August 12, 2009
Metropolitan State University of Denver
Students learn to design for social change
Communication design major Joe Marsh, third from left, mentors high school students Josh Tucci, 17, left, and Allison Grzybowski, 16, as they learned how to prepare a design for a billboard on the theme of tolerance.
Seven Metropolitan State College of Denver communication design students recently completed a nine-week summer project mentoring more than 15 underserved high school students, helping them turn their thoughts into art.
In “Create! Don’t Hate,” Metro State students and professors helped youth use design to communicate their ideas, exhibit their potential and take action in their communities. Built around the theme of tolerance, "Create! Don’t Hate" is a project of ArtLab, a yearlong internship program that utilizes the creative process as a means of youth development. It is run by the Denver-based PlatteForum in coordination with the national organization Design Ignites Change.
The culmination of the project will be the creation of billboards addressing social justice. The pieces go on exhibition at PlatteForum Aug. 24-27, and the billboards will be posted around the city of Denver in 2010, compliments of Lamar Outdoor Advertising.
Joe Marsh, a 30-year-old communication design senior, found the mentoring project to be a fun and eye-opening experience. “It’s been great. I really enjoyed it. With my two kids, I’m amazed at the depth of understanding they have about issues out there. They blow me away. It’s a special group of kids that are really plugged in.”
A collaborative drawing is displayed on a computer screen during “Create! Don’t Hate,” a youth mentoring project undertaken by Metro State communication design students this summer.
ArtLab is an intensive year-round internship and apprentice program for underserved high school youth. They receive a paid stipend to instill responsibility, reward achievement and inspire new confidence and encourage goals for participation. During the summer, the ArtLab interns spend nine weeks at 20 hours a week on the project. Miles LaGree, 16, a junior at East High School who likes acting, poetry and photography, is participating in his first program this summer and says, “I will apply again and tell my friends.”
According to Meagan Brncick, PlatteForum education director, the project is a “really good fit (with the College). Metro State students will have work to show what they’ve done with students. They’ll do it side by side.
“It’s the first time for many, doing graphic arts. It’s a brand new way of learning design work,” she adds.
“These (Metro State) students have really taken to it. Taking all their knowledge and activating it,” says Visiting Professor of Communication Design Peter Reginald Bergman, who, along with Associate Professor of Communication Design Lisa Abendroth, has been working with the Metro State mentors and their mentees.
The project provides the type of inspiration that artists need, says participant Eddie Orozco, 18, a graduate of North High School. “I have a lot of faith in the arts.”
Orozco has been with PlatteForum for three years and now that he has graduated, he plans to stay on as a member of its board of directors. Orozco will become a Metro State freshman on Aug. 17 and plans to major in English. With his experience from PlatteForum, he plans to have several roles in the arts.
“Thanks to Art Lab, I will be a writer, doing film script writing, dramatic writing,” he says. “It takes skill to write something deep.”