In the Spring of 2019, students in the Creative Worlds explored concepts of community engagement within the practices of art and design through a semester-long collaboration with Columbia College Chicago archives. Heidi Marshall and Dominic Rossetti taught students how to “read an image” with posters from two of the archives’ historical collections: The Chicago Anti-Apartheid Movement (link), and Columbia students respond to Kent State. In order to interpret these The students read texts to consider the role of art in two of the most powerful events of the 20th Century: South Africa’s Anti-Apartheid Movement, and the response to the killings of students by National Guard at Kent State.

Also during the semester, students were joined by artist, Regin Igloria, a socially-engaged, Chicago-based artist who uses zines and artists’ books to engage communities in constructing their own creative narratives and contribute them to a moveable and expanding library. Students used the technique of mind mapping to consider all of the themes of the works they reviewed at archives, and created one-page zines to creatively interpret their meaning and impact. These works will be exhibited at the Read/Write Library in Chicago, IL.

According to the students of this course, art’s main role in social change is to bring awareness and spark discussion through powerful symbols, ideas, and iconography. The poster artworks in these collections are a record of the power of art to fight for human rights and dignity.

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