Spotlighting Interactive and Graphic Design

By Marah Morrison

The University & College Designers Association (UCDA) is hosting their 13th annual UCDA Design Education Summit: Good Design works May 21 to May 22.

The two-day summit is open to UCDA members and non-members, design educators and practitioners and students. The McDonough Museum of Art is offering space for the keynote speaker(s), and presentation and exhibition space.

Tadson Bussey, the executive director of UCDA, said the summit is great for the local area because it showcases not only the town, but also the university as well. He said to be able to showcase the student work and what Youngstown is doing with The City of You is a great benefit.

“You don’t need to be in New York, Chicago, L.A. or even Cleveland to do this,” Bussey said. “These discussions are happening anywhere and everywhere.”

Bussey said bringing these folks together to talk about the topics relevant in design education today, and to be able to offer opportunities for professional development and participation is great for the local area.

RJ Thompson, the program chair and an assistant professor in the department of art at Youngstown State University, has been a presenter at the past few design education summit events. He said he wanted to host the exhibition this year at YSU.

“I approached the leaders of UCDA and said, ‘hey, we got something we can work with here,’” Thompson said. “The theme of the conference is Good Design Works, so it’s all about demonstrating how graphic design can be used as a conduit for positive, social cultural change.”

Thompson said between 100 and 120 people from across the country will be at the two-day summit. He said they will all be presenting on different topics of how design changed their communities, cultures or something on a societal level.

“The opening is Monday night, the 21st, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., which is the first night of the conference,” Thompson said. “We’re going to be able to bring in all of these design influencers, and then house them at the McDonough in this great example of how design is changing things.”

Thompson said by bringing about 120 people to Youngstown, economic development will be spurring. He said they will be able to see the exhibition and the connectivity between the university and the city.

“We effectively are a model for how other communities can do this,” Thompson said.

Michelle Nelson, a full-time professor in the department of art at YSU, will also be a presenter at the national summit. She said the goals of the conference is about social interaction and activism. Her topic this year will be 20 Years of Social Cause in the Classroom.

“It’s wonderful for it to come to YSU,” Nelson said. “We’ve actually had a history of social exhibits happening at the McDonough, so this kind of continues the history.”

Nelson said it’s important for students to understand that design is not just client work they should get back to their communities. She said design is something that she has always been passionate about.

“Younger audiences are the way that we can change the world,” Nelson said. “I think Youngstown specifically is really interested in social activism and awareness.”

Nelson said she knows a lot of former YSU students are planning to come to the summit. She said it’s going to be amazing for the Youngstown area to have a buzz about something Youngstown is good at.