Fighting Poverty with Passion
Our summer public interest design fellowship just ended last Friday, which feels both relieving and a little bittersweet. On the one hand, I’m excited to have time to dedicate to other projects (namely finishing up the design of the annual report, and helping with the research/organization of the fall exhibit about affordable housing, The Cost of Home). The celebration was a blast, especially hearing how the fellows, in their own words, had changed their thinking/frameworks and had grown over such a short period of time. (And, not gonna lie, super awesome to get back into screen printing again – more on that later.) On the other hand, I have five fingers (thank you, Groucho Marx). No, but really, on the other hand, it was pretty awesome to have a group of peers to discuss the role, if any, design should play in remedying (or making less bad, as my old politics prof would say), such as global poverty, mass incarceration, police brutality, climate change (I could go on but I won’t, for the sake of brevity and practicing not going on tangents).
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how graphic design and art can be used to “solve” (remedy might be a better word) the aforementioned super tangly, historical injustices. A couple weeks or months ago, I was talking to a friend about this and I thought he had a neat outlook: basically that all skills/jobs/disciplines are just tools, each with their own shortcomings and advantages. Rather than a question of what’s the “best” tool for a particular problem, in order to solve any trenchant problems, you have to challenge it from a thousand different angles and tools and perspectives. You (and by “you,” I actually mean millions of people) need grassroots change and organization, diplomatic partnerships, local and national legislation, etc. His thoughts made me feel really hopeful.