This section shares works by MFA students and alumni.
Play and learn with nature, 2014
My childhood in South Korea was filled with nature. I can still recall how fragrant trees in the backyard mingled with the smells of delicious food in the kitchen, such as my favorite vegetable pancake that my grandmother prepared with vegetables grown in her garden. Many Korean mothers like me remain fascinated by playing with nature. When we were growing up we didn’t have many toys so we had to use our imagination and find toys in nature. Then it was only natural that children, thought creatively and would play with solely their imagination. Today, many urban children including my own, do not have opportunities to play outdoors away from modern distractions like TV, videos, smart phones, and computers. Children spend more time with their electronic media than they do playing outside-experiencing a new world with nature and mingling with friends to learn social skills. Screen time has replaced play time in nature. Being disconnected from nature and absorbed in electronic media is killing our children’s creative ability. In this creative project, I use design methods to create products, experiences, processes, and systems that explore ways to promote children’s interaction with nature and ways families can live in a nature-friendly environment. Taking inspiration from camping and the outdoors, the resulting nature kids café “Play and Learn with Nature” creates a sense of camping that provides an environment where parents and children can be connected and interact with each other through preparing and eating food in a natural environment. Overall, this creative project is meant to suggest solutions for children and parents whose lives lack nature-friendliness, improve people’s lives, and families’ respect for nature.
Joungyun Choi received her MFA from UF and her PhD in Design from University of Minnesota. She is currently an assistant professor at South Dakota State University.
An Ideal University Life, 2013
Having been studying in both China and the US, I experienced two different cultures and thus two different value systems. According to my experience and observation of Chinese college life, a lot of students were and are in a state of bewilderment. Once they enter college, they are no longer solely focused on the Entrance Exam and, without a plan for future directions, become lost and bewildered. Many lose their interest in studying or aspirations in life. They become apathetic about many things, such as self-realization, knowledge-seeking, or social accountability and many thus simply follow trends, doing things that they have to do, are told to do, or follow what others are doing. In this project, I explore how concepts, strategies, forms and methods of graphic design can be used to explore and to communicate questions about values to Chinese college students. This includes the values they hold and new values that they are exposed to, and will be mainly narrowed down to self-development and social responsibility. My goal is to develop their empathy and awareness for active and critical thinking, to communicate messages that have long-standing influence on them, and to empower them for a more meaningful college life, both to themselves and to others.
50/50: Finding Myself withing Two Cultures, 2013
Growing up in Miami, Florida, I always felt like I did not belong. As a second-generation American, born in America with Cuban parents, I felt I was neither Cuban nor American. While in Miami, Cuba was present everyday in the home, at school, and at play. I was surrounded by people like me, but the feeling of otherness was always there. When I moved away, it became more evident because I didn’t have like people around me. I realized just how Cuban I was. As I grew older, I longed for a stronger connection to my Cuban heritage. I have looked inward to my experiences to understand what it means to have two identities, how my identities were formed, and why it is so important to me. I employed auto-ethnography and ethnographic methods to explore identity, hybridity, memories, and place. I conducted interviews with Cuban-Americans and talked about their experiences and how they perceive their identity. These interviews were very helpful in validating my feelings and brought into focus my upbringing and place. After conducting the interviews and telling my own personal stories, I realized the power of storytelling and how it can create cultural empathy. For my creative project I designed an autobiographical book describing my experiences growing up in Miami and how these experiences and the environment made me who I am, both Cuban and American. The structure of the book will be, in essence, a book within a book, where the main focus or story will be my personal narrative, but within it will be stories revealed during the interviews. As designer as author and through visual storytelling, I hope to gain understanding and acceptance, and start a dialogue about identity and what it means to be American.
Myda is an Assistant Professor at University of West Georgia.
Urban Genes : Embrace Local Culture in Urban Space, 2015
Urban Genes, a creative project in lieu of thesis, was prompted by my observation of the endless online arguments about the many dietary habits, dialects, and customs in China. They exemplified not only people’s attachment to local culture, but exposed their concern that it would fade away, eclipsed by the rapid changes of cities in China. This is, in part, because, today, we are seeing more urban development and migration occur than ever before. City dwellers hardly have time to notice their urban spaces while they are kept constantly busy with their faster pace of living and working. Meanwhile, these changes begin to erode our rich cultural traditions and sense of local identity. In this project, I explored ways to identify signifiers of local culture in urban spaces and created a system for participants to contribute to the larger project so that they, and others, might understand, appreciate, and embrace local culture — in essence, as we begin to map urban genes.
After working in the US after graduation, Fuer is a designer at IBM, Shanghai.
12 x 12, 2012
In this creative project I explored the research question, “How to innovate the culture of the traditional Chinese Zodiac in the context of present Chinese society?” This question was explored in two stages: 1) formal explorations and revisions of the signs of the Chinese Zodiac using a contemporary lens, and 2) creating a new visual language to integrate the Chinese and Western Zodiac signs. This project began as a way to explore the popularity of the Western Zodiac (signs and signification) with Chinese youth, who seemed to abandon the ancient Chinese forms in favor of a system imported from the west. Although my initial interests were in cultural preservation, researches and creative activities resulted in the creation of a hybrid contemporary visual language that integrates the Chinese and Western to appeal to a popular audience of young urban Chinese people. The resulting 144 hybrid symbol system, known as 12X12, are applied to artifacts of daily life to foster national confidence, self-identification, and the joy of the everyday in modern China.
Dandan is on the creative team at Apple.
Horn Please, 2013 (note access is restricted to UF audience)
The trucking industry of India has played an instrumental role in shaping Indian trade and commerce for decades. It's a common belief among the truck owners of India that a beautiful truck is good for business and therefore the owners decorate their trucks with ornamented designs and vivid colors. Initial research demonstrated that little has been done to document this vernacular art form of India. It was this lack that inspired me to document this art form. During the summer of 2012, I traveled to six cities of India and collected information about the Indian truck art and people related to this art form. The information collected during this trip has acted as a catalyst to develop designs for my final creative project - Horn Please. The title of the project - Horn Please, is derived from a message painted on the back of many trucks in India. It is a signal for the vehicles coming from behind the trucks to blow their horn before overtaking. The sheer exposure of the signage has led it to become a popular phrase among Indians. With a kaleidoscope of bright paints, motifs, typography and some unique couplets, these Indian trucks can take you on a rather colorful journey of diverse cultures and beliefs of the country. The designs painted on the trucks do not merely represent an aesthetic purpose, but also attempt to depict religious, sentimental, and emotional viewpoints of the people related to the truck industry. The project is aimed at raising social awareness and engaging people through voices and aesthetics of the Indian trucking Industry. The concept of storytelling is key to developing the two components of Horn Please - a documentary film named Horn Please, and an exhibition consisting of seven section (the documentary film trailer, nine musical boxes, a 3D printed truck, two screen-print posters, hand-painted symbols and motifs, film poster and buttons). Divided into nine chapters (The Fuel to Truck Art, Travel Companion. Lettering, The Soul, Speed Breakers, Transformation, Indian truck art going places, The Next Gen and The Crossroads), the documentary film focuses on the origin of truck art, its evolution until today, and how this vernacular art form influences not just the world of art but also the lives of its artists and the truckers who interact with it on a daily basis. Largely, it investigates whether this traditional art, as a unique form of expression, will survive the modern day demands of the industry. The documentary film involves a collaborative effort by professionals from various industries (advertising, production, editing, music, etc.) who came together to create a film, showcasing their common interest and passion - to share the story of the truck art of India with the masses.
Public School Parent, 2015
Public School Parent centers around the collision of public and private spheres of influence as experienced through the lens of a public school parent. Using irony and satire, the project calls into question current standards and practices in public schools, specifically related to the business and politics of education— and ultimately how that interrupts the individualized nature of human development and intellectual growth.
Possession: a game of negotiation and ritual, 2013
Possession is investigation into interpersonal social dynamics by way of a board game. The board game, as well as supplementary materials, are designed to serve as a negotiating tools to facilitate discussion between the players of the game. The audience for the game are people who share personal space but not necessarily common possessions. In short they are people who live together, but may disagree about each other’s belongings. ! “Possession” aims to make evident the link between popular gaming mechanisms (dice, cards, etc) and ancient divination rites through an investigation of the use and purpose of arrows as both physical and symbolic objects. Arrows, real and symbolic have related to concepts of hunting, ownership, sight, authority, and presence throughout history and it is my purpose to bring these concepts full circle by creating a situation through the board game where players can address concerns about each other’s possession. Thus the game returns to the ritual, the hunt becomes a discussion and ownership is succeeded through negotiation.