Still Standing: The Abyssinian Meeting House Story Archive
I was commissioned to design the exhibition identity and pull-quote posters for The Abyssinian Meeting House Story Archive audio exhibition. For the past three years, students in MECA's Storytelling 101 class have collaborated with The Abyssinian Meeting House with students interviewing African American elders in Maine to create an archive of stories.
The Abyssinian Meeting House functioned as a cultural center and a leading contributor to The Underground Railroad. It was important to recognize the iconic building itself, incorporating it's original design in the exhibition identity.
Opened, First Friday Artwalk, February 2, 2018 On view January 24—February 24, 2018, Artists at Work Project Space at Maine College of Art (Portland, Maine)
This project was a collaborative effort to create the brand identity for a new restaurant in Glastonbury, Connecticut. Built inside an old tannery building, the aim was to tie the history of the space to the Beamhouse identity, with a secondary identity for their tap room. Additional tool illustrations were created for merchandising purposes.
For my undergraduate thesis ay Maine College of Art, it was necessary for me to create work which considers the journey I had taken as a non-traditional student, and to reflect on the learnings I acquired as a culmination of my studies. My work progressed significantly at MECA, especially thanks to experiences in my sophomore year which centered around critically thinking about my approach to design and art-making. I began shedding several bad habits, most of which focused on making something I thought other people would think is “cool,” for lack of a better word. I shifted focus inward, analyzing actions, motives, and eventually emotional baggage. I stopped making work I thought other people would like and started making work about me. This lead to an investigation of how I learn about myself and manage emotional history through my art-making practice. To build on this introspective moment in my development as an artist, I decided to investigate how art can be used to investigate oneself—how the different languages (or, mediums) artists use translate their ideas through a particular medium. This investigation led me to create this book. Through interviews I conducted with six graduating artists at MECA, I explored what artists learn about themselves from their art-making practices and processes—how visualizing and re-contextualizing internal processes and moments of self-discovery aids in resolving internal conflict and emotional baggage. I realized this investigation through the juxtaposition of image and text in this book which I designed for my thesis. Using my skills as a designer, photographer, and expert listener with a passion for learning about others through their journeys, this book is filled with photographs and interviews I have conducted with artists at meca when I asked them about the space they create work in, what inspires them, what languages (mediums) they choose to speak in, and what they have learned about themselves on their paths to self-discovery.
As a selected member of the Curatorial Team for the Maine College of Art 2017 BFA Thesis Exhibition, I designed the identity, title wall, and wayfinding. The use of arrow-shaped floor vinyl was employed to aid viewers in navigating the entire exhibition which spanned four floors and included works by 100 graduating BFA students. This arrow shape was mirrored in the concentric circles employed in the logo, representing the students congregating to MECA from all over the world. In addition to my role as designer, I shared the responsibility of curating the senior thesis exhibition, as well as assisted the Marketing and IT Departments with the Online Thesis website.
Book Cover: Re-Design
As a half-semester long assignment in the design class Core Studio 3 (MECA), students were tasked with creating new covers for our favorite book—I chose Contact, by Carl Sagan. When I was younger, I gained a passion for science and exploration by watching Sagan's television program Cosmos, eventually reading his books. The task was to find the simplest way to convey the main themes of the book such as communication, hidden meanings, as well as exploring one's self and the universe. I experimented with various visuals and techniques, beginning with type only, and eventually incorporating color, texture, layering, and imagery while making sure to consider hierarchy and figure ground. While making various iterations, we paused at one point to help each other with fresh ideas by making our own versions of another classmate's book. I traded with a classmate who was working on making covers for the Greek Myths and designed a modern interpretation by incorporating the title into an Anthora coffee cup I made from scratch.
Click here for an expanded view (GIF) of the process along the way to the final product, as well as many of my notes and sketches.
As a assignment in the design class Advanced Typography (MECA), we were tasked with designing a book of collected short stories and poetry submitted by the Creative Writing class. This book was a design exercise in conveying overall tone and intention of the collected works. Able to chose my own title for the book, I referenced a line from William Shakespeare’s play, Merchant of Venice. The title warns of the damning nature of a vengeful, bloodthirstiness, and its inflexible behavior. The emotionally charged colorforms splayed across the introductions to each writer’s sections, combined with the rough hand lettering, juxtaposing the emotionally charged nature of the works against the exacting precision and restraint within the duel columns of type—every page forcing the reader’s eyes to return to the top again and repeat the same motion as they gather more information to process and inform, before moving on to the conclusion.
The Printmaking Department at Maine College of Art acquired several incomplete drawers of woodblock type in 2014 and wanted to increase the number of completed sets for student use. As a half-semester long assignment in the design class Type Studies (MECA), I participated in a collaboration to take the available letters and complete the sets. Divided into four groups (one for each incomplete set), my group focused on the largest typeface which we came to call “Plywood Bold.” Each group first printed the available letters, scaned the prints, used Adobe Illustrator to correct any anomalies, and then to design the remaining letters using the language of the existing set. We finished the letters from these files using a CNC programable router to cut the new woodblock type out of plywood, which gave us the idea to name the four sets, Plywood Bold, Plywood Regular, Plywood Condensed, and Plywood Serif. I was involved with each step of creating Plywood Bold. While students were on spring break, Taylor McElhinny ‘18, Steve Bowden (an Adjunct Professor assisting with the class), and I worked on creating the actual woodblock type by making the type-high (0.91 inches) boards out of plywood, programming the CNC machine, and cutting them. This process took the majority of the remaining semester to complete.
For more about the process of this project, click here.
The original woodblock type.
Print of the original type.
The completed and corrected set.
The type being cut by the CNC.
Plywood Bold letters before printing.
Comparison print of Plywood Bold (using only the same letters as the original print).
First printing of the numbers from the Plywood Bold set.
POLLINATE explores the communication of declining bee populations through a call to action using disruptive marketing. The design appropriates language of propaganda posters from World War II and incorporates a satyrical view by characterizing bees as too lazy to continue to pollinate. Stickers were placed in locations of high foot-traffic and directly on relevant foods such as fruit or nuts. I also created a series of theoretical mock-ups for how the campaign might progress using social media and apparel.
For more about the process of this project, click here.