Seasonal Musings and Traveling Images

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October 20, 2008

As we ready for the great intensity of midterm reviews at Art Center–seven full weeks into our fall academic term–I wanted to briefly revisit early September and note one of the recent highlights of the Designmatters program: an exhibition and workshop of student work “Images for Human Rights,” celebrating the Declaration of Human Rights, at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris during the 61st Annual DPI/NGO Conference: “Reaffirming Human Rights For All(September 3-5).

The French have a seasonal term I am most fond of, la rentrée, which literally signifies “re-entry,” and marks the back-to-school and back-to-work return to new productive beginnings, following what remains for many Europeans–the sacred month of August summer vacation. Growing up in Francophile Europe for some of my teen years, I remember well the pervading optimism and vigor that this moment of the year brought about. And so it was a thrill to be in Paris during this typical season for renewal and re-engagement with the lead Illustration faculty of the project, Esther Pearl Watson and Martha Rich, to install the exhibition and share our educational process with more than 2,000 NGOs from around the world that viewed the exhibition in one of the main halls of UNESCO, La Salle des Pas Perdus.

The visibility the work was granted by this venue, secured through the efforts of Designmatters liaison to the UN, alumna Gala Narezo (Photography, 2001) is a gift that keeps on giving as attested by a handful of prestigious follow-up requests. Patrick L. Sciarratta, Executive Director of the NGO Friendship Ambassadors Foundation, will be highlighting the work as part of the upcoming December 10 celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Declaration, at the Westchester Chapter of the UN Association. Two of the posters in the exhibition, Benny Chu’s “Human rights=Equality,” and Cindy Chen’s “Rights for All,” were requested by the UK UN Association Chapter for their upcoming magazine issue; the organization will be featuring Benny’s piece on the cover and Cindy’s as a special spread. Finally, Paris-based alumnus William Ismael (Graphic Design, 2007) will be designing several of the key visual components of the upcoming UNESCO International Conference on Education to be held in Geneva in November. This project commission is the direct result of the great impression the quality and impact the Art Center work made on UNESCO staff.

As this body of work travels the world, it is fitting that it would also return to Pasadena. Don’t miss the second venue of “Images for Human Rights“; the exhibition will conclude the year with a month-long run at the Pasadena Central Library, December 10 through January 5, as part of the city-wide celebration of the Declaration.