ranging process has become much more than a design project: this work lives at the intersection of design, community activism, historical preservation, and digital humanities. I look forward to sharing our work-in-progress as we strive to equalize access to these important voices.
Visual design education is rapidly shifting from Western and print-centric to diversifying with emerging technology and globalization
Yeohyun Ahn Assistant Professor University of Wisconsin-Madison
Graphic Design has been a predominantly white and European-centric academic area deeply rooted in Bauhaus, a German art school from 1919 to 1933, combining crafts and the fine arts to approach constructive and universal design for mass production. It has dominated modern graphic design for over 100 years. Now visual design education is rapidly shifting from Western and print-centric to diversifying with emerging technology and globalization. This research aims to create original and impactful exhibition design and research opportunities (symposium) for academically underrepresented and marginal graphic design educators in the United States. The study investigates the future of visual design education and research, crossing boundaries among creative coding, 3d printing, Guerrilla projection, speculative design, sound, data visualization, augmented reality with activism, and cultural identity impacted by globalization. It results in an original exhibition design that frames a newly curated exhibition. The curated exhibition invites sixteen outstanding visual design educators of the US who are highly regarded but academically undervalued and depreciated from conservative, homogenous, and print-centric professional graphic design communities. The design methodology, Design Thinking, is employed to create the user-friendly and inclusive interface design for the virtual reality gallery. The virtual exhibition brings global exposure and tap into an extensive network of academically underrepresented graphic design educators and underserved audiences. The exhibition visitors gain new in-person and immersive virtual experiences for evolving graphic design. It incubates new visual design perspectives being open-minded, alternative, diverse, and inclusive visual communication design education, practices, research, and communities of the US.
The Black Experience in Design, is a forthcoming anthology co-authored by Anne H. Berry, Kareem Collie, Peni Laker, Lesley-Ann Noel, Jennifer Rittner and Kelly Walters. Featuring over 50 design contributors, this book centers a range of perspectives, teaching practices, and conversations from a Black/African diasporic lens. Through the voices represented, this text exemplifies the inherently collaborative and multidisciplinary nature of design, providing access to ideas and topics for a variety of audiences, meeting people as they are and wherever they are in their knowledge about design. The aim of this presentation is to share highlights from The Black Experience in Design and demonstrate its impact on current design discourse. Ultimately, The Black Experience in Design serves as both inspiration and a catalyst for the next generation of creative minds tasked with imagining, shaping, and designing our future.
We are moving away from melting pot identity metaphors toward the idea of a rainbow
Colette Gaiter Professor Departments of Africana Studies and Art & Design, University of Delaware
Racial and other identity connotations are essential in design and visual communication analysis. Just as historical and economic conditions contextualize designed objects, omitting identities causes incomplete and biased design history. A look at the designs commissioned for the 2021 Oscars examines how minimizing some designers’ identities when talking about their work creates de-facto hierarchies and inside/outside attitudes toward creators.
Generally, unless a visual communication product is clearly biased in its presentation and intent, embedded social connotations are considered benign. Examining all identity representations is essential for insightful design analysis. In the news coverage examples presented, the Black designer’s heritage is most clearly connected to elements in his work.
“Design Identity Theory” is analogous to applying Critical Race Theory to law practice. Expanding Laswell’s Model of Communication that considers (1) Who (2) Says What (3) In Which Channel (4) To Whom (5) With what effect?, a thorough analysis of “Who” and “To Whom” would include all socially defining identities. Analysis does not automatically imply bias but expands historical and cultural context. Explicitly naming aspects of all designers’ backgrounds deflects stereotyping by foregrounding identity’s complexity.
We are moving away from melting pot identity metaphors toward the seemingly trite but accurate idea of a rainbow, where colors blend but are still individually visible and essential to the entire effect—acknowledging and celebrating difference. “Design Identity Theory” fills in historical gaps, expands culture, and helps build a more equitable society.
A project to improve VA technology for veterans with spinal cord injuries
Sam Anvari Assistant Professor California State University Long Beach
This presentation proposal covers the practical approach and various pedagogical measures taken to form a team of fourteen students and two faculty from Graphic Design and Psychology to improve VA technology for veterans with spinal cord injuries. This multidisciplinary project is ongoing research between California State University Long Beach, the Spinal Cord Injuries and Disorders (SCI/D) Center at the Long Beach VA Hospital, and the device manufacturer, Accessibility Services, Inc. in Florida. The project’s goal is to improve the design usability of the Environmental Control Unit (ECU), which patients with SCI/D use to complete everyday tasks such as making a phone call, calling the nurse, controlling the TV, adjusting the bed, etc. The project started in 2019 by performing heuristic evaluations on the ECU device with a team of seven students and faculty from psychology, health science, and graphic design. Findings from this work identified system elements needing improvement for better user experience and visual interfaces design.
Despite the pandemic and its associated lockdown conditions, the research team successfully transitioned to the project’s next phase, design A/B testing, online. The faculty leaders scheduled virtual weekly meetings with the team and developed an alternative plan to continue the project. In 2020, students worked tirelessly to a digital prototype of the device that is accessible remotely online within the safe space of the home. The ECU device’s online prototype made it possible for the research team to apply design changes and prepare for remote user testing. In the meantime, the research team grew more extensive, with five students from the graphic design program, eight students from the Psychology Human Factors program, and another two students from the university’s undergraduate research opportunity program (UROP). This presentation will discuss various tools and methods for human-centered applied design and networking with the industry.
Some of the most problematic aspects of standard color theory education
Aaron Fine Professor Truman State University
Color theory is often presented as a purely formal matter, with no suggestion that the color we are speaking of might apply to our bodies and all that they entail in terms of race, class, and gender. Despite the availability of focused research on isolated aspects of this problem, and more inclusive chapters being added to standard color theory textbooks, our default mode is to privilege a narrative that invokes the color science of Isaac Newton. We often imply that color wheels, primaries, and secondaries are universally applicable phenomena. But the truth is that each of these is a cultural construct with at best a tenuous connection to the natural laws of physics. And when Winckelmann stated, in his discipline founding writings,that “a beautiful body will, accordingly, be the more beautiful the whiter it is” he made perfectly clear that the more (or less) white bodies he was speaking of were our own.
Drawing on content from my recently published book Color Theory: A Critical Introduction, I will discuss briefly some of the most problematic aspects of standard color theory education and suggest some of the ways we might improve our theory, practice, and pedagogy in this area. Topics include the rise of colorimetry in the mid 20th century, the embrace of spiritual notions about color, and colonialist views of certain cultures being more “colorful” than others. Grounded in scholarly research this presentation is relevant to design theory and pedagogy, but also has implications for creative practice.
How designers can prepare for the next pandemic by looking at it as a human-centered design initiative
Denise Anderson Assistant Professor Michael Graves College, Kean University
Craig Konyk Associate Professor Michael Graves College, Kean University
Kylie Mena Michael Graves College, Kean University
Varrianna Siryon Michael Graves College, Kean University
Humanity will call upon architects and designers to respond to the resulting modified human behaviors and built environment in the post-COVID-19 world. These areas include the need for flexibility of public spaces and interior layouts, rethinking product designs, and strategies for informational campaigns and digital safety platforms using an integrated design approach.
In spring 2021, a team of interdisciplinary students and faculty at the Michael Graves College were awarded a grant to explore how designers can prepare for the next pandemic by looking at it as a human-centered design initiative. The objective was to utilize the expertise areas of Architecture, Graphic Design, Industrial Design, and Interior Design to research the pandemic’s effects on public spaces and propose design strategies to improve communities. For example, as part of a university-wide initiative on pandemic research, students proposed design solutions for the safe opening of Kean’s childcare center.
In the summer, as the world managed and changed due to the Delta variant and the anti- vaccine movement, further investigations into two areas hit hardest by the pandemic were explored: education and mental health. Extended research was conducted on special needs children and the increased anxiety that led to panic buying.
The presentation will examine the interdisciplinary design thinking process and solutions for the childcare center. It will present methodology soliciting support in undergraduate and graduate courses to identify pandemic-related problems and solutions. Furthermore, it will answer how design and architecture can help envision what communities need to manage and thrive in a post-COVID-19 environment.
In Pakistan, 66% of households have at least one teenage consumer
Nida Ijaz Lecturer Ph.D. Scholar (Fine Arts) in Research Center for Art & Design, Institute of Design & Visual Arts, Lahore College for Women University, Pakistan
Advertisement is one of the major factors for a company to make it successful, unbeatable, and unforgettable. At the same time advertisement can play this role completely contrary ailment and advertisers know how to sell the product. They attach the product to the emotions, bonding, and happiness of a family or an individual.
TVCs code messages for consumers as it is essential to monitor the delivery of the coded message and what is the impact on the young consumers after listening and seeing these advertisements, which leads to devastating behavior in the lifestyle of young consumers.
The content analysis method has been used on dialogues of TVCs which has been on-air in the local channels of Pakistan. We surveyed those brands’ advertisements that target children as their consumers to find what they feel about those advertisements and what message they perceived from them. As a reference, we discussed the Lifebouy shampoo, hand wash, and Horlicks advertisements as they are FMCG and targets young consumers from the age of 4 to 11 years.
In Pakistan, 66% of houses have at least one teenager as a buyer and they cannot handle the increasing blitz of advertising. Young minds cannot understand the meaning of advertisements and can easily be manipulated. This research reveals how showcasing the bully’s behavior and portraying negative messages can affect the child’s life. Moreover, how impulsive exposure to advertisements is making them more materialistic.
Derived from aboriginal and native traditions, circles bring people together
Dave Pabellon Assistant Professor Columbia College Chicago
This presentation explores the use of peace circles in graphic design curricula as a pedagogical framework to conduct a graphic design seminar (F’19) and a graphic design studio course (F’21), both with an exhibition design component that involved student design contributions.
Derived from aboriginal and native traditions, circles bring people together in a way that creates respect, intimacy, goodwill, belonging, generosity, mutuality, and reciprocity. Two groups have made profound contributions to practices in the field – the First Nations people of Canada, and the Maori of New Zealand, by using peace circles as a means to manage conflict resolution in their communities as an alternative to the retributive criminal justice system practiced in the United States. In an academic setting, peace circles in the classroom become a tool to level the faculty-to-student power dynamic by creating a non-hierarchal environment. By doing so, greater participant engagement is achieved by welcoming the sharing of human experiences, positive and negative, without judgment. Over time trust is built to transform the studio into a safe space of understanding and learning by stressing empathy and the power of active listening. Examples of circle practice, as a community-building tool from peer institutions such as Dominican University (IL), non-profit sectors like Precious Blood Ministries of Reconciliation, and community-based arts organizations like Prison + Neighborhood Arts Project will be referenced.
In the 2019 course, students from the Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) learned about the injustices of long-term prison sentencing in the state of Illinois by digesting assigned texts, visual responses in the form of exhibition artwork produced by the incarcerated, and films related to the subject. Circles, lead by formerly incarcerated circle keepers and BIPOC faculty, became the purposefully slow-paced, self-reflective format of discussion and interpretation of the media mentioned above. Peace circles were also used in the planning and refinement processes of new work that was included in the closing exhibition. This presentation argues for the use of peace circles to encourage deeper human-centered relationships with students by supporting discussion, discourse, and critical thought through self-reflection and immersive storytelling. Using the exit interviews supplied by the students a comparison analysis is shared showing the impact peace circles have when utilized in a design studio environment.