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intent of “This is My Philly” was threefold: to promote the power of images and
the written word, to promote art and design as a viable career option to inner-city elementary school students and to promote diversity in the field of
graphic design. AIGA Philadelphia and Spells Writing Lab drew upon their complimentary creative skills to celebrate Philadelphia,
a city of many neighborhoods. “This is My Philly” sought to engage and motivate participants by
focusing on Philadelphia’s positive qualities, as well as the responsibility we all
have in maintaining and improving our community.
For the workshops, graphic design students from design programs at local colleges were paired with
children ages 8 to 12. Under the guidance of AIGA Philadelphia and Spells
Writing Lab, participating children created poems and illustrated them with
collages that showcased “their Philadelphia.” An important component of the
project was the use of a college or university venue rather than a community
arts venue. It elevated the status of the initiative, introducing the
children to the possibility of college and, hopefully, art and design as
serious career choices.
Reaching our audience was more challenging than we
anticipated. We worked with Spells Writing Lab to promote the project, since
they have an existing network of children and parents. Flyers were made
available at their inner-city location and the event was posted on their
website. Although many of the elementary school students we
attracted through the website post were racially diverse, the majority had already
participated in various enrichment opportunities and had access to private,
magnet or successful charter schools.
One possible solution we came up with to address this issue was “adopting” a school in our target
socioeconomic demographic, which might result in the participation of children who are
less served. Another possible solution was to do the workshop on location,
but we didn’t want to lose the experience of having children working in college
classrooms with college kids, which was an exciting opportunity for them.
Writing Lab began each workshop by
directing the children in a brainstorming session to explore their favorite
community experiences through the use of the five senses. The children were
first directed to identify something they see, feel, taste, hear and smell in their community. Then, with
the help of their college buddies, they proceeded to draw a map highlighting
these special quirks of their surroundings. Once these maps were created, the
pairs each made a list of related words and descriptive phrases, developing their ideas into a poem.
Philadelphia then delivered a brief presentation on artists who utilize outlines and mixed media collage, such as Pablo
Picasso and Eric Carle. With the
guidance of the college students, the children created collages of their
poems. The afternoon came to a close with parents, teachers, kids and college
students sharing and discussing the work.
consider the project a success based on the positive feedback we received from
the participating children and college students, and from our partner, Spells
Writing Lab. Through creative dialogue, participants were able to share the
pride and excitement they feel for their city. The college students were
challenged to motivate and mentor the children, while the children learned to
articulate their thoughts through design, writing and art. In summary, the partnership
between AIGA Philadelphia and Spells Writing Lab, as well as the partnership between college students and elementary school children, successfully showcased the Philadelphia design community.
The end result of the workshop was a tangible takeaway in the form of a poem and
collage. The pieces created
at two of our workshops were showcased in an exhibition at Widener Memorial Foundation
Gallery at Moore College of Art & Design in May of 2011. Principals, teachers
and parents were invited to a reception celebrating the young creators. One collage was even published in a local
magazine, Conspire. We hope that
by viewing the results of the workshops, elementary school administrators will gain an appreciation of the importance of art programs in cognitive
development, particularly as ever-increasing budget cuts threaten our schools.
initial goal of the project was to design and print a book documenting the
workshop results, with the intent of giving the book to each participant. Although the design is well
underway, funds for printing still need to be raised. Another plan that is currently on hold, due to our already-overburdened volunteers, is an ongoing online exhibition of
the work generated in the workshops. We believe such an exhibition
would help promote our chapter, as well as both groups of students.
has also been some discussion of expanding this program to include high school
students. In that scenario, the participating students would work with volunteer arts and design professionals rather than college students. Additionally, the Education Committee of AIGA
Philadelphia has had ongoing discussions about the general notion of “mentor up/mentor down,” as our
goal is to build educational programs that connect the talents and experiences
of different generations.
DesignEd K12 is a movement to inspire and sustain design education programs for elementary, middle and high school students—instilling creative
confidence and a design thinking mindset at a young age through hands-on
experiences in creative problem solving.
Section: Tools and Resources -
DesignEd K12, education
Learn more about each jurors’ thoughts on this 2013 “Justified” selection.
Section: Why Design -
This webcast is part of the “INitiative” webcast series, which offers diverse and thoughtful presentations by influential in-house designers.
EducationSuperHighway, a nonprofit organization with roots in the high-tech industry, was founded to address major weaknesses in the internet infrastructure in American schools.
Section: Why Design -
Competition, DesignEd K12, Justified, education
The story behind smashLAB’s website redesign for the Vancouver Aquarium. The aim was not only to increase attendance, but to foreground the organization’s mission-focused initiatives in conservation, education and research.
Section: Why Design -
Design for Good, advertising, information design, nonprofit, ux design, web design, social responsibility, sustainability, digital media
Young & Smylie Licorice
External Resources (cont.)
Mellow Mushroom Website