KCAI students receive awards from national initiative Design Ignites Change

5 March 2010

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (March 5, 2010) — Design Ignites Change, a collaboration between Adobe Youth Voices and Worldstudio, announced the inaugural 2009 Implementation Award winners: PieLab’s “Pecans!” and Kansas City Art Institute’s “A Book by its Cover: Reading Stereotypes” and “Freewall: Making Space for Diversity.”

The biannual award program recognizes exceptional design proposals that exhibit a powerful and provocative solution to a pressing social problem and grants their creators the financial support to realize those visions. Reviewed by an independent committee of creative professionals, business, civic and nonprofit leaders, the submissions are evaluated on concept, viability and potential for impact as well as a detailed plan for timely execution.

Ramzy Masri, a graphic design senior at KCAI, received a second place prize of $2,400 for his project “A Book by its Cover: Reading Stereotypes,” which aims to uproot racism by fostering positive, meaningful connections between Arab and non-Arab students. Set between two schools, the Islamic School of Greater Kansas City and Garfield Elementary, also in Kansas City, this pen-pal-like book exchange project begins by opening up a conversation about prejudice that evolves into an exchange involving students’ experiences and culminates in a revelation about identity.

KCAI graphic design senior Logan Smith was awarded third place for his “Freewall: Making Space for Diversity,” which offers a proactive answer to bullying. This project repurposes empty wall space at Center Alternative School into a personal expression of the student body. Each student is invited to design a warm-colored sticker around the theme of something he or she loves, and then to post it to a 5-foot by 5-foot cool-colored patchwork display. The collaboration will transform and grow to feature 288 unique designs when complete. The award of $250 will be used to cover the cost of supplies.

“It’s going to be an amazing learning experience to step beyond the classroom with these projects, which are context-specific and require face-to-face contact and audience response,” said Tyler Galloway, assistant professor of design at KCAI, who was integral to the college’s Design Ignites Change effort. “It's great validation for the work. They are examples of design that goes beyond the artifact itself.”

The grand prize award goes to “Pecans!,” a budding pecan product enterprise led by low-income youth in Hale County, Ala. Recent design school graduates are contributing their energy and talents to PieLab, a community design center in downtown Greensboro, to mentor 16- to 24-year-old high school dropouts participating in the Department of Labor’s YouthBuild Program. The $12,000 award serves as the capital to get the business off the ground, in turn providing the youth a chance to expand their skill sets: everything from perfecting the best pecan brittle recipe to developing a brand identity and market strategy, all while completing their high school diplomas or GEDs.

About Design Ignites Change

Design Ignites Change engages high school and college students in multidisciplinary design and architecture projects that address pressing social issues. Participants are encouraged to apply design thinking — the combination of creativity and executable actions — to problems that exist in their own communities. For more information, visit http://designigniteschange.org.

About the Kansas City Art Institute

The Kansas City Art Institute is a private, independent four-year college of art and design awarding the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with majors in animation, art history, ceramics, digital filmmaking, fiber, graphic design, interdisciplinary arts, painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture and studio art with an emphasis on creative writing. KCAI also hosts a free public lecture series — “Current Perspectives” — and a range of public programs including exhibitions, events and partnerships in the community to benefit the general public as well as evening, weekend and summer classes in art, design, multimedia studies and desktop publishing for children, youth and adults. For more information, visit KCAI on the Web at www.kcai.edu.