BMORE Than The Story: Runner Up, Design Education Initiative Award
Core77 Design Awards 2017
The death of Freddie Gray and his treatment by police sparked anger, protest, and violence in Baltimore during April 2015. National and local media implicated area youth in the crime and destruction, whether they committed it or not. Their overriding narrative was pejorative and full of scorn. The students at Augusta Fells Savage Institute of Visual Arts (AFSIVA), a public high school in West Baltimore, as well as those attending nearby schools, lost control of how they wanted to be defined and regarded. The negative messages lowered the spirit of an already struggling community. To address this, we created BMORE Than The Story, a collaboration between AFSIVA students and graphic design seniors at the University of Maryland College Park (UMD). Through this project we sought to leverage art and design to help these students regain their narrative and empower them with how their artistic talents might create positive change in their community. We wanted the youth to be able to tell their side of the story in ways that were authentic to them.
These students worked together to create an exhibition that addressed police brutality, disenfranchisement, structural racism, stereotyping, violence, and the one-sided media portrayal during the 2015 Baltimore Uprising. To decide how they want to represent these issues, the students had to engage each other in open dialogue about topics that many adults are reticent to discuss. They crafted compelling messages and objects and created participatory elements to invite visitors into conversation about these topics.
The Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture hosted the exhibit April through September 2016. In addition, the AFSIVA students performed for the exhibit opening and the museum hosted a series of programming events that gathered other youth to share their stories about critical community issues as well. In addition, local and international media outlets showcased the exhibit in their broadcasts.
In exit interviews, the high school project participants spoke of how the project gave them a sense of agency to address the violence in their communities, how they learned how to employ their artistic skills to advocate for the change they wish to see, and how they feel less isolated and alone in their struggle for this change because of the collaborative efforts of the college students. The exhibit and its high-profile venue served to validate the high school students’ experiences and foster youth dialogue about their struggles in Baltimore. ASFIVA students who had not been a part of the project talked about the positive aspects the project yielded for their school as a whole. The college students learned how to co-design with a community different from their own and how to unpack wicked problems and divisive issues. This project enabled an underrepresented community an opportunity to tell their story, validated their struggles and experiences, and empowered them through design and creative making.
Read the whole article here: http://designawards.core77.com/Design-Education-Initiative/64761/BMORE-Than-The-Story
BMORE Than A Story was proudly supported by the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation.