The MxD accepted its first cohort in fall 2019, and the projects seen here are the first to emerge from this new program. MXD projects are approximately 15 credits and result in a deliverable that is ready for publication or presentation at an academic conference. A selection of final MFA projects is archived below, providing context for the program's history and evolution.
Final projects are housed in the UF Digital Collections—UF Theses and Dissertations—catalogued under graphic design. Selected projects are listed below.
Alejandra Silva Uliarte. sRes.
My goal with sRes was to prototype a tool to support resilience and future-preparedness building for young adults who experience life getting in the way of their pursuit of higher education at the Universidad Nacional de San Juan (UNSJ) in San Juan, Argentina. The project resulted in a co-designed student-centered role-based board game. The game dynamics focuses on improving students' decision making skills when academic and life challenges impact their pursuit of higher education. The problems and life situations presented by the game are informed by a horizontal design research process with the UNSJ community. The research involved UNSJ faculty and student participants and included designing and moderating remote interactions and workshops to learn students' most pressing problems, pain points, and desirable solutions according to the community. The findings led to co-designing and testing a board game to build community-generated solutions to common challenges on the path to graduation. A final step in this process was a review by members of the UNSJ psychology faculty to assess its suitability to share with the larger UNSJ community. The next steps are to formally share the prototype with the UNSJ community and gather perspectives on expectations for the visual identity and branding, and then make the game available to students through the Sistema Institucional de Educación a Distancia office (SIED-UNSJ).
Gilberto Corona. Drag GNV — Assistant Professor at Texas Tech.
This case study documents my process of research, identification, and co-creation—with members of the drag community—a visual ethnography about Gainesville drag culture. This study documents drag performance as an integral element of public-facing queer communities. Its aim is to contextualize the importance and nuance of drag as an activity supporting LGBTQ+individuals and communities and as a publicly visible format for sharing elements of LGBTQ+community identity with broader audiences. This project focused on conversations with the queer community (performers and allies) and centers reflections on drag venues as safe spaces, to build on the oral and visual history and promote the drag art form. The project weaves together past and present stories and contributes to the collective creation of safe spaces for queer people.
Samira ShiriDevich. CONNECT — Assistant Professor at University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
CONNECT represents a horizontal, iterative process between me (an Iranian graphic designer and educator) and students/staff at Project YouthBuild, a Gainesville, Florida, branch of an AmeriCorps program devoted to high school degree completion and career training for youth forced out of public schools. Our project seeks to facilitate sustainable communication and collaboration between local East Gainesville community members and Project YouthBuild students whose campus is in East Gainesville. Using co-design methods and involving Project YouthBuild students in every aspect of the design process, I’ve produced an interactive game and a map to be used in PYB’s Community Asset Mapping process. CONNECT follows YouthLed Engagement and Asset Based Community Development models. The question here is, “what are the best ways to find a hidden wealth of knowledge in vulnerable communities and visualize them to make a social change?” Co-design workshops around conversational trust-building, radical mapping, and serious games have helped to find the answer. My emergent solution builds on horizontal problem-solving across multiple disciplines and areas of expertise, including PYB students’ expertise as youth who are actively engaged in their communities as students, volunteers, and everyday residents. CONNECT provides resources for PYB students as they establish reciprocal, respectful relationships within the larger community, particularly with elderly residents neighboring the PYB property.
Shaza Jendi. Ya Salam — Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Florida.
Ya Salaam, situated at the intersection of design, education, and Arab migration, explores how to foster opportunities for Arab immigrant mothers (AIMs) to more fully participate in their children’s public school education. My qualitative and quantitative research indicates that AIMs are often othered and less engaged than they hope to be (or other parents are) due to a range of factors. Whether these are cultural misunderstandings, language barriers, stereotyping, or other barriers, the result reflects negatively on their child’s learning experiences and their own ability to support their children’s education. In order to address this problem, I listened to schoolteachers and Arab immigrant mothers as they spoke about their experiences and aspirations. Being an Arab immigrant mother myself, my research is further reinforced by my position within the community. Given this, I was eager to look closely into methods and solutions to bring mothers and teachers together. The result of my research is the Ya Salaam initiative, a range of activities and interactions co-designed with Arab immigrant mothers and teachers to build community and understanding for long-term benefit. Ya Salaam creates a sense of familiarity between public school teachers and Arab immigrant mothers, opening the door to many opportunities for parents to more fully engage in their children’s education.
Marjorie M. Shropshire. WeShore.
WeShore, a project in lieu of thesis, began with my growing awareness of declining water quality in Florida, but particularly in my home waters, the Indian River Lagoon. Once the most biodiverse estuary in the continental United States, the Lagoon increasingly suffers with recurrent algae blooms, turbidity and loss of biodiversity. A parallel interest in the way humans have altered natural landscapes for their own use led me to investigate the intersection of waterfront homes and natural waterways, and to explore how the installation of living shore-lines can make waterfronts more resilient by maintaining or restoring land/water connectivity, reducing erosion, improving habitat, and filtering sediment and pollutants. The project explores homeowner barriers to taking action, using a co-design and participatory framework to address concerns in context. WeShore is guided by research, interviews, site visits, conceptualization and iteration. The project provides a simple pathway waterfront homeowners can follow to successfully achieve the goal of constructing a living shoreline. It connects and informs disparate groups—homeowners, restoration pro-fessionals, contractors, and nature—that might otherwise have difficulty coming together in a mutually beneficial collaboration.
Florencia Lathrop-Rossi. Mujeres de Corcovado. Master of Development Practice in 2018.
My field practicum consisted of a pilot phase of a participatory research and design curriculum with artisan collectives that have low access to digital technologies and consulting services. The curriculum was designed into a toolkit, composed of methodologies, techniques, materials, tools, and strategies which can be flexibly combined with the aim of aiding artisan collectives/associations to use their knowledge to co-create meaningful branding with each other. In this phase, the toolkit was co-curated with the participants into a set of workshops and experiences (mainly attending markets and events). It was implemented in Puerto Jiménez, Costa Rica, with the artisan group Mujeres de Corcovado. Themes related to gender and solidarity economies were integrated throughout the curriculum, providing opportunities for participants to interact and reflect about how these topics relate to their work, and to share their experiences with community workers belonging to the solidarity economy and communal feminisms movements in Costa Rica…
Ashley Fuchs. I came to Gainesville And / — Assistant Professor at Montana State University
I Came to Gainesville and / is a creative design project as a result of finding a sense of permanency in a traditionally transient college town. The project encourages people to fully immerse themselves and commit to finding their own personal enjoyment in the local, and savor their fleeting time in the here and now through communal engagement and collectiveness. Developed through local observations and ethnographic research, the project presents a system for visual place making -- strengthening individual and communal connections through a series of shared, yet often overlooked deeply local patterns from Gainesville's architecture history. Three core individual elements (1 - Gainesville Zoning Map, 2 - Zine, and 3 - The Response wall) were developed to work together in a larger system -- when installed as a whole they created an interactive event for both viewer and citizen; facilitating true interactions among all participants. Each element intimated a unique contemplation and interaction with the city of Gainesville and justified the purpose of this project -- to help establish deeper individual and community relationships with Gainesville, Florida.
Joungyun Choi Play and learn with nature — received her MFA from UF and her PhD in Design from University of Minnesota. She was an assistant professor at South Dakota State University before returning to New York.
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.
Rongfei Geng An Ideal University Life — works at Google, formerly at Intuit.
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.
Myda Iamiceli 50/50: Finding Myself withing Two Cultures — Assistant Professor at University of West Georgia.
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.
Fuer Liu Urban Genes : Embrace Local Culture in Urban Space — UX designer at IBM, Shanghai
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.
Dandan Luo 12 x 12 — on the creative team at Apple.
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.
Shantanu Suman Horn Please, (note access is restricted to UF audience) — Assistant Professor, Ball State.
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.
Alston Wise Public School Parent — Art Director, Chick Fil A
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.
Dan Ypsilanti Possession: a game of negotiation and ritual — Designer, UF Counseling and Wellness Center
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.