The college sophomores in Professor Rosario Martinez-Cañas class have found a way to integrate their educational pursuit of art with this year's presidential election.
At New World School of the Arts, Martinez-Cañas's Communications Design II students took part in AIGA's Get Out the Vote initiative, where they were asked to design nonpartisan posters and videos to engage the public and promote voter turnout for the general election.
The AIGA, the professional association for design, has 66 chapters with over 20,000 members. The only requirement for submissions to Get Out the Vote is to be a member of the association; NWSA is part of the Miami chapter.
"It's good for students to understand the power they have in what they do and how they can affect change," Martinez-Cañas said.
This is the second time her class has engaged in the project, the first being 2008's presidential election. The response was so positive that she decided to continue the initiative as a means of helping students become actively involved in their community as well as build portfolios as graphic designers.
"It's a good way of understanding what I'm teaching them is real and it's what they'll experience in the real world, and it will help them build an online presence," Martinez-Cañas said.
Three of her students submitted posters that will be featured as part of the Get Out the Vote virtual gallery where anyone can check out the submissions as well as print out and
distribute them. AIGA is also hosting an exhibit at its headquarters in New York.
Student Anthony Anaya submitted a poster from a perspective many of us forget about, the homeless. "He's targeting an audience that is affected very much by what happens in politics," Martines-Cañas said.
In doing research for his project, student Anthony Anaya discovered that a homeless person can designate a bench as his/her home in order to vote.
His artist statement says, "Registering to vote without a fixed address is definitely a roadblock to homeless and low income people. But the law states that, 'A homeless person should be able to vote even if they don't live in a traditional dwelling.' You can register even if you are living on the street.''
Student Junli Kato submitted two different posters. One focused on those who have cast an opinion without having first cast a ballot.
"She targeted her peers; usually they complain a lot but they don't really participate in the [voter] process," Martinez-Cañas said.
Kato's artist statement, "If you didn't vote, how can you justify your complaints? Stop criticizing the government and do something about it by voting, at least then you have earned your right to complain about it."
Her second piece is a call to action. Her artist statement: "We can't wait around and hope that magic will solve everything. Your vote is the rabbit, and the magic trick, pulled from the hat."
Get Out the Vote received more than 200 submissions from young artists exercising their creative voices in hopes of mobilizing a national cause. The New York exhibit will take place at AIGA's National Design Center, right on Fifth Avenue, which will run from Wednseday, October 3 through Friday, November 30. It is free and open to the public.
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