Design & Identity in Everyday Life
— exploring how design works —
Designed & Taught by Dori Griffin
With [amazing!] TA Sami ShiriDevich
Participants opted in/out of this souvenir e-book, and when opting in, if they’d like to be anonymous. If yes, they’re referenced throughout as Student Designer. email@example.com
Table of Contents
🌟 Gold Stars offer a representative sample of topics we investigated via weekly individual blogs: ability, class, gender, nationality, race, and religion. Students interrogated design’s Form, Function, and Philosophy through their chosen lens. I learned so much from their blogs — reminding me again that I teach because I want to keep learning forever, and I work to make this possible for all my students, too.
Aubrey Beardsley at Tate Britain / 6
© Student Designer 2021 🌟
The Design Behind a Mall / 11
© Sarah Baltes 2021
Unravel and Reveal / 14
© Student Designer 2021
Exploring Design in Religious Spaces: St. Peter’s Basilica / 18
© Student Designer 2021
Mission Driven Car Show /23
© Jake Bielinski 2021
Central Park /26
© Elena Bressler 2021
The MET Fashion Exhibit /30
© Student Designer 2021
Columbus Museum of Art Exhibition: Art After Stonewall 1969-1989 / 37
© Zoe Catalera 2021 🌟
Drive ‘N Drag: Tampa / 41
© Gavin Coe 2021
Kanapaha Botanical Gardens / 44
© Student Designer 2021
Ichetucknee Springs State Park / 52
© Student Designer 2021
United States Holocaust Museum / 55
© Student Designer 2021
Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention / 59
© Joshua Fosen 2021
Harn Museum of Art / 64
© Ryan Freeman 2001
The National Museum of Computing / 68
© Student Designer 2021 🌟
The Boca Raton Museum of Art / 73
© Julie Ha 2021
Kailasa Temple (India) / 77
© Yash Hegde 2021 🌟
Sexual Assault Survivor Story Exhibition / 80
© Rachel Hernandez 2021 🌟
The Harn Museum of Art / 83
© Reagan Johnson 2021
UCF Celebrates the Arts / 87
© Alexander Kinbar-Clark 2021
The National WWII Museum & Its Design / 91
© Phoebe LaForge 2021
The Florida Museum of Natural History: Butterfly Forest / 95
© Sydney Lemmerman 2021
The Harn Museum — Global Perspectives / 98
© Zarina London 2021
Pérez Art Museum, Miami / 104
© Student Designer 2021
State Hermitage Museum / 107
© Feba Mathew 2021 🌟
Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) / 111
© Student Designer 2021
Butterfly Rainforest at the Florida Museum / 114
© Courtney Megargel 2021
Depot Park / 118
© Sophie Michalowski 2021 🌟
Representation of the LGBTQ+ Community in Downtown Gainesville / 123
© Arlene Midulla 2021 🌟
Spruce Creek Preserve Trails / 126
© Renag Morkous 2021
Phap Vu Buddhist Cultural Center / 129
© Student Designer 2021 🌟
Identity through the Lens of The Perez Art Museum Experience / 132
© Khanyma Nelthropp 2021 🌟
Florida Museum of Natural History / 136
© Genna Nordling 2021
Makeup Drag Panel: Experiential Analysis through Expression / 140
© Hunter Oropeza 2021
A Day at the Harn Museum / 145
© Student Designer 2021
“Luna” Moon Sculpture in Downtown Gainesville / 149
© Student Designer 2021
The Harn and Design / 152
© Jada Pallagi 2021
Pike Halftime / 155
© Hanna Pasqualini 2021
Design in Economic Class: Emirates First-Class Cabin / 158
© Sahaj Patel 2021 🌟
The Creation Museum / 162
© Sam Peacock 2021
How The Harn Museum of Art Celebrates Diversity / 165
© Vianna Quach 2021 🌟
Harn Museum of Art / 169
© Ashley Ray 2021
Women’s Museum of California / 172
© Giuliana Ribas 2021
The Rijksmuseum / 176
© Leah Richard 2021 🌟
Disney’s Magic Kingdom / 180
© Student Designer 2021
The St. Petersburg Pier / 184
© Student Designer 2021
Peace River Botanical & Sculpture Gardens / 188
© Maria Ruggiero 2021
Ringling Museum “Saito Kiyoshi Graphic Awakening Exhibit” / 191
© Quintin Sachs 2021
Gainesville-Hawthorne State Trail Welcomes All / 195
© Claudia Scheuren 2021
Lavapalooza: A Covid-Safe (Minecraft) Music Festival / 199
© Nathan Schoedl 2021 🌟
American Museum of Natural History / 203
© Student Designer 2021
National Museum of the U.S Air Force / 206
© Owen Shimberg 2021
An Experiential Analysis of the 1614 James Smith Monument / 210
© Alex Theophanis 2021 🌟
Native American Exhibits: Florida Museum of Natural History / 219
© Brendan Anthony Tuliao 2021
National Women’s History Museum / 223
© Madison Uhle 2021
Bazar á La Carte: An Outdoor Market / 227
© Leia Ulrich 2021
Sistine Chapel: Virtual Tour / 230
© Annie Vardanyan 2021
Mardi Gras Through the Eyes of a New Orleans Resident
© Elizabeth Wagner 2021
The Jim Crow Museum / 235
© Wanchen Wang 2021 🌟
The South Florida State Fair / 239
© Julia Whisenhunt 2021
Gender on Fraternity Drive / 243
© Student Designer 2021 🌟
The Holocaust Museum / 249
© Christy Zephyr 2021 🌟
Aubrey Beardsley at Tate Britain
© Student Designer 2021
Throughout this semester, I have been exploring the themes of gender and sexuality which propelled me into taking a virtual tour at Tate Britain of the works of Aubrey Beardsley. Unfortunately, even though I would have loved to experience viewing the masterpieces of Aubrey Beardsley in person, I would have never been able to as his exhibition was in 2020 and the museum being in London, England. However, after watching two videos on this exhibition and putting together the information I had learned from each, I was greatly pleased with my findings. I enjoyed listening to the Tate curators discuss Beardsley’s prolific career as an artist as well as watching a video that walked me through the entire exhibition, allowing me to feel as if I was there myself. These videos along with different sites on Aubrey Beardsley allowed me to reflect and critically analyze on how form, function, and philosophy is presented in this museum and through his works.
As the youtuber walked through the museum, I silently observed and jotted down details that I normally would not have before taking this course of design and identity. After passing through each section, I realized that unlike most art museums, the walls were painted with different colors in each room. However, with khaki green, flax yellow, and tempo teal being a few of the colors, I noticed that these colors had an air of sophistication about them, similar to most museums. They were not overly bright, but instead toned down as to not distract from the art being displayed. On several walls in each separate section, there was typography on the wall. The title was in capital letters to signify what the text was about without being bold and overpowering. The body of the typography used was gender neutral and typed in a simple font for viewers who wanted to learn more about the pieces in the area, but the simplicity allowed it to blend into the background, allowing all the attention to focus on the “stars'' of the exhibit. Because most of Aubrey Beardsley’s pieces being displayed are black ink drawings on white paper, the colored walls did an excellent job of contrasting with the art making them stand out. The black and white in most of his drawings draw in the observer and make them really look at the fine details of the drawing. At first glance, because most of the imagery is so dense, the main components of the drawing are apparent, but as one continues assessing the work more thoroughly, odd details such as a small phallus and cobwebs peek out of the background. Another one of Beardsley’s masterpieces that he helped publish is called “The Yellow Book.” Inside contained pages of provocative drawings, and he purposefully selected the color yellow because of its association with French erotica novels. He wanted to startle his observers and prepare them for the shocking scandalous drawings it contained.
Screenshots of the various walls taken from YouTube video Aubrey Beardsley at Tate Britain; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OgsGEAOMtpo
Right image: A photo taken by Paul Robins/Victoria at the Tate Britain Museum; https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2020/mar/13/aubrey-beardsley-how-king-arthur-saw-the-questing-beast
Left images Screenshots from YouTube video “Aubrey Beardsley at Tate Britain - Exhibition Tour | Tate”; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7irwknBsBHA&t=140s
As a person begins from the entrance of the exhibition they walk through the different colored rooms. Each room flows smoothly into the next section with the pieces of art lining only the walls. This large amount of open space in the middle gives the viewer a feeling of walking into a new world where they can immerse themselves into the work of Beardsley. It might give them a sense of trepidation of the unknown, yet eager to read the stories waiting for them on the walls. While the pieces hung on the wall are smaller, they are spaced out in a way that allows multiple people to look at the same piece without crowding. The open area in each room also prevents people from bumping into each other and allows for a more enjoyable experience. In this exhibit, there is one room, labeled as 12, that is hidden away. When a person walks through the exhibit, it opens to a new section where the art surrounds them. However, after leaving the room containing sections 9 through 11, a person finds themselves in the last room of 13 through 15. Section 12 is by itself in its own room where it contains Beardsley’s more sexually explicit creations. By putting this section towards the end of the exhibition, it gives the observer a sense of build up from his tamer pieces in the beginning to his drawings that show more nudity. By selecting the darker maroon color in the room, the designers wanted it to help provide feelings of mystery and seduction. When an observer enters the “secret” room, they might have feelings of astonishment, which is what both the designers of the museum and Beardsley were aiming for in their design.
A screenshot of the exhibition’s layout taken from the "large print guide" on Tate.org; file:///C:/Users/17863/Downloads/tb_exh_0063_beardsley_lpg_web_aw.pdf
Aubrey Beardsley was born in the 1870’s, which means that he grew up with the Victorian influence. However, with his art, he defied the norms of the art culture established in society, and instead chose to work with mostly black ink and create his own style of art. While still wanting to shock the public with his outrageous art by drawing the genitalia in a large scale of both women and men, he toned it down by drawing them only in black and white. Had he drawn them in color and on a larger scale overall, they would have most likely been considered pornographic in the Victorian age standards. Sexuality of both genders is displayed in his drawings, and it is likely influenced from his own feelings of hidden desire and sexuality. Because Beardsley was linked to Oscar Wilde, who was arrested for same sex relations, he soon lost a steady source of income until his death. This exhibition honors his contrasting art style to that of the time in which he lived. It allows people from all over to not judge, but appreciate what Beardsley’s talent had to offer, and to try and analyze the hidden meanings of sexuality within the works.
As a lover of the arts, I wish that I could have experienced this exhibition for myself. While focusing on sexuality and gender for this semester, I have seen how sexuality is not always openly accepted in the world. Beardsley was known to be attracted to women, but he also was known to carry queer desires and identities. I find it inspiring how he defies the art style of the time and expresses his sexuality through his pieces outright and hidden within the details. Due to the form, function, and philosophy the creations of Beardsley are enhanced and provides future generations an opportunity to reflect on his timeless imagery and appreciate open mindedness that eluded him during his lifetime.
The Design Behind a Mall
© Sarah Baltes 2021
Figure 1 Men’s section of Forever21
Figure 2 Restrooms in the Food Court
Figure 3 Gender Inclusive store called FYE
Almost everyone has been to a mall at some point in their life. However, I wanted to look at the design of the mall and how it impacts one’s identity, specifically how it affects one’s gender. Like every mall, many stores cater to both men’s and women’s needs. There are stores like Forever 21 or Pac sun that only sell men’s and women’s clothing and market towards them. For people that don’t fit into binary gender roles, shopping at a mall can be difficult and frustrating. There was one store I found at the mall that didn’t have a specific men and women section, called “FYE.” This store was a movie store on one half of it, but on the other half, there were clothes and knickknacks. These clothes and knickknacks were not being advertised or marketed toward a specific gender, making it a space that allows one to feel free to be who they are. The design of this store does not cater to one gender over the other. It doesn’t cater to any gender. This store allows people to express who they are without judgment.
In a mall, there are a lot of areas of design that can either help address someone’s identity or ignore it completely. The form of a design is a key factor that contributes to one’s identity. I noticed forms of writing the most in the mall, specifically the fonts. Every store has its own logo, but this logo reflects who the store is trying to draw in. For example, the store Zumiez has a very bold and simple logo. This tells me that due to its very simplistic straight design is catered to try to draw more guys into the store. After going into the store, I can say that this is true. They had over twice the amount of guys’ clothing compared to girls. They also advertise as a skater store which is very appealing to guys at the moment because having a “skater style” is a big trend right now. Other stores, like H&M, have a very flowy cursive logo in red. This is meant to draw in more women, simply due to its cursive font. The cursive font shows the feminine qualities of women through the flowy and delicate characteristics it holds. After going into the store, there was a lot more women’s clothing than men’s. Another form of design that contributes to one’s identity is color. Color has been used for centuries to differentiate between the binary genders, and stores in the mall use the same tactic to draw in the gender they accommodate the most. For example, the store Claire’s uses a bright purple sign to draw in girls and women, so they will want to buy some fun jewelry from them. The purple sign directly shows that they are more accommodating towards women than men through being purple. For many years the idea that purple and pink are girl colors has placed a stereotype throughout society. When I went into this store, there was not a single men’s or boy’s item, everything in that store was for the female gender. While stores like Champs use the colors red, white, and blue with the word sports written underneath it. This store is largely appealing to the male gender and their logo shows it. When I walked into the store, I noticed the shoes right away. The whole store was mostly men’s shoes while there was a small corner of women’s shoes. This makes this store highly unfunctional for any woman to be able to find shoes in that store.
Another aspect of design that affects one’s identity is Function. The function is vital in letting someone express their identity because if an item is not specifically made for that individual’s identity, then it is most likely not going to function as it should. In the mall food court, there are restrooms for both genders and a family restroom. This is an example of the function of something not working for an individual because if someone does not conform to either one of those genders, then they will have to wait for the family restroom. The function of these bathrooms does not serve and accommodate everyone’s needs. If we now look at the store Victoria’s Secret, we can see another design function that does not allow the needs of the customers to be met. Victoria’s Secret uses the function of propaganda with its models to show the type of women they cater towards. When we look at their bras, they only come in sizes A through DD, and a lot of women do not fit into this size range making their bras unfunctional for many women.
The last aspect of design that can affect the identity of someone is the philosophy of design. Universal design is a big feature of the design that allows anyone to be able to use that design. For example, I went to the store FYE in my mall where they do not have a clear men’s and women’s section. Everything in that store is catered and designed so that anyone can use that design, whether it be clothes, lamps, record players, etc. This store allows anyone with any identity to be able to walk in and feel safe because they won’t be judged for not fitting normal binary gender stereotypes. Instead, they see that everything was made for any individual who would like to buy it. This idea of universal design is so vitally important for the inclusivity of any gender or identity. As an individual who identifies as female, I never really look into the design of a mall and how it could impact people who do not identify within the binary genders. However, I believe that universal design and having stores cater to all genders is important for our future. There are so many aspects of design that make it hard to be able to accommodate everyone, however, if we start small it is possible. First, the stores’ should make sure that they have equal amounts of clothing for both genders, and the gendered signs should come down. This way there is no more labeling, instead, it is just a store with items in it for sale for everyone, no matter their label. Without labels, shoppers are able to have this feeling of freedom while walking through the mall and shopping for any clothes they may want.
Unravel and Reveal
© Student Designer 2021
Enveloped in nature’s tranquility, swirls of blue shift across Vincent Van Gogh’s “Starry Night”, complemented by white and yellow starlight bursts. My gaze observes the painting’s bottom corner where a hole interrupts the image’s serenity. The remaining walls’ periwinkle blue is similarly jarring, clashing with the painting’s more sophisticated color scheme. This was my reaction, walking into the youth group game room (that often involved teenagers crashing into walls) after our youth pastor had abruptly created a “Starry Night” mural there. Adult leaders and older students, myself included, often questioned this seemingly incoherent decor decision, despite greatly admiring the painting. Yet, through analyzing the virtual exhibit of “Unravel Van Gogh”, created by the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, Netherlands I realize this seemingly spontaneous decision was extremely intentional. Through design tactics, ranging from color and typography to interactive features, “Unravel Van Gogh” alters viewers’ perspectives in ways such as this by drawing parallels between Van Gogh’s works and personal life. This prompted a self-reflection on my identity, largely defined by Christianity because the exhibit abstractly emphasized how faith is more than simply a “religion” but a personal relationship founded upon the honesty, vulnerability, and intentionality in Van Gogh’s masterpieces.
“Unravel Van Gogh” facilitates exploration by maximizing technological abilities to directly engage viewers with online artistic experience access, spanning national borders and a pandemic. Although some lack Wifi and technological access, which could be considered a virtual exhibit design flaw that could be resolved by increasing accessibility in rural and impoverished areas, “Unravel Van Gogh” still provides opportunities for a diverse array of people to explore his works and research associated with them. The website’s design lets viewers click on titles, taking them to enlarged images of Van Gogh’s paintings which they navigate to gain a more intimate perspective of his work, by examining aspects like paint texture. The works are complemented by Van Gogh’s quotes and descriptions discussing research findings about the pieces’ deeper meanings that engage the senses by providing visual and auditory components. An aspect of “form” helping to captivate a diverse audience is the use of typography or Arial font for the descriptions and quotes. Arial font is clear and simplistic, preventing distractions from the words being read. This facilitates the transition from viewing a visually appealing piece of artwork to reading a brief description of it. Color acts similarly, as the virtual exhibit allows the colors to change in his paintings “The Bedroom” and “Sunflowers” from their present to initial shades. For example, the orange and yellow shades in “Sunflowers” were bolder and saturated originally. This altered my perspective on the painting because I once considered the muted color scheme to represent his somber and troubled life, but he instead wanted the sunflowers to reflect nature’s vivacious beauty. In this way, I was able to “step into the mind of the artist” to gain a clearer sense of his style. This intentionality exerted from his artistic attention to detail served as a reminder to examine my identity, rooted in my Christian faith, more closely throughout the exhibit, specifically the importance of acting in meaningful ways that seek to love others well.
This is an image of Vincent Van Gogh’s original “Sunflowers” (left) compared with the painting’s color scheme now (right). “Unraveling Van Gogh” Van Gogh Museum Amsterdam, Netherlands (2020).
The virtual exhibit delves deeper into personal understanding’s importance by examining Van Gogh’s paintings and life closely, increasing artistic educational significance. Viewers take advantage of the interactive design that facilitates the “unraveling” of Van Gogh. This occurs through ways such as using a “zoom-in” function to see the texture of “Sunflowers” or using an “eraser” to reveal the original painting underneath “The Cottage”. These aspects allow a deeper understanding of a well-known artist and his works that many assume they already understand completely. Gaining insights on Van Gogh’s life, such as his strong relationship with his brother Theo in “Quinces, Lemons, Pears, and Grapes”, an art dealer who increased Van Gogh’s artistic confidence, encourages viewers to reflect on transparency in relationships and unpack their “hidden layers”. For my faith-based identity, this deeper understanding of Van Gogh enforces the importance of vulnerability in my relationship with the Lord that supersedes the constructs of religion. Being able to express your weakness, struggles, flaws, experiences, and other events that are happening in your life are vital to forming a strong connection with God. Others with agnostic or varying religious beliefs may associate this principle with other relationships in their life, such as authentic friendships being more valuable than shallow ones. “Unraveling” Van Gogh’s work enforces the idea of vulnerability in deep relationships that is rooted in our communal and religious identities by connecting his artistic ability and defining personal experiences.
By revealing meanings behind artworks, “Unravel Van Gogh” enforces the philosophy of promoting a diverse artistic community, as people from around the world engage with his masterpieces. The virtual exhibit allows Van Gogh’s work to cross physical and global boundaries. In this way, the public connects through the mutual artistic knowledge the exhibit provides. Conversely, though, a future design innovation suggestion to promote greater community through additional interactive features would be implementing a “chat” between individuals on the website, so they can react to common experiences. When a diverse group of people observes art’s beautiful mysteries, they become inspired to apply the lessons learned to their own lives and create masterpieces. The exhibit even inspired myself to practice artistic expression this summer by purchasing a sketchbook and drawing regularly, as I did in high school. There is a certain honesty involved with unveiling the meaning and details behind Van Gogh’s works and it is this type of honesty that draws people to art as a personal outlet. Christianity plays a similar role in my life, as I am asked to demonstrate an authentic identity and faith-based journey. These beliefs serve as accountability to have interactions in life reflect genuineness. Peeling back the layers of Van Gogh’s work and life in this online exhibit emphasizes how design promotes greater openness about learning from others from diverse backgrounds and growing closer to them through mutual artistic appreciation.
On the surface, Van Gogh, religion, and identity are extremely distinct categories, explaining my confusion when viewing the “Starry Night” mural on the youth group wall. In truth, they greatly intertwine by invoking a sense of community through cultural appreciation as diverse people dive deeper into artistic works and “unravel” themselves. “Unravel Van Gogh” is designed as an accessible and inclusive way to engage viewers in an artistic education about the mysterious beauty of art and the intentionality Van Gogh reflects. By unveiling his works’ meanings, viewers reveal their identities and ability to exercise authenticity in relationships, religion and spirituality, and life. I translate this into faith-based meaning and the importance of exercising honesty, vulnerability, and intentionality to grow in that relationship. Others can have similar takeaways, due to the power of design that can even transform a spontaneous mural into a meaningful focal point, intimately personal in nature.
Bright, Marshall. “50 Ways to Experience Culture from Your Couch - CNN Underscored.” CNN, Cable News Network, 1 Apr. 2020, www.cnn.com/2020/03/26/cnn-underscored/virtual-museums.
“Unravel Van Gogh: Discover Facts about the Artworks of Vincent Van Gogh.” Unravel Van Gogh | Discover Facts about the Artworks of Vincent Van Gogh, 2020, unravel.vangogh.com/en/.
Exploring Design in Religious Spaces: St. Peter’s Basilica
© Student Designer 2021
Design plays an important role in shaping the way individuals recognize and identify with ideas. Saint Peter’s Basilica is considered to be Catholicism’s holiest shrine, containing numerous relics and historic artwork. Located in the Vatican City, it is known as the largest church in Christendom. The goal of religious design is to reinforce the core values of Catholicism. Being a UNESCO world heritage site, the Basilica attracts millions of tourists each year, but not exclusively Catholics. It is important for design to be thoughtful in a way that contributes to the betterment of society. I noticed how in the Basilica, design was not merely about projecting Catholic ‘propaganda’ but rather paying homage to the artifacts which it holds. Identities in religion and spirituality are rather fluid in today’s world, therefore it is essential for religious spaces to be accepting of all individuals.
St. Peter’s Basilica has extreme detail therefore indicating a greater significance to every design. Started in 1506, the design of the chapel was commissioned by Pope Julius II and coordinated by several different architects including Michelangelo. The artwork and architectural design are highly influenced by the Renaissance period and Baroque architecture. Although it is common in religious design for there to be connections to religious ideals and values. I noticed how any and all lettering through the church was in capital letters, using the same font. I think this is an excellent example of how design can subconsciously trigger feelings and associations.
Image: St Peter’s Chair - Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1666) https://www.vatican.va/various/basiliche/san_pietro/vr_tour/index-en.html
Saint Peter’s Basilica includes St. Peter’s square, the courtyard in front of the building itself, and spans 5 acres. The dome, reaching 136 meters high, is one of the largest in the world. Because it contains some of the world’s most famous sculptures, paintings, and artefacts, the basilica had to be inclusive and accessible for all people. It has large walkways and open spaces to allow for flow of traffic down the middle, while others can stand to the side and observe. This floorplan design is successfully functional and crucial for the organization with its abundance of visitors. It allows for visitors to freely choose the order in which they view, creating an individualistic experience for everyone. I realized this feature is necessary in all religious places to allow people to understand their faith without the influence of others.
Color plays a big part in religious design. Throughout Saint Peter's Basilica many colors are repeated and offer the same significance. Why is used to make spaces look bigger but it is also a way to project purity, innocence and foundationalism. Gold and bronze are used on important structures and signify eternal glory. The structural design is also important in projecting Catholic values. Windows in part of the Basilica create corpuscular rays which are often called “God‘s rays”. Here, design is important in creating an overall experience and memorable aspect of the structure.
Image: “God’s Rays” - Fred Zimny (2014) https://www.nationalgeographic.org/photo/sun-rays/
It is important that, as a historic site, the basilica makes an effort to be sustainable in power consumption and usage of resources. In 2014, the lighting system was converted to a digital lighting system which consumes 90% less energy and is safer for the preservation of the interior. Additionally, The Basilica, being a symbol of human evolution that many individuals listen to, made a conscious effort to be more involved in advocacy for environmental causes. In 2015, the Basilica shut its lights off during the climate talks in Paris to, in the words of the pope, reinforce the idea “of a responsible stewardship for our common home”.
I believe that it is difficult for religious designers to participate in Democratic design which includes all belief systems; however, it is possible for them to be inclusive of all groups of people. For example, throughout the museum, major sights are labeled and described in several different languages, to prevent the discrimination of any one group. Worldwide, people are able to easily recognize St. Peter’s and appreciate its beauty. Constructed in the renaissance period, many Catholic churches designed participated in the same method. In this way, Catholic design is universally recognizable. It is important to have consistency in religious design as it comforts the human mind and allows for more trust in faith.
Image: An Environmental Message, From and on the Vatican - Travis Threlkel (2015) - https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/projects/cp/climate/2015-paris-climate-talks/an-environmental-message-from-and-on-the-vatican
Being raised Catholic, I have always been in awe of St. Peter’s Basilica, but for more religious reasons. I visited on summer vacation two years ago and never made connections with how my personal experience was persuaded by design. By examining the design of the building itself, I have learned that within religious spaces, Catholic or otherwise, everything has meaning. It is easy to miss these key aspects of design when you are trying to enjoy your time there in person. Also, I have grown aware that people including myself will often listen and agree to the ideals being supported or vocalized by religious organizations. A religious space, such as a basilica, church or temple, is created as a symbol or body to associate those messages with. I came to the conclusion that design needs to be valuable and justified or it could potentially be harmful. I admire St. Peter’s for respecting the art and culture of Catholicism rather than attempting to force conversion on all its visitors.
After visiting St. Peter’s, its influence on church architecture is quite prominent and religious buildings are often held to its standard. We are told this basilica’s rank takes precedence over all other minor basilicas across the globe; therefore, it is easy to limit ourselves to design in religious spaces without challenging this traditional model. Another complication with designing in religious spaces, especially within Christianity, is straying from the idea of consistency. It may be difficult to change to a more modern architectural design when baroque is viewed as the traditional style. Adapting to COVID-19 is difficult for religious groups as gatherings are essential to practice and provide a major source of income. To tour St. Peter’s, the church has provided virtual tours which is how I was able to explore it. Religion can be a key factor in a person’s decision making therefore we must be careful in how we use design.
Mission Driven Car Show
© Jake Bielinski 2021
The mission driven car show takes place at St. Francis In The Fields, which is an Episcopal church in Kentucky. This is a bi-yearly car show which is aimed towards raising money for the church’s summer outreach missions to David, Kentucky, and the Dominican Republic. The show raises money by requiring $15 to register your car and open donations. With over 200 cars normally registering and hundreds of other visitors, the show normally raises over $10,000. The car show is open to any person wanting to come and accepts all sorts of cars into it’s judging competition. I attended this show in early March of 2021. This essay is going to go over the overall form, function, and philosophy behind this car show.
I entered this event as a passenger in my father’s car so my perspective will be one of somebody who is registering a car for the show. Upon arrival, you are greeted by the kind staff of the event and told where you can park. We got there a little late so we parked in the grass oval that is surrounded by a perimeter road and small parking lots which branch off from the road. When entering the oval, you have to make a full circle around the road to get to the entrance. Whilst driving on the perimeter road, you pass by all the surrounding parking lots where you get a glimpse at the other unique cars registered. The entire perimeter road is also surrounded by large over-arching trees creating a very scenic and enjoyable drive. Once you get to the oval entrance, it seems as if the entire space becomes 10 times larger and brighter due to the sun beaming down. Once you find an open space and park your car, you walk over to the sign-in booth, pay the $15 fee, and return back to your car with your registration paperwork. Finally, you are free to walk around and enjoy the car show. The overall form of this event is extremely welcoming and organized.
The function of this event is quite obvious and I think that’s the main reason why it's so successful. This event was most likely originally designed to be a fundraiser for what some would consider a good cause. But instead of being just a simple and boring fundraiser, the creators of the event designed it around a car show so that people would be more excited and willing to attend and show support. Due to this event mainly being seen as a car show, any type of person can attend if they want. Just because this is a fundraiser put on by an Episcopal Church does not mean that you have to be a part of the church or hold the same beliefs. The church is specifically facilitating an event where car enthusiasts of any identity can join in and have a good time. I think because they are not requiring everyone to pay or donate is the main reason why they get so much support.
The overall philosophy of this event can be closely compared to the actual design and layout of the event. The main grass oval of the car show is surrounded by additional parking lots and a road connecting them both. This is very similar to the sense of community and connection that is created by the event. The event is only bi-yearly so it does not happen often but when it does a lot of the same people come every time. Because of this repeated attendance, a small community forms from the car show. This also reinforces the message of most churches including this one. Because the event also serves as a fundraiser for mission trips where members of the church go to lower-class areas and try to help them in any way, the philosophy of the event can definitely be easily related to religion. Since this event is connected to a religious practice, it may exclude people with different religious views or none at all.
This was my fourth time attending this event so it was extremely interesting to think about the overall design of this event with all the knowledge we have accumulated this semester. I think one of the most crucial points was realizing I was attending this event as a fellow car enthusiast as well as someone who follows a similar religion to this church in particular. I suppose that in the past I have taken for granted that this event was in no way controversial for me and just simply a car show for a good cause. Someone of a different religion or background may be somewhat wary about attending this event due to personal conflicts. However with all that being considered, I went into the event this time trying to decide if it is as inclusive as I previously believed. I think through the form, function, and philosophy that I described, this event can certainly be considered an all inclusive event. Neither the people, layout, or signage impose a specific religion on any attendee. Any sort of human can willingly attend this event simply as a car show with a great community and nothing else. Through thinking about design this way, I can now apply this knowledge to any future car show or similar event I attend. This can even help when setting up future events for UF and my direct friends.
Going back to a car show with an entirely different point of view allowed me to fully understand the specific design of this event. With the impact of COVID-19, car shows have been limited and this was a nice and relaxing introduction back into them. Being able to go back to my hometown and visit with my friends and family at this car show really helped me discover the true design of this event. Just like I have my small community revolving around myself, this car show creates its own community that is built upon year by year. The show has multiple reasons for being created, but it’s up to the people attending to decide what reason they are there for.
© Elena Bressler 2021
I recently visited my home in New York City and decided that the beautiful Central Park would be a perfect piece of design for this assignment. Throughout its 840 acres, Central Park is home to plenty of wildlife, and is a relaxing escape from the hustle and bustle of the vast city surrounding it. Visitors are able to enjoy the tranquility of a natural environment in between the busyness of the Big Apple. Central Park’s spacious lawns and designated paths allow visitors to use the park for long walks, bike rides, picnics, exercise, or for simple enjoyment. Established in the middle of the nineteenth century, the park is a true New York City landmark with approximately 42 million visitors annually. In visiting the park for this assignment I have come to acquire a true appreciation for its beauty. It is one of the most cleverly designed parks in New York, and one of the most beautiful.
Right now, Central Park is filled with the vibrance of Spring and the atmosphere of a new season. According to 99designs.com, “The brighter and lighter a color, the more happy and optimistic it will make you feel.” In the warmer seasons (i.e. Spring, Summer, and Autumn), bright colored flowers and plants envelop the park, creating a happy mood among visitors. Additionally, “Colors like blue and green can make you feel calm” (99designs.com). The green hue of the widespread nature in Central Park has a calming effect on those who visit. All of these colors and shades of nature makes for a tranquil and cheerful aura throughout the park.
Central Park is organized in a way that allows visitors to explore the entirety of the space without feeling overwhelmed. The park is assembled in a rectangular shape near the center of Manhattan, so that its guests may walk into the park directly from the busyness of the urban development around it. As a resident of Manhattan, I understand how overwhelming the city can be. However, Central Park provides a peaceful escape from the immensity of the park’s surrounding skyscrapers and crowds. The openness of the park gives its guests a sense of freedom from the suffocation of Manhattan’s confining atmosphere.
Image taken by Elena Bressler (29 March, 2021)
Once inside the park, visitors can partake in a variety of activities. These activities include taking a stroll through the self-guided paths, lounging on the benches provided to look at the scenery (for example, the various lakes throughout the park, the beautiful plantlife in the fields, the skyscrapers surrounding the park, etc), or assembling a picnic on the lawns while basking in the sun. Central Park is also a perfect place for structured pastimes. Visitors can ride a bike throughout the park where organized bike paths are provided, or participate in exercise classes that meet on the lawns of the park. When I visited the park earlier this season, a group of elementary school students were using the park for their physical education class. There is also a lake in Central Park where visitors can rent a small sailboat if he or she desires. Musicians and artists use the park to freely express their art. In the summertime, residents of Manhattan use the park to soak up the sunlight, and in the wintertime, sledding and snowball fights are common amongst people of all ages.
My mother walks our dog in Central Park every morning, and praises the gorgeous scenery she encounters there. The park allows dogs to run freely off of their leashes until 9 AM, so that the dogs who are stuck in cramped apartments during the day can use this time to play despite the freedom they lack in apartments. A good friend of mine told me about a tree planted in the middle of Central Park in honor of her brother that passed away a few years ago. The tree is a way for those who have passed to live on in the form of nature. Family members can sit under the tree to remember their loved ones and honor their memory.
I mention all of these activities to highlight the versatility of Central Park. It was designed in a way to allow for all of these pastimes to take place. Manhattan is an urban jungle--it is difficult to find a place to feel truly free, and to be able to participate in activities that those who live in suburbs and rural towns can easily find a place to do these things. Central Park is like the freshly mowed backyard of New York City.
Image taken by Elena Bressler (29 March, 2021)
The original goal of Central Park, as stated by centralparknyc.org, was to “offer urban dwellers an experience of the countryside, a place to escape from the stresses of urban life and to commune with nature and fellow New Yorkers.” Yes, this is certainly true, but I think that Central Park has another purpose. I believe the true goal in establishing Central Park is to join not only New Yorkers together, but to join together citizens of the world no matter their background, religion, socioeconomic status, nationality, age, gender, culture, or way of life. Central Park has no cost of admission, and is a space for any person to use for ultimately whatever they want to do (legally, of course). It is a democratic design intended to accept all ways of life. Despite the differences we all have, in this park, we all share one thing: freedom. Central Park ties together all people of the world without judgement or prejudice. Even though it is an escape from the hectic city around it, the park’s main purpose is being free.
Image taken by Elena Bressler (29 March, 2021)
My love for Central Park was magnified throughout this project. A park that simply existed in my mind has now become a meaningful piece of art in my life. I eagerly await the day that I can step back into Central Park to feel completely free from the daunting responsibilities and challenges I face and to feel calm and satisfied with the life I live. Central Park has shown me that there is in fact a place in this world where each and every person can feel truly at peace with themselves and with their life. Manhattan can be an intimidating place, but Central Park balances out that ominous and immense feeling with its spacious atmosphere, vibrant colors, and free environment.
The MET Fashion Exhibit
© Student Designer 2021
Identity is ultimately the most significant aspect of one's life. Who you identify as determines so many different parts of your life. However, identity is something many people also struggle with. Figuring out the components that you use to identify yourself is a part of one's life journey. Finding your identity in components of your day to day life also helps you find what you resonate with. We find identity through design in our day to day lives. When it comes to design, identity plays a large role in how designs are created.
The museum I chose to virtually visit for the Experiential Learning Activity was the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Although I have visited this museum in person prior to Corona, I have always been fascinated by all the exhibits the MET has to offer. Specifically the online exhibits of different clothing. When I had last visited, the clothing from MET Gala was on display. The clothing exhibits I viewed addressed gender when it came to the theme of the design. I personally resonated with the clothing designs because the ones that I viewed were designs for females and how they defied the gender norms of what females were supposed to wear by incorporating masculine aspects.
Ensemble by Coco Chanel
The first design I looked at was “Ensemble” by Coco Chanel. The theme throughout this clothing line was taking a modernistic approach to early 1900’s clothing while incorporating aspects of male clothing. In the exhibit it says how Chanel used men's clothing to create women’s clothes. The whole design of the suit is very simplistic and takes many aspects of feminine and masculine design and combines it into one. The design of the jacket lining itself was taken from a design of military uniforms. The blazer contributes a very masculine aspect to the design of the suit. The suit itself is very straight and doesn’t emphasize any type of curves which gives almost a boyish figure to the design. However, the skirt and the corsage add a feminine aspect. The cream and black color also adds to the simplicity of the design, but the courage adds a sense of uniqueness to it. It seems as though the intention of this design was to begin going against the gender norms of how women were supposed to dress at this time. Rather than women only wearing skirts, blouses, and dresses, the introduction of masculine aspects into this design go against how women were “supposed to dress”.
New Look by Christian Dior
A similar design to this is Christian Dior’s “New Look''. This was introduced in his first collection ever in which he celebrated very feminine aspects of women’s clothing while still referencing to masculine aspects of design. Dior designed this after serving in the military. His view on this design was to create a new outlook after a long period of being in military uniforms. One aspect of the design Dior incorporated is the “Bar Suit” which is a notched collar. Similar to “Ensemble”, by Chanel, we see a blazer incorporated into the design in a more feminine way. The blazer itself contributes to a masculine and military design, however, the cinched waist and bell shaped skirt add to the feminine aspect of the design. The shape of the skirt and blazer outline more feminine curvature, which is very different from “Ensemble”. Rather than resembling a boyish figure, Dior brings attention to the natural curves of a female's body in a way that is almost celebratory. This design emphasizes moving further away from earlier norms of how women were supposed to dress.
Evening Ensemble by Elsa Schiaparelli
Another design I looked at was “Evening ensemble” by Elsa Schiaparelli. This design was called a “dinner suit”. The jacket was worn with a sleeveless dress underneath. The intention behind Schiaparelli’s design was to change women’s clothing from solely being feminine to incorporating masculinity. The jacket incorporates both feminine and masculine aspects similar to “Ensemble” and “New Look''. The jacket is tailored in a way so that the shoulders are broad but the waist is cinched. The broad shoulders attribute to the masculine aspect, where the cinched waist contrasts it and celebrates feminine curves. The coloring of the jacket is what I found most interesting. The forest green base color of the jacket is more masculine, however, the texture of the jacket alludes to femininity. As well, the detailing of the jacket adds to the feminine aspects- like the embroidery and pink and gold coloring. Also, the shape of the embroidery adds to the illusion of a cinched waist. However, it can also be noted that the intention behind the embroidery was to bring attention to the waist similar to a man's necktie. The gold circular buttons add a sense of boldness to the jacket and don't seem to lean towards a specific gender norm. Again we see a design in which clothing is steering away from gender norms of how women are “supposed to dress” and the incorporation of masculine aspects.
A common theme throughout all three designs is the idea of moving from female dressing norms by incorporating more masculine elements of design. The designs were made to function as a transition from these female normalities of what was expected of them to wear. Taking the form of a blazer, these designs defied gender norms and attributed to the philosophy of changing what was seen as acceptable for women to wear. Rather than wearing dresses and blouses, the incorporation of a blazer into the female wardrobe changes the identity of women being portrayed as soft and fragile. The blazer itself is very structured and adds strength to the identity of females- as well as going against female stereotypes. The emphasis on the transition of very feminine clothing to adding masculine aspects is evident in all three designs. Seeing this type of transitions mainly focused in the early 1900’s shows how design has a lasting impact and how in current day society the way women are supposed to dress now includes much more masculine aspects than ever. The progression through history of the way design has changed through gender and clothing is shown in these designs. These designs exhibited in the Metropolitan Museum directly address identity by emphasizing female and male designs in clothing. The clothing exhibits the aspect of gender in identity and how gender can be conveyed through clothing.
Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA)
© Malena Diez 2021
For my experiential learning assignment, I decided to virtually visit the Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA) in Long Beach, California. Through Google Arts and Culture, I was able to explore and analyze the indoor and outdoor exhibitions. I found this museum most useful to study because I can relate to the exhibits, since I am from Argentina, and thus come from Latin American descent.
Analysis of Form
While visiting the MOLAA, I found that the museum used several forms of expression to illustrate the Latin American culture, including color, methods and materials, and writing systems. As a whole, the museum strived to capture Latin American culture through artwork, aiming to uplift individuals from Latin America and educate those who were not Latinx. For example, the image below depicts the project Chicachio & Giannone: Celebrating Diversity, which was an exhibition in the museum meant to display textile mosaics and flags (Banderas del orgullo) made of 6 different colors. From reading the wall signs, I learned that the rainbow flags (the emblem of LGBTQ+ individuals) represent the collection of Latino artists displaying their part of the LGBTQ+ community. In this particular exhibition, not only were Latino visitors uplifted by seeing Latino artists, but LGBTQ+ visitors can also see an array of inclusive and accepting messages that motivates them to embrace their identity. Through the use of color and by using pieces of materials like fabrics, the exhibit was able to relay positive messages to viewers. Although I am not part of the LGBTQ+ community myself, I was very uplifted when I realized that Hispanic artists had come together as a family to create a beautiful collection of art projects, made to express their pride in their background. In the same way, visitors that are not part of the LGBTQ+ community can also enjoy the exhibition by reading the positive messages on the flags, showing them that they are understood and encouraged to become their own person.
Apart from this colorful exhibition, I noticed that all of the museum’s collections were captioned with a bold, large font in both English and Spanish. This design allows older individuals, who usually have trouble reading small fonts, to be able to easily read the background of the artwork. In addition, visitors who only speak Spanish or English can be able to read the captions. On the other hand, individuals such as tourists who neither speak English or Spanish may have trouble understanding what the artwork is about since they cannot read the signs.
Moreover, the rest of the exhibits also contained activities that the visitors could interact with — thus, the methods and materials they used allowed visitors to become a part of the museum. For example, some parts of the museum had a special activity that related to the history and art depicted in the exhibition. An activity located near the floor (so smaller children could reach it) allowed youngsters to create their own code using symbols as an alphabet. This showed young visitors how different languages could be used and interchanged like Spanish and English is interchanged in many Latin American households in the U.S. This activity particularly stood out to me because growing up in the United States, my language switches between English and Spanish very regularly (code-switching), so seeing this being taught in a museum showed me that several people from Latin America do this as well. Furthermore, this small activity allows children to participate and interact with Latin American history — in other words, the MOLAA creates exhibits that target not only adults but also children. In addition, I found that many of the artworks on display used dark colors and gloomy shadows. One in particular, called Exodo by Arnold Belkin (Exodus in English) showed a man and a woman in dark colors, looking beyond the frame, ready to flee their home country (from what I read in the artwork caption). From my perspective being part of the Latin American community, I concluded that these colors were meant to represent past hardships and historical struggles with emigrating from one’s home country, which is especially common in Hispanic countries. Thus, the use of color allowed me to experience the historical roots of Latin American art, and how these artists persevere to succeed in their careers.
This is a screenshot taken by Malena Diez on April 10th, 2021 of Celebrating Diversity by Giannone and Chiachio (2018). https://molaa.org/molaa-en-casa
Furthermore, the function of the MOLAA is to expose visitors to the history behind Latin American culture and artists. Through several expositions, I personally thought the designers did a great job of highlighting the hardships and culture underneath the hard work of the artists’ artworks. For example, I found the photography exhibition to be the most illustrative of Latin American culture. Coming from an Argentinian family and keeping in mind my semester-long race/ethnicity theme, I appreciated the raw and authentic photographs displayed, especially depicting the strength of Latin American women, as pictured below. Through data visualization on wall graphics and signs, I was able to read about the history of the artworks, but at the same time visualize the background of the exhibits: what did the artist endure to succeed in the United States? How did the artwork come to be? By being able to answer these questions through the emotional artwork itself and the way the information was visualized, I knew the museum was effectively designed to communicate Latin American culture.
MOLAA Photography: Screenshot was taken by Malena Diez on April 14th, 2021. Retrieved from Google Arts & Culture
While virtually exploring the outside and inner rooms of the MOLAA, I was able to find ways in which the design philosophy was comprehending different types of visitors. For example, in the outer gardens, I found that not only were they surrounded by stairs, but they also had sleek ramps intertwined with the stairs. This allows visitors who are physically impaired and in a wheelchair to be able to visit the beautifully designed gardens. Furthermore, the design behind the interior museum exhibitions helped guide visitors on a journey step-by-step through Latin culture. By implementing the personal thoughts, opinions, and ideas of Latin American artists, the museum was able to offer a genuine view of Latin culture because they asked for help from authentic, Latin individuals. This shows how it succeeded in creating a functional and realistic design.
Outer MOLAA gardens: Screenshot was taken by Malena Diez on April 14th, 2021 of the outer garden of the MOLAA taken from Google Arts & Culture
Overall, this museum exceeded my expectations by being able to provide an authentic view of Latin American culture. I personally think visitors from different races and ethnicities could be able to connect with the hardships that Latin Americans face while trying to succeed in their home country.
Columbus Museum of Art Exhibition: Art After Stonewall 1969-1989
© Zoe Catalera 2021
The Columbus Museum of Art, located in Ohio, hosts many art exhibitions and events; which brings visitors from around the world. This museum gained my attention through their exhibition titled: Art After Stonewall 1969-1989. This exhibition was one of the first major collections of artwork that examined the impacts of the LGBTQ+ liberation movement on visual culture. The artwork included in this exhibition was created during the two decades that followed that raid of the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar located in New York City’s Greenwich village. The raid resulted in riots and protests, which are now referred to as the Stonewall riots. It is now clear that the Stonewall riots acted as a call for queer visibilty and self expression, a call in which many artists explored in Art After Stonewall 1969-1989. Unfortunately, I was unable to visit this museum in person due to the distance and risks of traveling due to the ongoing pandemic. However, I was able to view the exhibition through the Columbus Museum of Art website, as well as videos of the exhibition that are posted on the Columbus Museum of Art youtube channel. Therefore, the analysis of the exhibition will be based on the website’s format, as well as the format of the exhibition that is perceived through the videos on youtube.
The online format of the Columbus Museum of Art’s website makes it simple to see the design choices that influence the form of the exhibition, and these design choices impact my experience. The exhibition page on the museum’s website uses the monochrome colors of the greyscale, as the background is white and the text is a dark shade of gray. In addition, the banner image at the top of the page consists of monochromatic colors of the grayscale. The monochromatic design of the exhibition page aids in my viewing of the artwork and information, as the color scheme is not distracting from the information and images that are presented. In addition, the website effectively organizes the content of the exhibition by separating the artwork into thematic genres. More specifically, the artwork is divided into seven major themes titled “Coming Out”, “Sexual Outlaws”, “Uses of the Erotic”, “Gender Play”, “Things Are Queer”, “AIDS and Activism”, and “We’re Here!”. These themes are separated on the online exhibition page by utilizing headers of the theme name with capitalized, bold font. The same font is used on the museum walls when displaying the theme name, which can be seen in the photos on the website.
Banner Image of Exhibition Page, containing Gloria & Charmaine by Joan E Biren, 1979, Image Link
Since I was viewing this exhibition online, it was difficult to see the overall function of the design choices made; however, the youtube video titled “Art After Stonewall Tour with Nina West” on the Columbus Museum of Art channel provided a new understanding that was not obtained through the website. The organization of the exhibition made the most impact on my experience. Not only did the organization of themes demonstrate the development of the LGBTQ+ liberation movement, but it also highlighted the moods and emotions of those stages. The “Coming Out” section was a space of celebration, as it contained artwork that demonstrated the act of leaving the oppressive closet of secrecy and acknowledging one’s identity. The “Uses of the Erotic” section was a space of artwork that celebrates queer artists’ use of desire and erotism as a source for creativity. “Gender Play” contains artwork that celebrates a world where gender identities and sexualities were becoming more fluid, as the idea that one’s gender identity is not reflected by their sexuality was becoming more accepted and understood. The “Things Are Queer” section demonstrated defiance, featuring artwork reclaiming the word “queer”, a term that was used as a slur againt the LGBTQ+ community, to resist social and sexual categorizations. “Sexual Outlaws'' also highlights defiance as the shocking artwork in this section fights the repressive systems that govern sexual behavior. Although this exhibition celebrates the progress that the LGBTQ+ community has made, there has been immense tragedy and loss along the way. The “AIDS and Activism” section is a space that emphasizes the tragedy of the AIDS epidemic that devastated the LGBTQ+ community. There is also a mood of assertiveness, targeting the government’s silence and lack of help caused by homophobia. Lastly, the “We’re Here!” section demonstrates and assertiveness that encourages viewers to keep working to end the oppression and prejudice against the LGBTQ+ community. David Wojnarowicz’s artwork is shown in this section, as his work demonstrates the difficult life that he grew up in as a gay boy. This artwork brings a sense of tragedy due to the difficult aspects of life that targets the LGBTQ+ community; but more importantly, this artwork brings a call for change.
Untitled (One day this kid...), David Wojnarowicz, 1990, Video with Image Link
The design of Art After Stonewall 1969-1989 is extremely inclusive. The range of media in this exhibition is wide, as there are fine artworks such as paintings, sculptures, and drawings; but there are also artworks that are not considered fine art such as photographs, posters, comic books, pamphlets, shirts, accessories, and furniture. The exhibition contains everyday items, as these items are important because they serve as evidence of the development of the LGBTQ+ liberation movement. In addition, this exhibition is inclusive of the diversity of voices that are being presented. The curator found it to be important to find artwork from artists of all backgrounds. White, especially male, artists were creating and selling the most artwork during the time of the LGBTQ+ liberation movement. However, there were also many artists of different backgrounds that were creating and selling artwork during that time, the curator just had to dig deeper into the art world to find them. In the final exhibition, artists of many backgrounds, such as people of color, transgender and disabled artists, had their artwork presented. It took people of all backgrounds to generate progress in the LGBTQ+ movement, so people of all backgrounds were presented in this exhibition.
As a queer woman, I appreciated the amount of artists and artwork that went into this exhibition. This exhibition captured the history, moods and emotions that were felt, and that are still felt, by the LGBTQ+ community. I am privileged to have been raised by a supportive family, and to have been raised in a community with more support than there was in the two decades after the Stonewall Riots. Art After Stonewall 1969-1989 spread awareness and honored the progress that has been made, but we need to continue to end the prejudice and oppression of the LGBTQ+ community.
Drive ‘N Drag: Tampa
© Gavin Coe 2021
The Drive ‘N Drag show that took place in Tampa Bay on February 24, 2021 at the Westfield Mall in Brandon, Florida. This event was a drag show tour, however, because of the pandemic many changes had to be made to confine within the safety precautions needed during the Covid-19 crisis. To abide by the safety concerns, they transformed a regular drag show into a drive-in type of event, where everyone was confined to the space of their vehicle and the surrounding area. There were also many food trucks and temporary bathrooms set up so that throughout the entirety of the show you were not stuck permanently in your own bubble. Being a gay man born and raised in a small conservative town, drag was something I had never even heard of until moving to Gainesville. Since then I have fallen in love with the art of drag. From self-expression to the creativity, seeing people enjoy their art and be comfortable with themselves is a very inspiring experience that will change your perspective on what actually makes you happy. Overall, this event was very entertaining, welcoming, and safe considering it was executed in the midst of the pandemic.
The design as a form for this event had a main focus of keeping the audience and the performers as safe as possible. For this to come to fruition, they had the stage set up in the very front with a pretty large margin before the first row of cars. Cars were lined up in large horizontal rows, which allowed for everyone to get a view of the stage without the vehicle in front of them hindering their view. Also, there were many exit rows so in case of an emergency there were clear exits established for the vehicles. The form of this environment made it so everyone felt safe and comfortable during the performances, while still abiding by the safety precautions that were mandated. The stage also included two jumbo screens to ensure that the people in further rows could still enjoy the show. Unfortunately, there were no subtitles displayed on the screens, which could have made it more difficult for the audience members to enjoy. A local radio station was synced with the performance, so if you felt more comfortable sitting in your car you could still listen to the songs and comedy. The design form of this event was very precautious while still maintaining the integrity that a drag show holds. The design as a form for this event allowed for people to be open and enjoy the show, while still being safe and comfortable in the current environment.
The function of this public space was to be surrounded by like-minded people who all came together to watch and show support for something they enjoy. Naturally, there was a large LGBTQ+ presence at the show, because drag is such a large part of the culture within the community. For me, this was the first time I had been surrounded by so many people who were also members of the LGBTQ+ community. It is very inspirational seeing how so many people can come together to celebrate something they love so much. However, there were also many audience members who do not identify within the LGBTQ+ community, but still came to watch and support the show. Being a gay man who grew up in a very conservative town, seeing this many people who all are accepting of themselves and who came together to enjoy something they love no matter the circumstances was very inspirational. Essentially, that is what you gain from the experience of a drag show. You get to witness everyone being comfortable in their own skin, regardless of gender, race, or sexual orientation. Drag queens know they are a pillar within the LGBTQ+ community, so being able to put on performances in such dire times carries a big weight for their fans. For some, drag is a way to escape themselves and become someone else, but for the audience, it is a chance to watch and enjoy someone being loved for who they are, and that love spreads throughout the crowd.
The concepts and ideas that this event encompassed are nothing short of what you would expect. With the ongoing pandemic, it is no secret that people have been lacking excitement and positivity. With Drive ‘N Drag: Tampa Bay, there was no lack of positivity anywhere. Since drag is a form of self-expression, the queens are able to tell stories and display their emotions through their performances. The slogan for the show was “Drive ‘N Drag Saves 2021” which is a very fitting caption. From this you can tell that their philosophy is to enjoy your time while you are there and do not worry about the future. Being able to enjoy the present times without worry is something anyone can enjoy. Also, drag is an art, so being able to express your creativity is something that is also very important. Being an architecture major, creativity is a very important part of my academic lifestyle. Making sure my designs are both inclusive and diverse is very important to me, so seeing that this drag show was both very diverse, audience and queens included, while also being inclusive to the LGBTQ+ community and any allies was inspiring.
Ultimately, the experience of attending Drive ‘N Drag: Tampa Bay was unforgettable. Although it was not a traditional drag show, the encompassing values and traditions remained the same. From self-expression to safety, nothing was left out of the performances and venue. Being able to be in your own exclusive space allowed for more intimacy between you and the queens, since you did not have to fight your way to the front in order to see the performances. The food trucks and gender neutral bathrooms allowed for an inclusive and welcoming environment, making sure everyone was comforted and prepared. Local radio stations tuning in so you could hear the performances inside your car made people who are at higher risk feel safer, since they did not have to exit their vehicle. Most importantly, the show established a connection. Whether you are a member of the LGBTQ+ community, or just love the art of drag, everyone in the audience was there to witness and enjoy the same thing. Being gay myself, this was the first event I had ever attended in which I felt comfortable expressing myself fully, and not fearing the judgement of others. Drive ‘N Drag: Tampa Bay was an unforgettable experience that established safety, comfort, and connection in a positive and enjoyable way.
Kanapaha Botanical Gardens
© Student Designer 2021
The Kanapaha Botanical Gardens, located in Gainesville, Florida takes visitors on a self-guided journey through their beautiful landscapes and nature facilities. In addition to its bamboo display, herb garden, flower beds and butterfly garden it also borders Lake Kanapaha. These botanical gardens are not only strategically designed in its beautiful display, but also celebrates the Timucua Indian tribe, where the word Kanapaha which means “palm leaves and house” comes from. As someone who was visiting for a nice Sunday stroll with no expectations, I was able to observe the gardens with an open mind.
When visitors first enter the outdoor facilities they are greeted with a hand-held map. The map in its design and font looks similar to one in the movies when pirates are looking for lost treasure. There are no tour guides or paths suggested to be followed in chronological order; only a map and the option to turn right or left. To the right of the gardens are massive bamboo displays, providing shade for those looking to sit and rest. There are also fascinating herb gardens, flowers, arboretums and sinkholes. Every flower, herb plant, sinkhole and most nature on display is labeled with a name and short description on a black plaque with sophisticated, gold lettering. Located on the left side of the gardens are more plants such as bulbs and butterfly gardens as well as waterfalls and ponds filled with colorful, vibrant Koi fish. After passing through each of the gardens exhibits, it becomes apparent that some of Kanapaha's gardens are organized taxonomically whereas others demonstrate principles of ecology or natural selection. Lastly, the grand exhibit of the Lake Kanapaha features a breathtaking view of miles and miles worth of marshes and greenery. Viewers are able to stand elevated to gain a better view which enhances the experience.
Taking a closer look at its overall layout, the gardens are very spacious. Visitors have the freedom to walk in the grass and fields adjacent to the actual exhibits, or use the paths to navigate their way. This design communicates that the experience is independent and subject to the visitor’s personal preferences. The reference of the map of the botanical gardens being likened to a pirates map was intended to create the idea of a journey. Just as pirates use maps to look for treasure or navigate their ships, visitors are able to use the map to find their way to the sites and exhibits they want to see. An important element of the botanical gardens, as well, is the remembrance and celebration of the Timucua Indian Tribe. The significance of the words "palm leaves” and “house” refer to the thatched dwellings the Timucua Indians built along the shorelines of the lake long ago. This element ties in perfectly with my theme for the entire semester which was Race and Ethnicity. Not only was the garden named after a word that derived from the tribe, but a large feature of the gardens is Lake Kanapaha where visitors can appreciate the Indians previous dwellings from afar or use a trail to walk right up to it (it is Gainesville, so at their own risk of being in close proximity to the alligators). There is also a gift shop that is shelved with various Indian treasures and original art that is available for purchase. The identity of tribal Indian culture is present, however, this cultural theme does not consume the experience where those of different backgrounds feel unwelcome or out of place. I felt very welcomed and honored to be there. The low price of the tickets for entry and membership subscription options also communicate the inclusivity of all ages, genders, cultures and economic classes.
The idea behind the botanical gardens and layout of the trails was created with the well-being of the visitors in mind. It promotes physical health, education, and is even a popular venue for wedding parties, meetings, retreats, conferences and other social functions. The facility is sixty-eight acres with a one and a half mile paved trail, offering only walking tours. This allows visitors to be healthy and get a good workout in without even realizing because they’re so captivated by the beautiful nature. It also functions to educate those who visit by providing plaques with labels and descriptions at each site. It is no wonder it is such a popular venue spot because of its charm and spaciousness. In fact, Kanapaha Botanical Gardens hosts many special events throughout the year including a Bamboo Sale and North Central Florida's premier horticultural event, the Spring Garden Festival, and their famous Moonlight Walk. With the exception of their special events, dogs and picnic baskets are permitted. This makes visitors feel at home and comfortable being able to bring their favorite foods and furry friends to accompany them on their nature adventure. One might ask themselves, “If it is a walking tour, is it accessible to handicapped individuals?” The answer is yes. I noticed Kanapaha's walkways are largely wheelchair accessible and benches, gazebos and other rest areas are spaced throughout the facility. The space is meant to be a place for the people. Whether you are visiting to observe the beautiful plants and nature, learn more about the Timucua Indian tribe, get a scenic walk in, or host an event, the botanical gardens are meant to foster happiness and welfare to anyone and everyone.
After visiting this public space, it is easy to see what kind of space the designers of the Kanapaha Botanical Gardens wanted it to be through its design, form, function and philosophy. The antique lettering on the plaque and classically-styled map contribute to its sophistication and timelessness. The gazebos, arboretums and overwhelming bamboo structures create a sanctuary-like place for people looking to reflect and rest. The wide open areas, spaciousness and option to walk along the path or amongst the fields of grass supports the idea of the independent journey visitors are encouraged to have. The permit of dogs and picnic baskets makes visitors feel more comfortable and at home. The inclusion and honoring of the Timucua Indian tribe pay tribute while also informing people, myself included, of what used to be the natives’ home. Lastly, the versatility of the space for daily tours, special events, and celebration venues facilities the idea that nature is meant to be admired and used in our everyday lives. The Kanapaha Botanical gardens is a space of inclusivity with the intent of celebrating nature, honoring Indian culture, and welcoming all kinds of visitors for all kinds of reasons.
Photos by the author:
View of Lake Kanapaha
World’s largest Herb Garden
Pond filled with Koi fish
Sources used: https://kanapaha.org
Starry Night Encounter and Hi-Point Contact
© Student Designer 2021
For my Experiential Learning Essay, I wanted to analyze and explore the works of one of my biggest artistic inspirations, Michiko Itatani, through a virtual tour of two of her past exhibits titled Starry Night Encounter at Linda Warren Projects and Hi-Point Contact presented at the Zhou B. Art Center. Collections of the artwork displayed as well as contemporary photographs of the exhibits themselves are comprehensively maintained through the Virtual Asian American Art Museum. I specifically wanted to delve into the works of Michiko Itatani as I felt that her mediums and processes perfectly embody the goals of our class. Just as we try to be more aware of how design informs how we perceive ourselves, Itatani’s art is in and of itself a dissection of her own identity and story. I am approaching my analysis by addressing the formal elements and principles of art and then seeing how Itatani employs these design qualities to convey her identity. I hope that through an analysis of how she depicts herself through her artwork as well as how her works are curated, I can get a better sense of my own identity through themes that are reflected in my own experiences as an Asian-American immigrant who is now studying the arts.
Upon looking through the exhibit Starry Night Encounter, one of the most distinctive features of how space is organized is that many sections incorporate a wide range of sizes of artwork. As the exhibit is meant to be a comprehensive retrospective of Itatani’s work, we get a great sense of how scale plays an important role in expressing identity. While one section may be composed of monumental murals, it was not uncommon to see miniature paintings about the size of a throw pillow right next to it. I found this juxtaposition to be quite apt when we consider Itatani’s position as a kind of an underdog in her own story and the duality of her personality. Though she may be an artistic giant, this grandiose status is undercut by her meek and humble disposition. I also feel that this variance in the scale of her works could be a product of wanting to challenge one’s expectations by trying to break the mold of one’s identity.
"Starry Night Encounter" Solo Exhibition at Linda Warren Projects, Chicago, 2016
Upon further research, I found that Itatani was a sickly child who was unable to do many of the things the kids her age enjoyed. This translated to later stages in her life where she was often told that she would not even make it to adulthood. By choosing to create massive works of art in her old age, I think this is her way of proving to others and more importantly herself, that she cannot be confined to certain notions of who she “should” be and instead strives to be what she can be. In terms of how I perceived the space, these shifts and seemingly arbitrary organization at times illustrate the multi-faceted nature of identity. I did not feel too overwhelmed by the sheer size of some of the murals because there were the smaller pieces that helped provide a visual balance to the exhibits. We are not just composed of large overarching caricatures of ourselves, but instead are also products of small nuances that differentiate us from others in interesting and meaningful ways.
I think that Starry Night Encounter and Hi-Point Contact serve as a novel of sorts in which Itatani employs her artistic stylings to construct a visual tapestry of how identities can change which all individuals can empathize with. While she does certainly pull from her own experiences to inform how she visually communicates with her art, I think that the themes they represent are meant to be universal messages about the human experience. I feel that she accomplishes this masterfully by not only using a wide variety of sizes, as discussed before but also through the variety of atmospheres she creates with each piece. She explores countless scenes and spaces, and her visual library takes viewers from one location to another. While one work may be set in a tranquil forest scene, another may transport you amid an intergalactic war or into her interpretation of the human mind. Though ultimately grounded in the powerful graphic mark making and hard-edged shapes that are seen throughout her work in the exhibitions, I often envisioned myself in her works as if each canvas acted as a kind of portal into each scene of the visual novel. Because of the universality of her works, I was able to resonate with some visual cues of her work. In particular, her piece HyperCharge, which incorporated designs that emulated the American flag and of Moby Dick called out to me as her depiction of the ambitions and desires that come with the classic immigrant story.
Michiko Itatani, HyperCharge, from the series Encounter HCE-1, 2015, oil on canvas, 78” x 92.5”. Courtesy of the Zhou B. Art Center.
Reflection and Conclusion
When I first came to America, it was very overwhelming trying to assimilate to a completely new culture and language. As I grew up and began to realize that I did not want to follow the traditional career goals that were set out for me and to instead pursue the arts, I looked to other Asian Americans, like Itatani who also chose to walk a path of great resistance as sources of inspiration. When I analyze design, the most important features that I look out for are how designs convey empathy and humanity. Consequently, when I do research on cultural figures or institutions, the appeal for me is just as much about the aesthetics as it is the story that drives the work. In the future, I hope to continue learning and studying from the works of others so that I can grow and incorporate my own life experiences into my art just as Itatani has in Starry Night Encounter and Hi-Point Contact. Ultimately, Itatani’s holistic approach in capturing scenes that people of all backgrounds can relate to, while using scenes of her own life as inspiration, succeeds in fostering an experience that is simultaneously intimate and human.
Ichetucknee Springs State Park
© Student Designer 2021
Ichetucknee Springs is a Florida state park which can be experienced in many ways by everyone who goes there. The design of the park was experienced by me, a person with an identity different and similar from others who experience the attractions at Ichetucknee. Design can be analyzed by examining form, function and philosophy of the park through the lens of the person who experiences it. The accessibility of gender differences is a very important part of design everywhere. My observations can show a little glimpse of how the park addresses female accessibility as well as caters to other pieces of my identity.
Personally, my initial impression as I drove up to the parking lot was that I was glad it was very open spaced and it wasn’t overly crowded. I think that an important thing to think about when designing a space because there was room for everyone basically and it didn’t look too hectic. When you go to the park, you have to pay using a little blue envelope which is one thing I thought was unusual because you couldn't use a credit or debit card. As this is my preferred method of payment, I wasn’t prepared with the exact amount of cash we needed to enter. My friends and I decided to go through the trail after parking to get to the river which was a little scary due to my fear of bugs (specifically spiders which appeared often in my encounter), although I figured there would be bugs in a Florida park. A trolley is available for those who may prefer/need it due to disabilities. The walk down the trail that we took was about 30 minutes, so trolleys are a useful tool for people, unlike me, who cannot walk for that long. The typography of the signs along our journey through the woods was very neutral and can attract all genders. It was not too bold or small and delicate, it was more straight and simple so it attracted everyone. There are also restrooms accessible to both females and males in the entrance and at the end of the tubing ride down the river. I think this could be improved on to include more options for gender neutral people or others who do not fit the gender binary. Lastly, the three different trails and rivers that are available are completely quiet and full of calming colors, such as light blue, green and brown. These colors are attractive to all genders and can make anyone feel at peace.
The river and the restrooms building, photos by me (2021).
In my experience, I noticed that mostly everything was functioning the way I believed it was intended to. An example of this is the trails and trolley were functioning as modes of transportation. I noticed on the park’s website that the river was very open and it’s intended for people to relax while going through the river. The difference in reality was that there were many fallen tree branches and logs that took up a great deal of space of the river. As a group that went together, one issue we faced was trying to stay together while facing a sort of obstacle course.
This is an image of my friends and I attempting to stay together, taken by me (2021).
As a shorter female, I had a difficult time trying to reach over the tubes to steer myself out of the way of the branches. Although, these tubes seem to function for all gender identities and are a great way for all people to try to relax in the water. There are maps as well around the park which were very helpful in directing my group who are tourists and don’t know the area very well.I think that the functional design of the park and formatting of the environment works really well for all gender identities, people from ages 15-60, and tourists which is what I believe is the targeted audience.
Speaking from my own and my friends’ perspectives, the park was extremely well designed in order to provide an entertaining social experience which attracts everyone, especially of any particular gender identity. The design is universal to everyone except for the gender binary restrooms which may exclude certain people from coming to this park if they don’t have a safe space to use the restroom. This is a crucial component of the design because the park tickets for parking are for all day. Therefore, non-binary or transgender people would have to use the restroom at sone point and this inconvenience is something that may deter them from attending. Another observation I made was that the river does not have lifeguards, which is okay for me because I am able to swim, but people who cannot swim may be fearful of coming to a long river that they are not protected from drowning. The tubes used for tubing are rentals which are sustainable since people don’t have to purchase their own tubes made from harmful materials to our environment. Lastly, the parking tickets and rentals are fairly inexpensive which allows a larger range of people to come. People only pay six dollars for parking and six for tube rentals which can be good for the whole day. People are able to encounter a diverse population of people here and spend lots of time without stressing about not being financially able to attend diverse social events.
Overall my experience with my own identity combined with the identities of my friends, I was able to see what components were included as well as excluded that may have altered our experience. Design has a purpose and that is to make an experience the audience has accessible to people of all types. A big factor in the design process is to include all gender identities which I think was mostly accomplished through the philosophy, the form, and the function of the park.
United States Holocaust Museum
© Student Designer 2021
I chose to take the opportunity provided by the experiential learning essay to explore the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. This Museum was founded in the year 1980 and is located in the United States Capitol, Washington D.C. I chose to explore the museum virtually and I was incredibly impressed with the depth of experience I was able to achieve remotely. The website provides a great virtual tour that highlights the best elements offered by the museum all from the comfort and safety of your home. In particular, I appreciated the quality of the images and the immersive descriptions provided. These elements allowed me to appreciate the form, function, and philosophy intended by the designers of this museum. Following the completion of my virtual tour, I can certainly say that I gained an incredible new understanding of the Holocaust and the lived experiences of those impacted.
Upon beginning the virtual tour I was able to instantly appreciate the incredible amount of thought that the designers put into the form of the museum. In particular, the typography utilized by the designers communicated an incredible amount of information. For example, in the image pictured below, the simple words, “The Holocaust” are displayed on a wall in a simplistic font, however, as a viewer, I instantly recognized the far greater level of meaning intended.
Image of typography within the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum designed by James Ingo Freed (1980)
Foremost, the words are sunken into the walls, this allows them to have a very deep black color yet still be clearly visible. From my perspective, this sunken in nature of the letters communicates the despair felt by those persecuted within the Holocaust. Furthermore, the letters are placed upon a bland concrete background. To me, this communicated the bleak outlook that those contained within the concentration camps felt. This theme of intentional design permeates through the entirety of the museum. Every exhibit features far more communication than is immediately apparent through the effective use of subliminal communication. Interestingly, I was able to find many connections between the despair felt within the Holocaust and the economic despair that I explored in many of my observation blogs this year. In each instance, those negatively impacted do not have the ability or means to resolve their situation. Ultimately, the result of this is often hopelessness, each group feels as though there will be no salvation and is forced to give up hope. Fortunately, there was an end to the Holocaust, yet, economic despair has yet to be resolved within this country, or any other country for that matter.
Participating in my tour of the Holocaust Memorial Museum virtually is what I believe allowed me to fully appreciate the function offered by design. Though there may be no substitute for actually visiting a cultural institution in person, remote experiences still have so much to offer. In particular, I appreciated the ease with which wayfinding through the museum’s exhibits was possible. For example, simple icons such as the menu tab in the top left corner of the image below allowed me to navigate through important features of the museum’s website such as art collections, general museum exhibits, and further education options.
This is an image of The Homepage of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (2021)
Furthermore, the search bar in the top left corner of the image above facilitated the personalization of my tour. For instance, in accordance with my research theme for this semester, I was interested in finding out more about the economic ramifications of the Holocaust. Simply searching, “economic” allowed me to learn more about how even prior to being forced into concentration camps, Jews were excluded from German economic life. Their businesses were shut down or destroyed and many of their assets were seized. This economic persecution prevented them from potentially insulating themselves from the disaster around them or even fleeing. When I discovered these facts, I was personally horrified and I began to better understand how trapped the persecuted citizens of Germany must have felt.
Throughout the museum, I noticed a recurring theme that I interpreted as; finding hope among despair. This aforementioned hope could take the form of a family member you want to see again or even a career path that you hope to continue to pursue. The important thing is that you have something that helps you to keep pushing even when times are tough. I have certainly learned the value of hope in my own life. When I have been faced with adversity, such as enduring extensive lockdowns as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic I have learned to turn to things such as music or art to help me keep pushing. When everything seems to be too much you can just put on a good song or watch your favorite movie and everything seems far more bearable. Though a lengthy lockdown in no way compares to the horrible atrocities Jews were forced to endure during the Holocaust, the same principle exists.
This is an image of The Blue Skies Project by Anton Kusters (2012-2018)
One of the most obvious examples of this philosophy within the museum was the “Blue Skies Project” by Anton Kusters. This project pictured above is displayed within the museum and exhibits hundreds of photos of skies above every known concentration camp. This design intentionally communicates the philosophy of finding some form of hope through the peaceful nature of a beautiful blue sky. As I observed these images I couldn’t help but think how unassuming they appeared. Without context, it would be impossible to know that they witnessed the killing of literally millions of innocent people. From my perspective, this communicates the connection that all humans have through the sky and that no matter how bad things may seem, we are all there for each other.
In conclusion, I thoroughly enjoyed my experience taking a virtual tour of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. It was very clear to me that the designers spent a great deal of time considering not only the form but also the function and philosophy behind their design. Foremost, the design form within the museum communicates the feelings that the designer intended the museum-goer to experience. Furthermore, the design function within the museum allowed the viewer or visitor to tailor their visit to individual wants and needs. Finally, the design philosophy within the museum allowed me as a visitor to appreciate the bigger picture behind the museum exhibits. I appreciated the opportunity to take a closer look at one of our world’s most valuable resources, museums. With the current pandemic conditions, I intend to continue to explore the plethora of virtual experiences available to me. Ultimately, in our modern world full of chaos we must take the time to appreciate all the incredible educational opportunities available to us.
Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention
© Joshua Fosen 2021
The Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention and Depot Park, adjacent to the museum; floor plan below.
For my experiential learning activity, I virtually visited the Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention (per CDC guidelines) and walked through the adjacent Depot Park. Both places were designed to complement each other through the interconnectedness of human innovation and the natural environment. One of the overarching themes of this place is the question of where the inspiration for human design and innovation comes from.
The Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention was named in honor of Dr. James Robert Cade, a professor of renal medicine at the University of Florida (cademuseum.org). Cade was the lead inventor of Gatorade and is also known for his contributions to other scientific and medical accomplishments. The Museum is different from the average gallery or exhibition because it strives to inspire and educate the younger generations to participate in creative invention by engaging the audience, rather than spectating. The physical structure of the building is also unique, greatly contrasting from the “white cube” gallery aesthetic. The building has a large, round rotunda at the center with rooms protruding somewhat unsymmetrically. I believe this form reflects how innovation and creativity comes from thinking outside the constraints of what is accepted and normalized. The first floor includes rooms named Fab Lab, Creativity Lab, and Sweat Solution. The second floor includes galleries of famous inventors and entrepreneurs and their work. This serves the purpose to educate, inspire, and engage the audience to stimulate a creative desire to learn and innovate. The building also conveys a sense of modernism through its abstract style, orange and grey palate, and steel and glass construction. This conveys the message of looking toward the future, a future of which you are an active designer.
A primary function of the Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention is to rebrand the idea of the typical inventor/designer. Looking back in history, most of the inventors we learn about are often wealthy, well-educated white men. This has the effect of creating a stereotype of who can be an inventor that is often disseminated through the generations as they are educated on human history. The Cade Museum strives to challenge this stereotype by encouraging the younger generations that anyone can be an inventor, an innovator, a designer. The Cade Museum has different rooms on the first floor with educational activities which engage the visitors in creative, innovative, and inventive design. These function to demonstrate how anyone can be involved in innovation.
Just outside of the Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention is a lovely place called Depot Park. Today it is a great place to take a stroll, have a picnic, or take your kids to fly kites. Just a few decades ago it was quite a different place. The site of Depot Park was originally a rail yard, and the soil was severely contaminated from neighboring industrial operations (depotpark.org). The transformation of this site shows the capability of the human spirit of innovation, and how it can be used for good. Human innovation had overwhelmingly negative effects on the environment during the industrial revolution, and much development is perceived as mankind conquering the natural environment. Today, Depot Park and other examples show how mankind and nature can be in harmony, not competition. Some of humanity's greatest scientific and medical breakthroughs result from biomimicry and inspiration of nature’s solutions. Depot Park serves as an important counterpart to the Cade Museum because it helps demonstrate another component of human innovation and inspiration.
The Cade Museum and Depot Park serve to express multiple philosophies as core elements of their design. The Cade Museum strives to show how design itself can be universal and democratic. The power of invention and innovation does not only lie in the hands of the rich and powerful but is a tool that can be used by all. The key to invention is creativity, education, inspiration, and collaboration. Depot Park serves as an example of sustainable design. Originally, the site was a source of major pollution and contamination, posing a human health risk and harming the health of the environment. However, the City of Gainesville used it as an opportunity to remediate the site and create a new green space. This changed the function of the site to a place that benefitted the health of the community and environment in a sustainable way.
My research theme for this class over the past semester was focused on how Nationality affects design and identity. Over the course of this class, I observed how National identity contributes to design by incorporating shared values that are unique to specific countries/ethnicities. This is the way in which Nationality generally affects the form and philosophy of design. When design is used to accommodate different Nationalities—such as offering different language options or menu items that are culturally sensitive—this is how the functionality of design is affected by nationality. After visiting the Cade Museum, my overall impressions were that the form and function of the design somewhat ignores national identities, but that it was very important to the philosophy of design. The form of the building style is modernist and so ignores cultural varieties of building style. However, the mission of the institution, to empower and equip the younger generations to be creative inventors and innovators, addresses nationality in its philosophy by emphasizing how anyone can be an innovator, designer, or inventor, including any nationality. The galleries and events specifically give examples of inventors from different nations.
As a University Student in a STEM major, this institution stands out to me by expressing the idea that anyone can harness the tool of creativity and innovation. Often at college, I feel that my entire life is dedicated to learning about the methods and discoveries of previous scholars, and little of my education focuses on discovering new solutions and perspectives. The Cade Museum emphasizes the importance of empowering all people to become an agent of change for the benefit of mankind.
The Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention and Depot Park are unique examples of how design can serve a purpose greater than pure functionality. The form, function, and philosophy of the design all contribute to the overall impression the visitors experience, and nationality is addressed through the philosophy of design. This analysis has given me a greater appreciation for the purpose of the Cade Museum and what it is doing for younger generations and the Gainesville community.
Harn Museum of Art
© Ryan Freeman 2001
The Harn Museum of Art is located in the UF Cultural Plaza which is the area the Butterfly Gardens are. The Harn Museum has many different exhibitions and they change these exhibits at times varying from 3 months to two or three years. The Harn offers a wide variety of beautiful exhibits ranging from Korean pottery and art to exhibits focusing on women artists. All of the pieces of art have their own background and story that the design of the building itself helps make the experience for the audience.
I took my journey to the Harn with a few friends, but we decided that we would all kind of split up and meet up at the gift shop at the end of our experience. This helped me personally because it allowed me to go at my own pace and take notes for this essay. I went into the museum with the expectation to see a lot of nature paintings and not a lot of cultural pieces, which I was wrong about. Growing up in a military family, I was always moving to different places which have helped me keep an open mind to all cultures and their beliefs and customs. Having this background helped me have a background in some of the cultural exhibits in the museum such as the Korean exhibit as well as the Global Perspectives exhibit as many of the pieces I have experiences with from my past. Having a neutral mindset about these exhibits really helped me to interpret them as their own art forms and culture. This was definitely an experience that I learned from as I look back I realize that an open mind is necessary for design and art, because art and design will never fit your expectation of it, but if you keep an open mind and curb your expectations, you will see its true beauty and purpose.
The entrance of the museum was plain and boring when I first approached the building, which made me worried about just how much art there would be inside. However, upon entering the building, it seemed as if the entire room exploded with space. The large glass windows let in so much light that the entire room was filled with bright light.
An image of the entrance to the Harn Museum of Art at University of Florida - Directory Taken by Harn Museum of Art
The first exhibit I entered was the Global Perspectives exhibit, which was a great introduction to the museum. It really showed the culture and the variety that the museum had to offer. This exhibit had two pieces that really stood out to me. They were African paintings of normal people, but the style was done in a way that made it seem as though the painting was a royal portrait. The colors and patterns of the pieces contrast against the white walls as the red, yellow, and orange patterns put the subjects of the painting at the focus. The roof of this exhibit and part of the building were especially high, which I enjoyed because it made the room feel less public and busy, causing the room to feel more empty. The feeling of the empty room helped put me in the right mindset to see this art without outside intrusions on my perspectives on the art pieces. This exhibit set the tone for the other exhibits. The form of the exhibits were all pretty similar, with most of the artwork on the show being put on the walls of the museum with a couple having their own pedestals in the middle and plenty of space between pieces.
What I really enjoyed about the museum setup was the two gardens that are attached to the outside of the museum because they added a break from looking at depictions of nature and instead put you directly in a beautiful scene. The two gardens were very close to one another and they were both parts of the Asian highlights exhibit. There are two smaller gardens to the side of the exhibition hall as well as a larger garden sandwiched between the Contemporary Highlights exhibit and the Modern Highlights exhibit. This allowed for a break that functioned as a break from the other exhibits and a nice view and feel of outside. After seeing the outside beauty of the museum, I was able to see how it functioned differently from the inside of the museum. This break from going outside and looking around at real nature refreshed my mind before going back into the museum to view more art pieces. This break is designed to help keep the audience engaged in the museum pieces by adding a small outdoor walk with some fresh air and a light viewing of a nature scene.
Photo of the Harn Rock Garden by Martin McKellar
The underlying message that I took away from the design of the Harn is from the actual layout of the Harn. The walk paths actually are very scattered and I kind of just wandered from exhibit to exhibit with no real planned path. I wandered first into the contemporary highlights and then kind of just went to whichever exhibit caught my eye first. This really helped my way through the exhibits to hit everything in the exhibits because I would spot a piece that captured my eye and go to it. This underlying design that I didn’t realize I had partaken in.
Map provided by the Harn Museum of Art (2021)
The museum seems like a labyrinth from the map above, but the walk is much more simple to follow and without a real path, I felt more engaged with the art as I felt like I had the freedom to choose which parts I wanted to view, while others that didn’t catch my eye as much I got to anyway. This random type of path I took was intentional from the design team that designed the Harn. It was designed this way so that the pieces aren’t just lined up on the wall to walk down and view, it was more like a jungle safari that took exploring to find the different pieces. The design layout made it more memorable and a more personal experience for me.
My experience in the Harn was very memorable and I am hoping to take my friends and family when they get the chance to come. The Harn’s design was purposeful and meaningful to my experience from the gardens to the feel of the museum, the Harn is a great example of where design and art meet to create a beautiful experience of enjoying art through the work of design.
The National Museum of Computing
© Student Designer 2021
The National museum of Computing in England is a compact museum with the intent of showing the evolution of computing technology to the state it is in today. It shows how both hardware and software have been improved upon and become integrated within our lives while immersing guests within a physical timeline seen through the displays and compact spaces respectively, an experience I felt even through the online interface.
Contrasting my initial assumptions before entering, the museum is a rather compact building, using small hallways and often crowded feeling exhibitions. The museum Is Further divided into sections, each one dedicated to a different part of history and having a different style and overall aesthetic to represent the time period and match what is being displayed. For example, while looking at earlier models of computers/computing systems, the rooms are filled with different pieces of technology, almost making the floor feel cramped like a working space. The rooms are much larger to fit earlier models and have a simple color scheme, leaving the displays to take your attention. This works well to fit the overall theme of the museum as this lets it play out as a physical timeline in a sense. From the first exhibits, there are these large imposing machines which fill rooms and need all of this attention, but as you progress, the rooms have less to physically show and more to explain through diagrams/displays which are brightly colored to grab your attention. This progression showed the evolution of this technology from this room sized computers to the handheld calculators we use now, and you are there to experience it. There were no grandiose exhibitions to be astonished by, but so much information was packed together to try and show as much history as possible. It attempted to show the applications of computers at all stages of life, from the first computers and their (relatively speaking) simpler computational speeds to those used in radars, home computers, or even game consoles/machines, while attempting to credit as many people as possible for these innovations.
Screenshot of several displays of older computation devices, including ICL Model 2966 by Jonathan Gaskin-Paulsen (2021)
The museum is designed as an archive to all of the advancements which have led us to our modern society, but also wishes to serve as an easily accessible outlet to relay this information to all individuals, and I believe that this museum, for the most part, achieves this goal. As previously stated, it is packed with information around every corner and tries to show a timeline of how computer technology has changed and evolved overtime. It attempts to immerse you in those moments by adapting the rooms to suit the time period and displays respectively, alongside, at times, letting you engage with some of the technology. This type of experience engages guests with history and relays as much knowledge as possible. Furthermore, it provides tangible examples of these innovations so we are able to visualize the progression ourselves. However, this approach does pose some issues. With regards to the layout, while the compact design does work to benefit from creating those moments where you can admire the scale of a computer or that timeline feeling, it does pose a logistical problem with regards to accessibility. While I had the opportunity to explore from a virtual tour, I felt like I could've easily been blocking an entrance or hallway at any point. Alongside this, the museum states that it is accessible by all individuals, including those with handicaps or accessibility issues, which is true given that all rooms are accessible by ramp or stairs when needed. This combined with the non-linear nature of the museum can hinder the ease of access for all individuals.
Screenshot of several displays in a hallway leading to the next section by Jonathan Gaskin-Paulsen (2021)
After walking though, I realized what was the appeal and possible thought process behind the design itself. Oftentimes, when I think of a museum, I think of a large scale building with grandiose displays and large scale exhibitions or demonstrations at times. But with this museum, there is not much of that. All that I have described before this is in a building only the size of a middle school, and I believe that part of this is intentional. It feels simple and inviting, which works well to fulfil its function of being accessible and readily available to everyone. Alongside this, it served as a means to be able to draw all your attention to what they wanted. Every room always had something to look at, whether it be rows and rows of racks needed for the first computers, or bright displays explaining the history of programming languages, it always felt like my attention was needed everywhere except my surroundings. And if I wasn't admiring something, I was encouraged to engage with something. It’s a wonderfully constructed experience that I wish I could see in person someday.
Screenshot of The entrance to the National Museum of Computing by Jonathan Gaskin-Paulsen (2021)
Through my experience in both the museum and this course as a whole, it has given me a new perspective on design. Design is not a simple process, as there are many different parts of it that must be analyzed to form the whole image, and we must always be willing to see these parts rather than just the whole. Before this point, I saw design in a much narrower lens. While I could make some generalizations or guesses at the thought process behind a design, I now see that I was not willing to expand my scope of analysis beyond that point. For example, in the museum, while I may have personally acknowledged the presence of the accessibility ramp, I would have not thought of its importance in terms of fulfilling the purpose of the museum, nor would I have even considered the implicit goals of said museum. Overall, this experience as a whole has shaped me to be more willing to consider the deeper reasonings behind designs rather than make quick assumptions.
To conclude, while it has deepened my knowledge on the history of computing, it has provided me with an opportunity to expand my horizons with regards to museums as a whole. I was given the opportunity to see a design which defied expectations in terms of design and showed that it is important to consider all the parts of the whole rather than skew my perception based on assumptions. I do hope that I get the opportunity to visit in person at some point, as I imagine it would be an amazing experience, more than what I have already had.
Tour and information from About our Museum — The National Museum of Computing (tnmoc.org)
The Boca Raton Museum of Art
© Julie Ha 2021
I have recently made an effort to visit the public spaces I have never been to in my area so for my experiential learning activity, I took a trip to the Boca Raton Museum of Art. I volunteered at the Norton Museum in West Palm Beach for two years, but I spent very little time as an actual visitor; I was part of a program aimed to get high school students’ input on how to transform the museum into something more interactive and appealing for younger audiences. So while I was there, I was almost always working events. At the time, I also attended a specialized arts high school where I studied digital media and often crossed over into traditional visual arts in my own work. These two positions combined gave me a very stagnant view of museum and exhibition spaces; my mental image of them was quiet and formal, where you had to take care not to damage the valuable pieces of art. In turn, I grew to prefer public art such as park sculptures or murals. But I wanted to try visiting a museum with the sole purpose of being a visitor without any responsibilities to see if my perspective would change. I wanted to visit the Norton Museum but it was still closed due to the pandemic and just recently reopened. Perhaps that is a good thing because it forced me to go somewhere completely new, where I could come in without a predetermined opinion.
There are endless aspects to my identity that contribute to how I experience life in our society. I consider being Asian-American, my gender, and my Vietnamese ethnicity to be the most significant parts of my identity not because of how I personally feel, but because of how these details about myself cause others to treat me. The reason I differentiate between my race and ethnicity is because - at least in America - Asian-Americans are viewed as a single entity even when we know that there is very large variety within all races. Additionally, as a Sociology major at the University of Florida, I spend a lot of time thinking about the concept of race as a social construct. While there are no biological differences among races, they are significant because they have resulted in shared experiences. There has been conflict between races and ethnic groups for the entirety of recorded human history for almost no other reason than physical appearance. Race was and is consistently used as a dividing factor and it is my frustration with this topic and my own experience that drove me to focus on race and ethnicity as my theme for my discussions this semester. In an O-Blog, I discussed the model minority myth, how harmful it is, and the certain privileges it gives me. It is difficult to want to succeed, but then have your accomplishments reduced to genetic predisposition. Furthermore, the stereotype of Asians as reserved, hardworking, and naturally intelligent is used to undermine other people of color. The same stereotype protects me from the horrific experiences of particularly Black and Latino Americans. There has also been a shift in how Asian-Americans are treated in light of the current pandemic, but it is important to note the difference between this and systemic oppression. They are different, but these are all issues caused by the perception of race.
At the time of my visit to the Boca Raton Museum of Art, I unfortunately did not think to document the architectural design of the building itself; I only took photos of the artworks but in hindsight, the design of the space has a large impact on how it is experienced. It is difficult to keep design as a whole in mind when the focus of the space is the artworks that are framed and lit up so brightly. The design of the space functions more subtly. A particular part of the museum that I remember is the hallway connecting two collections; it was a bridge with open space on either side looking down on the first floor. It led from the African art collection to a collection with more modern, form- and shape-based works and it was obvious you were moving from one space to another. I would also like to note the amount of natural light in the museum: There were windows on either side of this bridge and enormous floor-to-ceiling windows in the lobby. Works such as oil paintings are typically very sensitive to light and because curators are hesitant to risk damaging the artworks, museums have limited wiggle room with where to place windows. I think natural light is a very simple but necessary thing for the enjoyment of visitors. While relatively small, I think the Boca Raton Museum of Art does an exceptional job at working around these limitations. I am able to attribute the way I think about museum spaces to my connections with curators and what I have learned from my art teachers.
“L’Ophtalmopathe,” Jean Dubuffet, 1971 (Photographed by Julie Ha)
I do have criticisms of the museum that can be applied to most others as well. The African art collection was framed as an “ancient art” showcase while there was a combination of older and newer works. Many of the cultural statues and masks were dusty examples dating back more than a century, while the cultures themselves continue to produce them. This assigns primitive stereotypes to the people of Africa. While I do not know how the Boca Raton Museum of Art obtained the works in its African collection, this led me to think about conquest and the stealing of artworks. The British Museum in London is infamous for its refusal to return the artworks taken from Africa centuries ago, even at the request of the countries from which they came. Furthermore, the British Museum has the audacity to offer lending the artworks to African museums for exhibition with the expectation of them returning to London. Many of these works were not made for showcasing and play important cultural roles with practical uses. I disagree with depriving the objects of their purpose for the sake of preservation; I think the cultures that made them should be able to decide what happens to them. This is why I hold a bit of resentment towards museums that feel pretentious.
My identity ended up dictating what I looked for in the museum. I sought out artists of color because everything in our society is very European-based with little representation. My artistic background also caused me to think more about the making of artworks rather than enjoying them at face-value. I often admired the materials of works and imagined how I could recreate them. I still hold museum spaces in the same regard, but visiting with what we learned this semester left me with a newfound appreciation for their curation.
“Annoyed Radha with her Friends,” Kehinde Wiley, 2010 (Photographed by Jacek Gancarz)
Kailasa Temple (India)
© Yash Hegde 2021
What are the first perceptions that come to mind when considering the ancient ruins of older civilizations? Perhaps we think of specific well known examples, like the Egyptian Pyramids or Stonehenge. Essentially, when we think of any type of design piece, we are thinking of more than we see: the more abstract ideas and concepts that such a design invokes. I, the writer, had such an interest in exploring these ideas through the lens of design and identity via the Kailasa Temple (located in India and dating back to the eighth century AD). Thus, Google Earth was used to explore the place, my expectations of a dilapidated building to be immediately disproven by its intricate architecture and surprisingly maintained materials. This stark contrast between my expectations and reality would make one turn to the ideas of form, function, and philosophy, which are used to address the ways that the Kailasa Temple follows some type of architectural form, the way it functions in contemporary and ancient societies, and the ethereal ideals associated with the place, respectively. Additionally, the racial and ethnic background of the location also come to mind, with the results of these ideas being put together through Gestalt to form an overarching narrative that is portrayed through the following paragraphs.
Alternatively, one could say that the ideas addressed prior could not be applied to something that originates from a time when such ideas may not have developed in the first place, and they may be correct, but one must consider that this temple in particular cannot be explained by the fortitudes of modern technology, seeing as scholars cannot understand how such an intricate structure was built at a time when such mathematics involved in its creation had allegedly not been discovered. To that end, one can also argue that one could apply such ideas of form, function, and philosophy to this building to a greater extent than other buildings or designs, due to its rather ambiguous nature. With this in mind, we can go further into the notion that the Kailasa Temple has form because of its interesting usage of shape, size, and materials to construct a fascinating design. The temple was cut straight into basalt rock (its material) and was likely used for its durability containment over time, its shape containing sharp corners and very clean cut pathways to rooms (from visual observation), and its size being bigger than that of the Taj Mahal. These features represent social identities the most, as the attached images show that such a place is a popular tourist destination, in which many people visit to show to others that they have seen the historic monument. It also conveys personal and cultural identities, due to the fact that it originates from the writer’s birthplace and is a very well known symbol of gods and deities in hindu culture. The carvings of the aforementioned gods, spread throughout the monument, are a testament to the visualization of form in design and identity.
Furthermore, the Kailasa Temple can be observed to follow function to an extent, both spiritually and mechanically. Mechanically, the temple functioned as a waypoint for travelers in the modern era, seeing as it is one of the few monuments in India that can be easily seen from the sky. Spiritually, it functions as a means to which people would “communicate” with gods through prayers and other religious or cultural practices. The design in and of itself may also inadvertently persuade non-believers in god to those of stunned belief, due to the supposed structural impossibility of the whole building, as well as educating people who are new to Hindu religious practices as to the existence of the multiple deities that exist in such large scale epics like the Mahabharat. Overall, the lack of a distinguishable typeface actually benefits the reason that such carvings inside the temple, which is to convey messages visually, rather than through a scripture that may be long gone by the modern era, thus making it effective, or successful, to the audience (sightseers and worshippers). Additionally, the writer’s personal identity being that of Hindu religion, is such that it makes up a portion of the judgement of the efficacy of the messages portrayed by the Kailasa Temple, but also is responsible for the insights and general interest in the topic of indian architecture and how viewing it through the views of one who is deeply rooted in indian historical culture due to their ethnic background, this offers an interesting insight into some of the meaning behind the architecture, which is further explored when delving into the philosophy behind the creation of the temple itself.
Furthermore, when addressing the philosophical implications of a mysterious and ambiguously meaningful place like the Kailasa Temple, one must also consider the voices of those who may know the most about its hidden secrets. According to M.K. Dhavalikar, a famous Indian historian and a respected archaeologist, “there are several phases in which the temple complex was constructed and finally given an appearance that we witness today”. Alternatively, there are many who believe that such a structure is not possible, as modern technology cannot replicate a feat so daring as carving an entire building into a mountain. There also happens to be a major ethnic significance, seeing as there are those that believe the building has a symbolic connection to Mount Kailash, a spiritual place that many believe is where the Hindu god Shiva once resided. I, the writer, found this to be the most interesting aspect of discussion regarding the temple, as it called into question my personal identity when people believed that such a creation could not have been made by ancient indian men, implicating otherworldly intervention, and that making one assess to what extent the ancient stories of gods intervening to help mankind could be real (despite how unlikely that may be). This impacts the writer’s evaluation of the philosophy on a fundamental level, seeing as it makes one who was raised with such an ethnic culture to question the implications behind it.
In conclusion, one could say that the main idea of cultural institutions really focuses on what it represents, and not the building itself (form, function, and philosophy). Essentially, this can change one’s experience of their own of cultural institutions in that I, the writer, have had my own identity being put into question, in that one would believe that in the future, such a person would pay more close attention to the inner workings of different institutions, and how new information about something one inherently believes in could change how one feels about something. In the present, the writer would say that he is more interested in exploring the ideas surrounding various wonders of the world, circling back to that of the Egyptian Pyramids and Stonehenge.
Source Used: Article by Khilesh Kumar, 2020 https://www.thehopinion.com/life/culture/ancient-kailasa-temple/
Sexual Assault Survivor Story Exhibition
© Rachel Hernandez 2021
Growing up as a young woman in the 21st century, I have noticed that sexual assault has been a very normalized experience for many people. Many friends of mine have told me personal accounts of times they have been sexually assaulted in their lifetime, most of them being my girl friends. A statistic has come out recently stating that 97% of women have experienced a type of sexual assault in their life. The severity of that number has been realized by many people and has been dismissed by many people. However, the need to raise awareness about sexual assault is more important than ever and so we will not stop talking about people’s experiences and realities. Awareness includes every single person who is affected, not just the women represented in that statistic. There is currently an exhibition located in the Reitz Union on campus at the University of Florida that is showing the outfits of survivors of sexual assault. This exhibition shows that it has never been acceptable to blame being sexually assaulted on what you were wearing and that it can happen to anyone. The viewer gains insight on the incidents because each outfit has a testimony included from the survivor. The outfits in this exhibition only represent probably less than 1% of the survivors of sexual assault, yet it is so overwhelming and heartbreaking to see in real life.
Upon entering the exhibition, the doors are wide open and inviting people to come in and view the articles of clothing on the walls. There is not a huge sign or banner that is telling people what the clothes stand for instead, the viewer has to enter the room first and see the purpose on the side wall. Immediately when you walk through the doors there is a small sign that reads “SENSITIVE CONTENT” and it provides the information about the exhibit and resources for people who could be victims. It is very important that this sign is included because people could easily be triggered by the material that is shown in the exhibit and others might need help for the situation they are in. The room is very open and all the clothing pieces are lined up evenly across all the walls in the room. Located next to all the articles of clothing are personal accounts from the survivors on the incident that happened. This makes the viewer really connect to the exhibition because it creates empathy and sadness in the person who is reading these stories and seeing the truth. In addition, there are also two small seating areas located in the room that invite the viewers to have a seat and take it all in. The placement of chairs is an invitation for conversation and I thought it was really important to note. Overall, the exhibition room is a calm, open space that feels inviting for viewers since the topic is so heavy and important.
By placing the exhibition right in the center of the Reitz Union, it is trying to get the attention from as many people as possible. The doors were even wide open during Gator Nights in order to get students to visit inside and see the realities. They are directly educating the viewers on the topic of sexual assault by displaying real people’s clothing and testimonies. On the side wall after you enter, the question stands “what were you wearing?” with another paragraph explaining the purpose of the clothing on the walls and also sticky notes around the border that have encouraging messages on them. I think that the way this information is not in plain view of the entrance is a way for people to not be scared away from the exhibit and creates a sense of curiosity for the normal person passing by. Sexual assault is not a light topic and therefore it could be very difficult to try and educate people on it without negative effects. I think that their presentation of the information is successful in capturing the audience's attention and causing them to feel a wave of emotions. Each personal account is written in the first-person and does not give any evidence to the survivors gender or identity. I think that this was a strategic move because it does not allow the viewer to create any bias towards the person and just lets them see the account of the incident.
The whole exhibition was very strategic in the way that they presented the materials. They added nothing extra to the room, no artwork or fun signs, which would take away from the purpose. The whole purpose was to share peoples stories and to let them be heard and seen. The attention is fully focused on the accounts and the clothing being displayed. I think it is important that they did this because there is no way for anyone to miss the point of the exhibition. When you are inside the room and reading all the testimonies, there really is nothing else that could take your attention away and it makes you really see what these survivors are trying to tell you. For me, it even felt a bit personal, like I was having a one-on-one conversation with the person and all I could do was listen and let them be heard. It is even a kind of crazy experience because you read all the stories and most of them are occurring on campus or during these times in college which makes you really think deeply about how you or anyone around you is affected.
After visiting this exhibition about sexual assault and writing my analysis on it, it has caused me to have a greater awarness about this topic and a want to support and help as many people as I can. These people are victims of sexual assault. There is nothing that any one does that should be to blame for their trauma. It angers me that so many people try to shame the victim for being sexually assaulted instead of blaming the person who was the assaulter. We need to continuously educate people on what the different types of sexual assault are so that they do not harm anyone and think it is okay. This is important also for people who have been sexually assaulted to know because some victims think that it is normal what they go though, when in reality it is totally wrong and something needs to be done about it. I will continue to use my voice in order to spread awareness and hopefully help someone in one way or another. I hope you all will too.
This is an image of the Sexual Assault Survivor Story Exhibition by Rachel Hernandez. (2021)
The Harn Museum of Art
© Reagan Johnson 2021
The Harn Museum of Art is an art museum located at the edge of University of Florida’s campus. It includes many exhibits with a wide range of artwork that varies in size, medium, and meaning. Multiple artists are showcased in this museum ranging from the 3rd c. to the present day offering a taste of every time-period. Visiting this museum was fun and allowed me to see the varying spiritual artwork. While enjoying the works of art, I was able to identify and recognize physical, functional, and philosophical characteristics that helped enhance my experience.
This museum took on the basic layout of a museum having multiple wings and multiple exhibits featured within these wings. In the first wing, visitors are greeted by the main exhibit titled A Florida Legacy. This is the first exhibit visitors can enter, which focuses on Florida history through paintings. Stemming off from this main exhibit are the Terry Evans, Modern Highlights, and Breaking the Frame collections each in their own individual spaces. From the Modern Highlights and Breaking the Frame sections, visitors can make their way into the Ceramics exhibit which houses beautiful vessels and statues with origins from Asia and leads into the Asian Highlights and the Korean Collection. Within this general layout of the building are the layouts within the exhibits. A large majority of the artwork towards the front of the wing are paintings or photographs that can be displayed on walls allowing for people to easily traverse through the space and view all the images. As the visitors start to make their way towards the back of the wing, the exhibits become a little smaller and display objects rather than hangable work which ends up occupying more of the central part of the room. This is not a problem for those with physical disabilities that need an apparatus for assistance; all the objects on display are well spaced out and every threshold is more than four feet wide, clearly meeting ADA standards. The museum is also all on one level so there are not elevated obstacles for visitors to worry about.
The Harn museum functions as a place to house, manage, and display beautiful artwork. The main activity available at the museum is viewing the art on display; however, the displays do not always have to be the work itself, there can be other additions to make the experience more interactive. In the Korean collection, there was a video of a traditional Korean dance being performed that was there to provide context for what a painted scroll was portraying. In the Breaking the Frame exhibit, there was classical music playing at one of the artworks displays setting the atmosphere for viewing the piece. There was another interactive part of the museum and that was viewing local high schoolers art on a touchscreen. I found this very thoughtful and contributed to the main focus of the museum, to represent the local culture and history of the area and state. Other than these interactive experiences, there were not any others and I feel the museum would benefit from more of those, especially to help entertain the younger audiences and help them learn about the artwork in a fun way as well. There was an option for a virtual tour of certain exhibits that provide more information, but some visitors may not have the knowledge of how to work the technology to access this information or have the technology available.
The artwork itself on display contributes to the philosophical component of the Harn Museum. Each piece of art was strategically placed within the exhibit to show chronology of the theme or by importance. For example, the A Florida Legacy section was in chronological order having the older paintings towards the front of the exhibit and the newer more modern paintings towards the rear. The Terry Evans exhibit goes by importance in more of a storytelling way, by starting with a photograph collage of a prairie and gradually starting to introduce industrial qualities of society into the photographs. Along with the placement of the paintings, the paintings themselves are philosophical in meaning, allowing the visitors to contemplate what they are viewing. This higher-level thinking is critical to making the experience worthwhile; getting lost in the artwork and imagining yourself as the artist is truly an enlightening experience.
Personally, I enjoyed my time visiting this museum and seeing what it has to offer. I went to see how well the museum would have integrated my o-blog theme this semester, religion and spirituality. Before going to the museum, I knew that the space would not be a religious center itself but rather it would house works of art that have religious or spiritual meaning to them. There were not many works of art at the beginning of the main wing that were representative of religion, but as I progressed to the back, more religious pieces were featured. I feel that this was intentional by keeping the spaces that house these works of art intimate to respect the meaning and function of the pieces. For example, the Korean exhibit was the last exhibit I visited and was very secluded, the lights were even off until I approached the display cases, a tactic that I was very much impressed by. Almost every piece in the Korean Collection had spiritual meaning to them: the dragon on the vessel, the tiger on the scroll, and the traditional Korean dance being displayed from a projector. The museum did a great job respecting the artwork and the meanings behind the pieces as well. On the other hand, the Florida exhibit featured a small section dedicated to the native tribes of the state. The portraits and paintings were gorgeous, however there was not a plaque that had a historical contextualization about what was happening at the time-period or the behaviors of the native tribes, very different from the Hinduism and Buddhism statues that had contextualization on almost every display case. I feel that this was not that respectful to the native tribes represented and more could have been done. In general, not many religions were represented in the works on display, but this could be due to the budget of the museum and space available to display the works. I feel that this could be something the museum could work on and explore more in the future.
In conclusion, the Harn Museum was a great place to go to learn something new and expand my knowledge on different cultures and art in general. The intentionality of the form, function, and philosophy of the museum design greatly enhances visitors’ experiences and does not discriminate against any social group from the minute you walk through the museum’s doors.
The Harn Museum Digital Map
Screenshot by Reagan Johnson from harn.oncell.com, Apr 15 2020
Wine Bottle (Sulbyeong) (18th c.)
Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), Porcelain
Photograph by Reagan Johnson
Osceola of Florida (1838)
Robert John Curtis, Oil on Canvas
Photograph by Reagan Johnson
UCF Celebrates the Arts
© Alexander Kinbar-Clark 2021
The event I attended was UCF Celebrates the Arts at the Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center. The event was originally going to be outdoors, at a stage set up in the park next to the center, but due to weather it was moved indoors, to the Walt Disney Theater.
UCF Celebrates the Arts 2021, Alexander Kinbar-Clark, 4/19/2021
The design of the theater is centered, of course, around the stage. The space itself gives off the idea of elegance, because of the use of wood for most of the visible surfaces, blue fabrics for the seats and floors, and copper finishes for the metal railings. These railings in particular I find to be important, because they maintain the atmosphere of elegance despite being there as an aid to people who need help walking. They show that these sorts of aid don’t have to detract from the design, but can be implemented in a way that complements the rest of the theater.
The shape of the theater lends itself to providing the best sound for the audience. The seats follow an arc around the stage, so that the whole audience can face the stage and the people on the left and right sides are as close to the performers as the people in the center. Higher roofs are preferred for auditoriums, since they allow the sounds from the stage to spread without bouncing off the ceiling. This extra wall space is taken up by the balcony and mezzanine, which allows for more audience seating to be added. There is also extra space on the side walls, which is taken up by 14 boxes, providing even more seating. 4 of these 14 boxes are also designated wheelchair seating. Much of the wheelchair seating is towards the sides of the auditorium, and in the back or middle of the other seating areas. These 4 boxes provide wheelchair seating that has a clear view of the stage. One of the ideas that is expressed through the availability of wheelchair spots in the theater is that music should be accessible to everyone, regardless of ability.
Walt Disney Theater Seating Chart, Alexander Kinbar-Clark, 4/19/2021
One place where this idea of inclusivity starts to fall apart is in the planning for this particular event is in the move from outdoors to the theater. While generally the Dr. Phillips Center is good about being inclusive and accessible, moving an event that was originally outdoors to be inside during a pandemic leaves some people with a difficult decision to make if they want to see the concert. Not everyone going to this event felt that it was safe to move indoors, and many were there only because they were comfortable with the original venue. The change in location means that anyone with health conditions that could be a greater issue with COVID would have to give up an element of safety to still go to the concert (I, myself, left shortly after the concert was moved indoors; most of my knowledge of the Walt Disney Theater is from previous visits.) It’s also a long distance to go for someone physically disabled; due to the current layout of the center, the route to the actual building requires a walk around the entire block on which the center lies. This distance is less than optimal for a wheelchair user, especially in the rain that had relocated the event in the first place.
Another aspect of the design for the event was the program. It is typical for orchestra concerts to have printed versions of the program for the audience, but the program was only available online for this concert. This divergence from typical concert fare comes as a contrast to the expected decorum of a concert that is represented by the theater itself. Typically it would be considered rude to use one’s phone during a performance, which is part of the reason why printed programs are expected. However, in the absence of printed forms, using a phone to check the program has to be accepted. This departure from decorum follows as well in the expected dress for the audience members. Typically, a concertgoer would be expected to dress nicely for seeing a professional orchestra. A high school orchestra, on the other hand, is a less “fancy” event, so casual clothes would be accepted. With a college orchestra performance, it can swing either way, and the director’s choice not to expect the audience to come finely dressed reflects on the character of the orchestra. It ties back into the idea of the music being accessible for everyone: the idea that one must dress up for a concert totes along the connotation that it is a high-class event, which excludes people who don’t have such money. Treating concerts as an upper-class event forces those who aren’t upper class to either pose as such, or forfeit going to the concerts at all. The director chooses not to force that decision upon the concertgoers, which demonstrates his respect for the music as something everyone should get to experience.
UCF Celebrates the Arts 2021 Program, Alexander Kinbar-Clark, 4/19/2021
The overall philosophy that this event embodied was that everyone should be able to celebrate the arts. Despite the theater’s appearance as a fancy establishment, it still manages to be accessible. The director’s choice to expect little of the audience in the way of decorum goes further to open up the event for people unfamiliar with what is typically expected at a concert, and to those who can’t follow such expectations. The only area that left something to be desired was the relocation of the event. The original plan for the event – with outdoor seating and a less decorated venue – was better suited to the idea of a casual concert, but the interruption of those plans provided an opportunity to see how the people in charge are able to maintain that idea. The end decision to move the concert into the theater shows the dedication the group has to making the music accessible, which is ultimately a better reflection of the character of the orchestra than whatever is lost in the fanciness of the venue.
The National WWII Museum & Its Design
© Phoebe LaForge 2021
Most of the time, when you imagine museums, you think of old things, staring at paintings or long paragraphs on the walls, walking super slowly, and thinking to yourself, “when will this be over?” You are experiencing something that might not matter to you in the moment, even if it was significant years ago. However, not all museums have the stereotypical ambiance that sends people running away. Places like the 9/11 Memorial and Museum in New York, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and even the Butterfly Rainforest at the Florida Museum of Natural History make the ordeal of walking through exhibits interesting and creative through their design. One institution in particular that I have personally visited is the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, Louisiana. This is one of the most fulfilling and innovatively designed museums I have ever had the chance to appreciate. Through its very clever construction, this WWII museum has demonstrated its ability to use design to appeal to the average person’s sense of form, function, and philosophy to make the historical experience incredible.
From the very start of the museum’s attractions, you are already enticed through the genuine artifacts that are presented all over the entrance. As you embark on your journey, you are presented with a chronological timeline of what occurred in the 1940s. Plaques with information written on them are placed in front of real video footage played on a screen, outfits and gear from the soldiers, vehicles and machinery used, or recreated scenes from the time. A majority of the pieces you see protected in glass cabinets are original antique ruins from the war. The plaques are designed to allow people to read the information at their own pace and create their own thoughts about it. The font of the writing has a medium weight so that it is not too bold or too light to read, a small width between the letters and the words so that there can be more information presented on a small area, no serifs that would possibly make it difficult for someone of any age to read it, italicization on original aircrafts, submarines, and ships, and white color on a black or colored background so it is less harsh on the eyes. Each paragraph or individual piece of information typed out also has its own number or letter associated with it that is also attached to the artifact that it is specifically talking about so that those reading it are not confused by all of the writing and historical pieces mentioned. The coloring throughout the museum is fairly subtle, including darker blues and grays, neutrals, and some pops of green, red, and orange. This allows the main focus of the attraction to be the exhibits themselves rather than the coloring of the text or signage throughout the institution. From start to finish, the miniscule details in the design of the typography, coloring, and materials constitutes a sense of being delved into the world at the time of this destructive war.
Typography from WWII Museum. Picture taken by myself (2019)
The reason this museum was so creative to me was that it incorporated features that allowed visitors to interact with the exhibits and feel like they were experiencing all of the effects of the war in real time. Not only were there real artifacts and structures from the war, but there was video footage, audio snippets from real people in the 1940s, and participatory activities to captivate visitors. The very first thing that every person will do before entering the facility is receive a dog tag, like the ones that soldiers wear, that connects them to a specific person that was an active part of the war. For example, my dog tag portrayed an American pilot and my brother’s tag had a female nurse that helped soldiers on site.This part of the museum is one of the many experiences that addresses gender in the war. They discuss how both men and women were equally vital parts to the war effort both on U.S. soil and across seas rather than only appealing to the masculine aspects of brutality and destruction. It personally made me enjoy it all more because I could relate to the female’s perspective. As you continue, you can utilize your dog tag at featured stations to learn more about their individual experience as time goes on, listening to their stories using a physical phone and watching a featurette at the same time. This recognizes people’s desire to be pulled into the stories through audio, visual, and tactile measures, something that the museum sticks to throughout the entire experience. In all respects, the museum’s design appeals not only to all genders but also to the function of each piece of history.
Dog Tag Experience. Picture taken by myself (2019)
The little details in the form and function of the museum are very important, but the overall philosophies that were intertwined into those aspects are equally as meaningful. Just from being a visitor, I could tell that the museum intended for people of all walks of life to be able to appreciate the experience. There were many flat surfaces, ramps, elevators, and railings for those with physical disabilities to still be a part of the exhibits. Each video or visual display had text for those who are audibly impaired and each of the stations where the dog tags were used had phones to be able to listen rather than watch for those who are visually impaired. The design is also very democratic and shows both sides to the war, including the U.S. and its allies as well as those we were fighting against. I think these design features should be implemented in all museums to accommodate everyone who desires to experience history in a stimulating way.
Utilizing Phones for the Visually Impaired. Picture taken by myself (2019)
After leaving the museum, I was able to reflect on my astounding experience learning more about the historical moments in WWII. It supported my ability to recognize that this was something that actually happened, not just a fairytale. Women were perceived equally and were presented in a positive light. Through implementing all aspects of creativity, the design of the museum is what makes it a memorable experience. As a result of design, I was intrigued, attentive, and entertained for hours. Without this insight, this museum might have made me yawn from start to finish.
The Florida Museum of Natural History: Butterfly Forest
© Sydney Lemmerman 2021
For my Analysis of Experiential Learning Activity, I took a visit to the beautiful Butterfly Forest. The Butterfly Rainforest is located at the Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida campus in Gainesville. Over the course of the semester, we have discussed variable factors that play a role in the relationship between design and identity. In this case, the design, landscape, and atmosphere of this experience help to communicate ideas about identity.
As soon as you enter the Florida Museum of Natural History, you are kindly greeted by workers and tour guides. The museum in itself has a welcoming atmosphere that makes you excited for what you’re about to see. The walls were lined with photos of animals and insects, all content in their very own habitat. Making my way to the butterfly exhibit, I passed by a sloth, snakes, and other creatures that looked happy to be there. I was also given a QR code to scan that allowed me to scroll through butterfly cards to help identify what species they are. Upon entering the butterflies’ home, I couldn’t help but notice the rich tropical environment designed perfectly for the butterflies to thrive. The screened, outdoor garden was filled with butterfly feeding stations of fruit, and a beautiful pathway for people to journey down. I wandered down the path and was taken away by how the man-designed ecosystem was perfectly able to showcase species such as butterflies, moths, turtles, and hundreds of vibrant plants. The pathways helped guide you through every inch of the forest, making it friendly to all people. Whether you’re alone, with family, friends, or disabled, this experience is open to anyone and everyone. The exhibition was so beautiful, it almost felt unreal.
Figure 1. Photo of the waterfall at the butterfly rainforest. Picture taken by Sydney Lemmerman on April 02, 2021
The design of the exhibit has a great way of communicating with its visitors, as well as makes it easy to understand the context. The bridges, gated pathways, and signs are a great way to manage the crowd. I had a great time strolling around the forest and didn’t get lost once. The brochure and QR code of butterfly species was another great way from informing the audience. Whomever designed the exhibit did a beautiful job at keeping visitors informed, interested, and in touch with the world around them. Not only that, but they did a great way at communicating their love for the butterflies, as the enclosure was designed for them to thrive. It's easily observed that the butterflies are incredibly happy whether they were flying around together or sitting on a beautiful flower and having an afternoon snack. Another aspect of the rainforest that was greatly designed was the waterfall. The waterfall was centered in the middle of the exhibit and hovered over a huge pond filled with even more life. The pond had hundreds of fish and turtles, which was another example of the designer’s love for the ecosystem. Originally, I came here as a challenge to myself, because butterflies have been my biggest fear since I was a little girl. I was surprised that once I got there, I felt instantly relaxed by the design and gradual introduction to the butterflies. The exhibit helped me notice the beauty in the creatures, and to understand how wonderful they are. Overall, I loved the experience as it was relaxing, grounding, and helped me get over my biggest fear.
The design strategy’s purpose was to share nature's gifts with the audience. The designer’s clear intention was expressed through the beautifully welcoming atmosphere and easily navigable paths. It was almost as if time didn't exist and I felt welcomed to stay as long as I would've liked. As I continued walking, I heard the sound of a waterfall flowing, along with birds chirping and children giggling. The atmosphere was truly one that showcased how beautiful our world is, and just how happy nature can make us. I truly believe I had such a wonderful experience based on the layout, organization, and materials used to create the enclosure. Every angle I turned, there was a new beautiful living thing to look at. Whether it was a fellow student, flower, or species, I couldn't help but feel this overwhelming love for the world around me. Similar to my religion and spirituality theme that I focused on over the course of the semester, I found that the reason some religions are so gracious for the world around them is because of how truly beautiful it is.
To me, this experience was so much more than a project. Not only was I able to discover this new love for nature, but I also overcame my biggest childhood fear. The Butterfly Rainforest was so gorgeous and grounding. Strolling alone allowed me to clear my mind and truly appreciate the world around me. I would’ve loved to bring a book, sit, and listen to the waterfall’s never-ending song. I left the exhibit feeling revived, happy, and grateful. The experience left me feeling bliss for weeks, to the point where I debated visiting once a month to get a relaxing refresher. Between the smells, smiles, and sounds, I couldn't get enough.
Figure 2. Photo of a butterfly happily enjoying an afternoon snack on her favorite flower. Picture taken by Sydney Lemmerman on April 02, 2021
Overall, I had such an amazing experience at the Butterfly Rainforest. The design and atmosphere of the exhibit played such an important role in how I, as well as others, felt. The museum in itself has a welcoming atmosphere that makes you excited for what you’re about to see. Upon entering the butterflies’ home, I couldn’t help but notice the rich tropical environment designed perfectly for the butterflies to thrive. The screened, outdoor garden was filled with creatures of all species and felt so welcoming to visitors. I wandered down the path and was taken away by how the designed ecosystem was perfectly able to showcase our natural environment in such a beautiful way. All visitors were breath taken by the exhibit, including me. Concerning my theme of religion and spirituality, I was able to have a new appreciation for the world around me, similar to an awakening or connection to the higher forces. I felt so grounded and connected to the world, much like one is on their religious journeys or spiritual awakenings. This experience will always be so special to me, as I was able to find this beautiful desire, appreciation, and love for life.
Figure 3. Photo of a beautiful butterfly enjoying a flower. Picture taken by Sydney Lemmerman on April 02, 2021
The Harn Museum — Global Perspectives: Highlights from the Contemporary Collection
© Zarina London 2021
Image Taken by Zarina London inside the Harn Museum of Art
The choice of a prominent and enticing public space for an experiential learning activity was a critical decision process. The space needed to be inviting, appropriate and line up with my semester research topic. Regardless of the COVID-19 regulations, the space in question is needed to allow patrons to come as close as possible to truly experience its given content. Once a space supplied such necessities to my experience, it then was vital the space featured the theme of my research topic: Race and Ethnicity, particularly the African American race and the many ethnicities that follow. Finding a workable, close-range area that met my desired needs could not have been easier, thanks to my current location in Gainesville, Florida. With these notions in mind, the public space in which I furthered my research and learning was the Harn Museum of Art, here on the University of Florida campus.
The Harn Museum of Art includes diverse, varying exhibitions featuring nature, history, alongside gender and racial relations. The exhibition that drew most of my attention and followed closely to my research theme was the Global Perspectives: Highlights from the Contemporary Collection. This exhibition was created to celebrate our Asian, European, South, Central, and North American, and most importantly for research means, African roots. To enter the exhibition, you must continue straight as you enter the Harn Museum as you will be introduced to a vast room with a high ceiling and a multitude of outdoor lighting beaming into the room. The African part of Global Perspectives has been designed to mimic a “C” shape, curving alongside the edges of the room, and ending as you continue to curve the room. As I watched other viewers enter the room, I noticed that many of them used this path to enjoy the artworks featured in Global Perspectives, thus having the African section the first section of general interest. I believe this idea may or may not have been in the minds of those who selected the positions of the displayed artworks; however, it works well to set up the tone of the room. All artworks, whether a sculpture or a painting, speak on racial and ethnic relations that everyone can relate to.
Kehinde Wiley Dogon Couple. 2008
By creating an entire exhibition demoted strictly to those who are labeled as “ethnic,” the Harn Museum took design as a way to perfectly relate to these individuals. As you enter the exhibition, you are greeted with a map of the Harn Museum and a friendly concierge who knows the ins and outs of the exhibition. When prompted the question about the design and theme of the room, the answer came as no surprise. The theme was to speak on all nationalities, and the design was to have a large open space available to roam and move from nationality to nationality. The Global Perspective exhibition room is one of the largest rooms in the Harn Museum, meaning the designers knew this exhibition was one of the most important ones to feature. When you imagine a room to be “big,” you expect the room to measure up to that expectation and as I continued my research, the exhibition did not fall short of those expectations.
Concerning my theme of Race and Ethnicity, the Global Perspectives exhibition was the perfect place to conduct more research. The topic of my first observation blog was El Anatsui’s Old Man’s Cloth, which is a featured artwork in the Harn Museum of Art. It is fascinating to know that before my blog, I had no idea that it was in physical reach. This fact forced me to compare my original blog to my physical observations. The Global Perspective exhibition allowed me to see closely the materials I boasted about in my blog, for I could not believe that El Anatsui used bottle caps to complete this final look of a beautiful assembled “cloth.” I was also fascinated by the fact that the cloth was larger than life. Being able to physically see this piece of work in which I wrote about at the beginning of the semester gave me more perspective about not only the purpose behind the art but the purpose of a museum., which is a featured artwork in the Harn Museum of Art. It is fascinating to know that prior to my blog, I had no idea that it was in physical reach. This fact forced me to compare my original blog to my physical observations. The Global Perspective exhibition allowed me to see closely the materials I boasted about in my blog, for I could not believe that El Anatsui used bottle caps to complete this final look of a beautiful assembled “cloth”. I was also fascinated by the fact that the cloth was larger than life. Being able to physically see this piece of work in which I wrote about in the beginning of the semester gave me more perspective about not only the purpose behind art, but the purpose of a museum.
El Anatsui (Ghanaian, born 1944).
Old Man's Cloth. 2003
Growing up, I rarely had the opportunity to visit an art museum and having the chance to visit one at my convenience, opened my eyes to the knowledge that a museum can give you if you give it the chance to. Throughout the semester, we have dived deeper into the concept of design and how we as humans achieve the “perfect” design. As mentioned earlier, the Global Perspectives exhibition is one of the largest rooms in the Harn Museum, once you have completed the small “C” shape featuring artwork created by those of African lineage, you move into more nationalities such as Asian and Hispanic. As you complete the loop, you finish off with American artists of ethnic background depicting the “American Dream” or America in their eyes, a perfect ending to a beautiful setup.
Moving from what felt like” continent to continent,” beginning with my ancestor’s heritage, and ending with America gave me a sense of respect for where we have all come from. We are all descendants of one of the nationalities featured in the Global Perspectives exhibition, and in a way, the exhibition acts as a huge history book. Each artwork I have pictured here (Dogon Couple, Old Man’s Cloth, and Obiribea) comments on the injustices faced by the African and African-American community throughout the years, dating back to the colonization of America and the enslavement of Africans. Art in itself is designed to speak volumes without having the ability to speak for itself. Featuring artwork with the sole purpose to speak for the nationality in which it stands for was designed to bring upon a sense of community. Although not pictured, I was equally as stunned by the hardships of the Asian community and the beauty that was taken from their tragic stories.
As I concluded my research, it was no doubt that as I suspected throughout my observation blogs, design is meant to create community, as the Global Perspectives: Highlights from the Contemporary Collection showed so effortlessly. throughout the years, dating back to the colonization of America and the enslavement of Africans. Art in itself is designed to speak volumes without having the ability to speak for itself. Featuring artwork with the sole purpose to speak for the nationality in which it represents clearly was designed to bring upon a sense of community. Although not pictured, I was equally as stunned by the hardships of the Asian community and the beauty that was taken from their tragic stories. As I concluded my research, it was no doubt that as I suspected throughout my observation blogs, design is meant to create community, as the Global Perspectives: Highlights from the Contemporary Collection showed so effortlessly.
Pérez Art Museum, Miami
© Student Designer 2021
For my experiential learning essay, I decided to explore and analyze the Perez Art Museum Miami in Miami, Florida. When the Museum was founded in 1984, It was dedicated to and filled with International artwork from the 20th and 21st centuries. In 1994, the Museum transformed from solely a display of art to a collection institute so the Museum can better reflect the demographics of Miami, which had drastically changed in the previous decade. In 2013, the Museum expanded to a 200,000 square foot campus on the edge of Biscayne Bay behind the Frost Science Museum and part of Museum Park. Previous to this class, I had visited the Museum in person multiple times, but I decided to take a virtual tour of the Museum for this analysis. Although the artwork on display directly affects my experience every time I visit, by taking a virtual tour, I better understand the importance of physically visiting the Museum and its effect on the interpretation of the art on display.
When first arriving at the museum, if you drive as I normally do, one of the first impacts made is how there is no direct path from the underground parking level to the museum's front entrance. Instead, you are forced to walk up to the Knight Plaza, where you experience the first of multiple outdoor art installations. This first installation is interactive and is something the virtual tour misses out on; there are blue rubber tubes hung from supports that you can walk through, almost as if you become intertwined in the art. Despite feeling almost silly, It is a wonderfully stark contrast to the often very serious art displayed inside. After rounding the corner and walking underneath one of the multiple seemingly monolithic overhangs, you reach the main entrance to the museum, recognized with a glass wall, representing how it is open for you to come in. After entering the museum and passing through the ticket counter, you are placed in the center of the all white-walled interior with light wood floors to provide no distraction to the artwork on display. From this central space, you must walk through compressing hallways to reach the surrounding expansive galleries. After exploring the first floor and the multiple specific galleries on display, it can be confusing how to get to the second floor of galleries because the traditional staircase is almost hidden. Instead, you are intended to walk through and up the large auditorium, which features no artwork on display. After climbing the stairs to the second floor, you are instantly greeted by a glass wall providing a picturesque view of Biscayne Bay. After turning left into the first gallery on the second floor, you are almost confused as to how none of the galleries on the second floor align with those on the first, providing a unique experience. One of the two unique galleries on the second floor that contrasts the other galleries in the building are the two dark rooms. The only illumination comes from the electric art installations, innately dark rooms are not inviting to the observer, but the slight glimpse of light provides intrigue to enter. The first darkroom is a neon light-filled room providing a nostalgic glow. The second is a screening room with a massive projection providing immense audio and visual immersion into the video artworks on display. After leaving the museum through the same path you walk in through, you can turn left out of the museum and enjoy the outdoor shaded space with more art installations along the water. One of these installations features multiple seating areas where you can relax in the shaded Florida sun and contemplate the artwork just experienced.
While the function of a museum may seem overly obvious and intended to display artwork for visitors to observe, The Press Art Museum Miami is unique because it provides a cultural experience and story alongside the curated art. Because the Museum is dedicated to international artworks, each of the galleries is either dedicated to a specific non-American artist or a collection of works from a specific region. By selecting, dedicating, and curating the Museum, it allows visitors to understand the cultures dissimilar to their own better. Furthermore, because an artist often implements personal experiences and stories into their work, the Museum acts almost like a library full of stories from around the world one would never hear without visiting the Museum. Finally and almost opposite to the first thought individuals have when imagining a museum where one normally contemplates art, the Perez Art Museum Miami provides ample outdoor spaces to congregate with friends and strangers to either discuss the art inside or simply relax. While these spaces are still often quiet, sometimes they become bustling and full of visitors who, just like artwork inside, have their own stories to share.
A recurring theme throughout the museum and its design are how it embraces learning and seeking new experiences. Through well thought out compressive and relieving spaces throughout, the museum can guide you through certain paths and also force you to take turns you may not be inclined to. Some examples are the seemingly oppressive overhangs outside you have to walk beneath to the main entrance, the hallways you have to pass through from large open spaces, and the dark rooms that are innately scary yet almost forceful in their ability to attract you in. These radical shifts in spatial experience make the museum so intriguing and help explore the artwork on display.
One of the second-floor galleries is open to the Knights court, showing one of the compressive hallways. Photographed by Oriol Tarridas, 2013.
After visiting the Perez Art Museum Miami, the designer's intentions for the spaces they have masterfully created can easily be deduced by analyzing the Museum's form, function, and philosophy. The changing spatial conditions that guide the viewer through the stories of artworks demonstrating the form of the building highlight its purpose, the curation, and location of artwork combined with congregation spaces enabling people to share their own and the stories of the art reinforcing the function of educating people on International art and their stories. Finally, the design philosophy employed throughout is one to encourage intrigue and exploration by manipulating the form of the spaces. Analyzing a building through the specific lenses of form, function, and philosophy helped me better understand why the spaces and buildings are the way they are.
A window with opposing seats designed for conversations on the second floor overlooking Biscayne Bay. Photographed by Iwan Baan, 2013.
State Hermitage Museum
© Feba Mathew 2021
In this analysis of my virtual visit simulation to the State Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia, I analyze the ways the museum exhibit designs interact with my own identity, religious themes, and also how the applied museum design may interact with other identities. The virtual visit simulation gave me a first-person viewpoint exploring the museum and the other website functions revealed more information about the museum’s structure and artistic design. I chose this museum because it hosts the painting I discussed in my first Observation Blog post, The Return of the Prodigal Son by Rembrandt. Virtually visiting the museum allowed me to take my Design and Identity course journey full-circle as I noticed how the different aspects of design interacted with my own identity (Christian, Indian-American, middle class, etc.).
Analysis of Form
The State Hermitage Museum created a very regal and elegant atmosphere. The building has very high ceilings with archways, white walls embellished with gold detail, large gold chandeliers, and gold lanterns. This poshness may make people in the lower classes feel unwelcome, but individual tickets are only $6.50. If I were to visit in person, I would feel pressured to wear fancier or business casual attire. Admiring or appreciating art is generally a luxury for people that have disposable time and income, and the State Hermitage Museum enforces that idea with its sophisticated architectural design.
The exhibit walls were generally deep warm colors such as maroon and forest green, which allowed for visitors to engage in deep reflection of the pieces. If a room had many pieces, it usually used orange or red colors to keep visitors moving. The red carpet at the entrance may have been used to encourage visitors to move on to the exhibits. It is very wheelchair accessible with large hallways and doorways.
This is an image screenshot from the virtual visit simulation of the State Hermitage Museum Main Entrance Jordan Staircase taken by Feba Mathew on April 19th, 2021 provided by State Hermitage Museum (2021). https://pano.hermitagemuseum.org/3d/html/pwoaen/main/#node338
Regarding lighting, the yellow light throughout the building provided a warm comforting atmosphere, though many paintings have a separate white light shining directly on them which allows for people like me with particularly bad eyesight to take in the true color and texture of pieces (though some of it is lost in the virtual setting). Additionally, the typography used inside the exhibits includes gold metallic labels on the walls, with black “Playfair Display” font, which gives off a formal and upscale tone (two captions per image- one Russian and one in English). However, the typography used within the website was more educationally oriented with typical white “Arial” font over a black shaded background for piece information details and large black all capital titles to lead to the desired website sections and for website visitors to have concise information transfer.
The design functions of the State Hermitage Museum differ between the website and physical forums. The museum’s in-person designs and resources focus on helping visitors become introspective so that they may fully appreciate and interact with the works of art presented, but the online version is more purely set to inform the public about the pieces. In the virtual simulation, the tools provided information tabs per piece that showed a paragraph describing the contents of the piece and a 2-D digitized picture. However, the in-person designs encouraged visitors to step close to the painting (as signified by the rope dividers about one foot away from pieces) to view and notice the nuances of color and texture within the piece.
Additionally, because many of these collections of art were sponsored or purposed for Orthodox Church or Cathedral uses, a large portion of these pieces from the fifteenth century onward have strong biblical allusions throughout almost all of the exhibits unless titled otherwise (for example the exhibit on Greek Gods and Heroes collected from archeological Pompeii). Because I am a Christian, I was able to appreciate the pieces because I have a relatively strong understanding and knowledge of the Bible. In St. Petersburg, Russia, there's a strong Orthodox Christian presence and the pieces are more likely directed towards older/mature audiences that have some understanding of biblical and world history who can respond to images with portrayals of topics like death.
This is an image screenshot from the virtual visit simulation of the State Hermitage Museum Jacob Jordaens exhibit of the painting The Lamentation taken by Feba Mathew on April 19th, 2021 provided by State Hermitage Museum (2021). https://pano.hermitagemuseum.org/3d/html/pwoaen/jordans/#node6
The strong Orthodox Christian presence in Russia and the Catholic paintings derived from Europe is heavily portrayed in this museum. It shows the museum’s underlying design goal of preserving that religious history by presenting it to the masses. Although there are secular pieces showing images quite unrelated to religious history, either biblical or any other religion (regarding Greek mythology, Islamic, Jewish history, etc.), many influential artists represented usually found employment with religious institutions and patrons, so the presence of biblical, Islamic and Jewish allusions intertwined with many of the pieces is not surprising. Exhibits are usually separated by time or artist so that each room has a common underlying theme. The building is separated by chronological and geographical transitions from the “Gold Room” with Central Asia and China from 3rd century BC – 10th century AD to the “Display of the Culture and Art of Central Asia” with early Middle Ages pieces) so that visitors can make those apt mental shifts between rooms.
In analyzing the philosophy of design, I noticed that the first floor had the most multicultural pieces ranging from throughout the globe, but on both the second and third floors there was a strong emphasis on European culture and history. Because I am an Indian-American, I was able to appreciate the artifacts from Asia to a deeper level knowing that they represented the history that I came from, but because I am Christian, I was able to relate deeply with the religious European pieces portraying the emotional stories that I am very familiar with from Rembrandt’s Sacrifice of Isaac to Duccio di Buoninsegna’s Calvary.
The State Hermitage Museum is full of many cultures and religious backgrounds that all people could engage with in some deep and meaningful way. My museum experience allowed me to see how the facets of my identity interacted with different design components in various ways, regarding my cultural ties to Asian pieces, my class preference away from elegance, and my Christian religious background engaging with the biblically alluding pieces.
Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
© Student Designer 2021
The Museum of Modern Art, also known as MoMA, is located in Midtown Manhattan. MoMA was founded in 1929, and it was the first museum that was strictly dedicated to modern art such as paintings, drawings, sculptures, architecture, design, photography, and film. Since the opening of this museum, MoMAs collection of paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints and photographs has grown to over 200,000 pieces. I chose to virtually tour this specific museum because I have always had a deep interest in the arts, specifically paintings, and I was astounded by the experience I was able to have through simply touring online. The word art can be defined loosely, for art comes in all forms, shapes and sizes. Although I am not an artistic person myself, I identify myself as a person who is open to new things and appreciates the beauty of the world. I truly enjoy looking at different pieces and collections because it helps me have a sense of the artists identity and how they perceive the world compared to myself.
When going on the Joy of Museums website, I am able to pick from an assortment of different tours that specifically go into detail for different works of art such as “The Starry Night” by Vincent Van Gogh to “The Broken Obelisk” by Barnett Newman. I was able to observe different works of art with an open mind, and got to truly take in the unique beauty from each video.
“The Starry Night” by Vincent Van Gogh.
The first piece of art that I observed on my tour was “The Starry Night” by Vincent Van Gogh. Van Gogh was a man who lived a somewhat troubled life, for he struggled with depression, which is attempted to be shown through the brush strokes. The “contoured forms” are means of expression that are used to show Vincent’s emotions in a somewhat surreal manner. The darkness of the sky shows grim feelings, alongside the dark colors used on the village. One thing that is particularly noticeable in the painting is the Cypress tree, which is universally associated with mourning. The only sense of lighter colors can be seen in the windows, which many art analysts believe could show a sense of comfort. By this, the village could be bringing Vincent comfort in what is depicted to be a dark and unpredictable world. One can interpret this as even though the world is unpredictable and at times scary, there is always a path (or light) one can follow to feel a sense of security and belongingness.
“Les Demoiselles d'Avignon” By Pablo Picasso
Another piece of art I observed was “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon” by Pablo Picasso. This painting was intended to show a “radical break” from a traditional composition painting to perspective using cubism. This painting is of five naked women who are supposed to represent prostitutes, and though cubism is showing the different ways female beauty can be depicted. This painting was based off of Picasso’s time in Barcelona and the prostitutes he was heard to spend his time around. When looking at the women’s faces, it appears that they are wearing masks. These masks are in reflection to Picasso’s obsession with art that originated in Africa as well as that of Ancient Iberia. My video tours through MoMA were able to give me a deeper understanding of Picasso, his life, and the story behind this famous piece of artwork. I truly enjoyed that I was able to look at the entire painting in not only high quality, but through close up shots, making the experience all more real.
When on my tour of MoMA, I was able to see just how necessary function can be for design. This museum in particular prides itself on maintaining an active schedule of art exhibitions that shows the works of not just well known artists, but up and coming artists as well. MoMA displays its works of art in rotating installations so for those interested in watching, can expect to see new, updated, art pieces displayed. Looking back in history, many artists did not receive the recognition that they have today until years after their passing. MoMA challenges this by purposely rotating through different artists and forms of art on their rotating installations, in effort to put new pieces of art out there for the world to see.
The philosophy behind MoMA is that art is a universal expression that makes an impact on everyone’s life. Art has the ability to create tension, bring peace, as well as strengthen individuals abilities when it comes to understanding how other people think. MoMA aims to bring to light the differences in art from the past until present day, and show how art is always evolving. Being that this museum is in New York, the city that never sleeps, and is constantly looking for the “next best thing”, MoMA lives by a philosophy of “blending the old with the new”. This entails exhibiting old works of art near new pieces of art, even replacing almost “30 percent” of its exhibits every 6 months to allow new pieces to be displayed.
Being that I am a freshman at the University of Florida studying Biology, I feel as if I have never spent time paying attention to or appreciating other aspects of the world outside of medicine. As I made clear in my O-Blogs, I have been attempting to understand the world more through different viewpoints and methods that allow me to branch out my knowledge in the world of design. Although this course was not necessarily geared towards my major, I am extremely grateful I was able to take it and am confident that I am going to use the tools we learned outside of the classroom. I enjoyed learning about methods of design and finding out new interests I have.
My online tour of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) truly exceeded my expectations. Being that I live in New Jersey, I know that I will be making the short trip to Manhattan to visit this museum in person. As I stated before, I am no artist, however, virtually touring MoMA has opened my eyes to the different forms, functions, and philosophy behind art, inspiring me to want to make the trip and see the collections with my own eyes. It has also given me a greater appreciation towards MoMA, and the opportunities it presents to young artists.
Butterfly Rainforest at the Florida Museum
© Courtney Megargel 2021
For my experiential learning activity, I chose to visit the Butterfly Rainforest at the Florida Museum. This exhibit is truly one of a kind because not only do you get to see what a real rainforest environment looks like, you get to interact with butterfly and moth species that live in the pavilion. The Butterfly Rainforest at the Florida Museum houses more than 50 moth and butterfly species and the continuous population of butterflies in the pavilion reaches over 1000. The 6400 square foot screened enclosure that surrounds the habitat allows the weather and natural elements to penetrate into the exhibit, giving it a more natural and realistic feel. Having visited this museum, I have learned how function, form, and philosophy come together to enhance the experience of visitors in this exhibit.
When you first arrive at the Butterfly Rainforest Exhibit, you are greeted with a wall covered in butterfly diagrams as well as a guide to answer any questions and check and explain how the exhibit works. You are then allowed to proceed on your own through two air sealed doors that prevent any wildlife from leaving the screened enclosure. Once you enter the enclosure you are immediately surrounded by tropical plants and wildlife. There is one single path that leads through the entire exhibit, formed intentionally to keep traffic moving in one direction only. When walking the exhibit, I noticed that there were features that made this exhibit friendly to people with disabilities. For one, the Florida Museum prides itself on making every exhibit service animal and wheelchair accessible. The wider walkways and handrails provide extra stability for people with disabilities or elderly people. Right outside of the exhibit is an area called a “Discovery Zone” which is a private and quiet space for nursing mothers. The exhibit also takes part in “Museum For Me Mornings” which is a time when the museum is only open to families with children who have autism so that they have less crowded environment and so that it is more quiet.The intended audience for this exhibit as well as the rest of the museum is schools aged children and up. This can be inferred because of the graphics used on a lot of the informational posters which would make the information easier for children to understand, as well as the numerous groups of children on field trips that I saw visiting the museum. Overall, the form of the exhibit was conducive for some people but not all people.
This image was taken by me at the Florida Museum on March 8th of the diagram on the wall of the exhibit.
The Butterfly Rainforest exhibit functions as a place to view a live exhibit that houses hundreds of bird, butterfly, and moth species that roam freely throughout the 6400 square foot pavilion. The pavilion is also home to turtles and fish in a part of the enclosure specifically designed to enhance the tropical tone and rainforest atmosphere that this exhibit recreated. As you walk through the exhibit you can find a staff member sitting at the middle of the exhibit and at the end, who will answer any questions that visitors may have. This exhibit functions to allow people of all ages the experience of getting to learn about certain types of wildlife in a habitat that they live in. There are so many components that go together to create the rainforest that the Florida Museum created such as the flowing water, thick vegetation and flowers, wildlife roaming by your feet. All of these things function to give the visitors an immersive experience that not only educates them about the wildlife, but also gives them a chance to potentially interact with an animal they may have never seen before. This relates to my research theme of race and ethnicity because I explored how helping many parts of disadvantaged minority communities will come together to benefit all of us. I explored how sustainable housing and sustainable community design in minority neighborhoods would function to solve problems in healthcare and economics resulting in many components coming together as one. The butterfly exhibit showed me that design and creativity takes many components coming together to achieve one overall masterpiece and one major function.
……………….This is an image taken by me of a butterfly that landed on my foot as I ……………….walked around the museum on March 8th.
The idea behind the exhibit itself is to educate people about butterflies, moths, and other wildlife. It gives people a one-of-a-kind chance to experience these creatures their typical environments up close. The museum has several signs that discuss the fragility of the butterfly and moth wings and how touching the wings can be fatal to the insects. In modern culture butterflies have been recognized to have very fragile wings and it is common for children to be told not to touch the wings of a butterfly because it could kill or harm it. This was a philosophy of the exhibit because the guides specifically stated before entering the exhibit to be very gentle if a butterfly lands on you because they can be hurt easily. The guard rails keeping people on the path also kept the butterflies safe from possibly being stepped on or harmed as well. To me, the exhibit generated an overall philosophy of nature and it’s fragility in regards to humans. This ties into my research theme because I explored how inclusivity and representation can help child development in my observation logs. The fragility found in the butterfly/moth wings is represented by a child's mind and how fragile the confidence of a child without representation or inclusivity is. I showed this in my observation logs with a comparison between little girls who have Barbie dolls that look like them and little girls that don’t. The children who don’t, often question their beauty and think that they are not a part of the beauty standard, causing self confidence issues for minority children down the road. The children are like the butterflies wings because their minds are fragile and impressionable, making inclusivity and representation of minorities important for children to feel like they are a part of the typical beauty standard.
This is an image of a butterfly that I took at the Butterfly Rainforest …………….exhibit on March 8th, 2021 of a butterfly that landed on the hand ……………..railings in front of me.
After visiting the Butterfly Rainforest at The Florida Museum I can say that this exhibit took many components to achieve the total immersive effect. I think that the designers have adopted many functionally and formally inclusive aspects to the way they designed this exhibit. The inclusivity of the exhibit as well as the truly captivating experience would bring me back to this exhibit again and again.
© Sophie Michalowski 2021
For my experiential learning essay, I decided to take a walk to Depot Park. Depot Park is located on a former railroad Depot in downtown Gainesville, Florida. The park’s development was part of a Gainesville Community Redevelopment Agency project that was completed in the summer of 2016. It consists of a playground, a water structure, and a promenade that wraps around the main pond. I have visited the park before, but during this visit I took a closer look at the design choices and was able to understand how the form, function, and philosophy includes social and cultural identities as well as my personal identity. I think that the designers of Depot Park wanted to inspire creativity and strengthen the sense of community in all Gainesville residents regardless of their age, social class and race by designing a space that is inclusive of all identities and accommodates the needs of everyone. As a student at the University of Florida, the park’s design definitely accommodated me.
When I arrived at Depot Park, the first thing I noticed were the open gates with the words “Depot Park” printed above. I think that the designers chose wide arches for the entrance to try to encourage people to come in and to communicate the idea that everyone is welcome. The entrance is made out of rustic brown colored metal. I associate this material and color with old train stations and antiquity. I think the designers did this to remind its visitors of the former train station that existed in the area prior to the construction of the park. The reason why I associate trains with antiquity is because I do not go on trains very often. In the generation and place where I grew up, trains are not a popular mode of transportation because almost everyone in my town has a car. In other parts of the world, not everyone can afford a car and they most likely take the train. I associate trains with older time periods even though trains are still very common today in other places because of my personal experiences.
Image 1: This is a picture of the entrance to Depot Park that I took (2021).
Depot Park functions as a place that encourages community enrichment and socialization amongst people of all demographics. The park does not charge its visitors so anyone can enjoy the park’s amenities for zero cost. This is perfect for unemployed college students like me. We can study on the park’s benches and admire the beautiful views for free. It is also ideal for families that do not have a lot of money and are looking for ways to entertain their children. The “Blue Grotto” at Depot Park, an area with waterfalls, ground jets and water cannons, is the perfect spot on a hot Gainesville day for families who cannot afford pools or beach trips. I think that the large square footage of the splash pad invites people to engage with each other promoting socialization amongst people of different backgrounds. The blue strip of color pictured in the image below facilitates wayfinding. It wraps around the rock and persuades people to explore the splash pad on all sides of the rock. Also, most of the park, including the area surrounding the Blue Grotto, is flat so it is better accessible to people in wheelchairs.
Image 2: This is a picture I took of the Depot Park Blue Grotto (2021).
Surrounding the park are small businesses. By placing small businesses such as food trucks and restaurants around the park, the designers are encouraging visitors to purchase goods from local businesses. I think that one of the underlying goals of the designers of Depot Park was to stimulate the Gainesville economy. Aside from stimulating the economy, it does create a stronger sense of community. I would say that Gainesville is pretty racially and ethnically diverse partly due to the university within it. People from all over the country and people from other parts of the world come to Gainesville to attend the University of Florida. I think that Depot Park with its close proximity to campus inspires these people of different ethnic backgrounds to interact with each other which strengthens community bonds. The promenade beside the main pond only wraps around one side of the water. This means people are flowing in both directions. This design forces you to pass others face to face as you are walking along the promenade. I think this was done intentionally by the designers to encourage people to look at each other. I definitely felt inclined to smile or say hi to people that I passed on the promenade. I grew up in a very small town where everyone knows everyone, and everytime you pass someone on the street, you wave.
Image 3: This is a picture of the promenade that I took (2021).
I enjoyed my walk through Depot Park. I think the designers placed small local businesses around the park to try to foster Gainesville's economic vitality, and this strategy definitely worked on me. Because I had enough money, I purchased french fries and water from the food trucks surrounding the park. In the future when I have a job, I see myself spending a lot more money there because the fries were really good. Also, as I was walking down the promenade, I passed other college students who waved to me and I smiled back. Due to the design of the promenade, I was inclined to interact with other students. After taking this course, I am definitely more mindful of how designers shape the way we navigate spaces, and how design communicates and understands identity.
In conclusion, I think that Depot Park is an example of a universal design because its lack of admission fees, easy access for people with disabilities, and amenities for all ages make the park accessible to all people regardless of their age, race, social class and disabilities. Because Depot Park is accessible to everyone, it attracts people of all different backgrounds including college students, families, and tourists. The design of Depot Park encourages the park’s visitors of diverse backgrounds to interact with each other and it strengthens community bonds.
Representation of the LGBTQ+ Community in Downtown Gainesville
© Arlene Midulla 2021
When entering a public space, it is easy to walk right past it, whether it’s a result of a cell phone or day to day life. When one finds the time to truly look at a space and its design factors like form, function, and philosophy, important discoveries can be made. For example, what that design means in the community or space, and how it is or in some cases isn’t designed for you and your identities. As a queer Hispanic woman, many spaces are not designed with me in mind; only by analyzing these designs can we improve them to be inclusive for all. The public space I will be focusing on is the corner of University and 1st street in downtown Gainesville, and how its design relates to gender and sexuality in the terms of form, function, philosophy.
The form of a space can often be overlooked; however, each color, typography, material, and size of objects in a design were deliberately chosen so it is important to look at them closely. To begin with the most colorful, the rainbow sidewalk. Colors specifically the rainbow are an important part of the LGBTQ+ community. These colors signify one’s identity as well as a community that you are a part of, most importantly these colors signify safety and acceptance two things that are not always guaranteed when existing as an LGBTQ+ individual. Just around the corner on University is University Club, a gay bar that hosts karaoke, drag shows, and more. On this building we also see the rainbow in some of the posters, it is also important to note the building itself is purple. Purple historically has been associated with royalty; this seems fitting considering Drag Queens often perform there. The organization of space is also interesting, Holy Trinity Episcopal Church is located to the right of the rainbow crosswalk. The church is a tall angular building with a traditional looking form. At first, this feature of design for me took away from the acceptance I felt in the crosswalk. I was raised Roman Catholic, and as a young girl with a sexual orientation that didn’t align with the church’s view, religion isn’t a safe space for me personally; but I respect everyone’s religion. However, upon further investigation the Episcopal church is accepting of all sexualities and gender identities.
First and foremost, this space communicates acceptance. The rainbow sidewalk is an important beacon for the LGBTQ+ community, it is seen in celebrations as well as in time of protest. It signifies that there is a proud LGBTQ+ community in Gainesville. This is especially important for young students. For me personally, I grew up in a large city; I was very apprehensive about coming to school in a small town in Northern Florida. However, the presence of this crosswalk clearly communicates that I am accepted, at least in this specific public space. This space also educates others that the LGBTQ+ community in Gainesville is represented and strong. This area for me personally led to wayfinding in terms of the church. I wasn’t informed of how the Episcopal church felt towards the LGBTQ+ community so I decided to investigate further. At the church there were signs stating that the church "welcomes you”, and another sign with times of masses, a phone number and website. After some further investigation I discovered that they truly do welcome individuals regardless of gender or sexuality. Additionally, at the University Club the function of acceptance is continued in the sign that says “pride” as well as the karaoke nights open for all. In my experience as a white woman, I felt accepted; however, I acknowledge that for those who may be devout to a religion that isn’t related to Christianity they may feel excluded from the space as a result of the church, thus taking away from its function of facilitating acceptance.
At the surface it is easy to look at the sidewalk as solely a colorful way to cross the street, but for myself and likely many others in Gainesville it means much more. At the surface level a crosswalk is a way to safely cross the street and have a right of way against traffic. However, once the colors of the LGBTQ+ community is added it can be assumed that the philosophy of this piece not only signifies safe passage across the street but also in Gainesville as a queer individual. Safety as previously stated isn’t always guaranteed for members of the LGBTQ+ community, specifically transgender individuals. The presence of this crosswalk in my interpretation signifies safety in our walk of life. Within my personal identity as a woman and a member of the LGBTQ+ community safety is often a concern of mine. This philosophy of safety is continued in the front of University Club, with the inclusion of a light in front of the doors. LGBTQ+ individuals are often a victim of sexual and physical assault; this light may help individuals feel safer. Additionally, Gay Bars have historically been an important part of the LGBTQ+ community, especially when homosexuality was seen negatively. One’s sexuality was previously and even today in some cases hidden away and not spoken about. Again, by bringing the light into this space it makes it clear that the LGBTQ+ community is present and proud in Gainesville.
Since arriving in Gainesville in August I’ve parked right in front of this crosswalk when getting piercings and tattoos. I was too focused on my destination of the local businesses to fully take in the public space designed for me as a member of the LGBTQ+ community. In fact, I didn’t even realize this crosswalk was there at all. This design analysis is from the perspective of a queer woman, thus there is a bias there and I’m sure there are many other features not mentioned that may not be as inclusive as I believe because I am coming from space of privilege where I am unable to see its shortcomings. For me, this design analysis informed me of the church and how not all religious sects view homosexuality and gender in the same light of the church I was raised in. In the future I will likely be more open minded in that regard, and I plan on going to a mass in the future to see what they mean by “all are welcomed.” It is important when in a space to fully experience it and look at the features of design. If there is a link to a website, it likely has a purpose that adds to the space and provides further insight. It is important to truly look and analyze spaces in our own lens as well as being conscious of how others may perceive it in order to create a space that is as inclusive for all regardless of race, economic status, ability, or as focused on above gender and sexuality.
A rainbow crosswalk in Gainesville by Arlene Midulla (2021)
Front of University Club in Gainesville by Arlene Midulla (2021)
Street view of University Club in Gainesville by Arlene Midulla (2021)
Spruce Creek Preserve Trails
© Renag Morkous 2021
The Spruce Creek Preserve Trail is on 2,479 acres of land in New Smyrna Beach, Florida. This is a small piece of land compared to the bigger national parks, but it offers the same natural feeling. I first became accustomed to this park in my freshman year of high school. We went on a biology field trip to an area called Rose Bay. Later was extended and turned into a trail called Spruce Creek Preserve Trail. The design of the Trails offers options for everyone like a harder trail to hike on and another one that is smooth for bikers. As much as I like being around nature, I have never been a big fan of insects or reptiles, so I was constantly worried about meeting one, but the moment I started walking around my fear was irrelevant because of how beautiful the scenery and the overall presences of the Trail. The formation of the Trails helped bring to light the various design aspects present: form, function, and philosophy. Recognizing these allowed me to see the Trails from a border perceptive and helped me get the full experience and understanding of the design of the Trails.
Analysis of Form
The Trail has several aspects that stand out when people visit like its long boardwalks and sight-seeing towers. The form or layout of the Trail is set up as if someone was just walking into the forest. The image shows a map of the Trail's path and this is posted around the hiking trails so people can find their way around without getting lost. Just approaching the Trails, one would not notice the little details of the design aspects because they are hidden so well.
From an outsider’s perspective, the Trails are nothing but forests and rivers, but looking closely one can notice how this enhances identity and design with various aspects like the typography or the colors on the signs. This image shows the use of blues and greens to identify the forest and rivers. The hard text type that is used in the title, “Spruce Creek Preserve Trails” shows a sense of dominance and urgency; this in the aspect that the forest is a beautiful and natural place but there is still dangerous wildlife. The signs also have pictures and symbols to accommodate people who cannot read making it more inclusive for everyone. The map also shows the overall formation and routes of the Trail and delivers the safest route for each individual. With routes specifical for biking, hiking, and a mixture of both while also showing the parking lots and camping options. Just one sign tells the viewer my different things about the Trails because of the use of design through typography, symbols, and colors. Design is important in the aspect of form to the trails because without colorful and meaningful maps and trails, it would be difficult for the people who are visiting to stay safe and aware of their surroundings.
Taken by Renag Morkous, an example of one of the many maps that people will see if they visit the Trails.
The use of the Trails seems quite obvious, but in perspective, it can function as anything anyone wants it to be. Function in the aspect of the design is what the designer intends it to be used for and what the observer thinks it should be used as. The function of the trail to me is to create a calming environment where people can go on a hike or just enjoy nature for a day. Whether someone wants to escape their life for a few hours or just clear their mind, the trail offers nature walks that helps. They achieve this function by having various activities and allowing the visitor to choose how they want to spend their day. Overall, the importance of design in the aspect of functionality is the idea that the function of the Trail is to allow everyone to choose how they want to spend their evening and to offer activities for everyone to enjoy.
The image below shows the bridge leading to the deck on the water with the forest in the background. Although not shown in the photo, the bridge goes to a big deck that has picnic tables where people can enjoy their food with a view. When thinking of a nature walk many do not think of picnics or decks but this Trail offers new sights and wants people to enjoy nature and not be afraid of the wildlife. One can also notice the two signs next to the bridge, offering guidance through the use of pictures on where to go if you want to go on a hike or biking. Overall, the function of the Spruce Creek Preserve Trails is to offer a safe way to enjoy nature, but it can also be whatever the viewer wants it to be.
Taken by Renag Morkous, a bridge that leads to a picnic area overlooking the river with trees surrounding.
Through my observations of the Trial, I have found that philosophy plays a key role in the various design aspects. A major component is to offer a sense of relief and to give their viewers a relaxing atmosphere. I like nature so walking through and hiking with my friends helps me forget about all the bad in the world and gives me a sense of hope. The photo below shows another one of the bridges where you see a lot of birds and just hear nature as you walk down. The views were gorgeous and calming, giving the idea that the Trails were intended to be used as a way to navigate life. Nature, to some people, can be a guide to living a healthier lifestyle. The most important part of the design of the Trail is to allow people to have the freedom to use nature as a guide to a healthier life. The design of the trails helps to create a positive atmosphere and a philosophy where everyone is welcome. Design is evident in the Trails by showing how design is universal and not just artwork is considered design. Overall, the Trails work with eth city to help create a cleaner and healthier atmosphere for everyone who goes to the trails and everyone who lives around it.
Taken by Renag Morkous, a bridge that people can walk to see the birds and the trees.
As a University of Florida student, I have experienced my fair share of stressful situations, so I like to take a break from school sometimes and go on to clear my head. Often college and life can get in the way of living a life of travel and adventure but going to the trails has helped me because my friends and I can go for a picnic or go on a run. We have been able to reconnect and have gotten closer. This assignment has taught me that you can find design anywhere regardless of where you look and that it is important to find the good in life.
In conclusion, when observing the Spruce Creek Preserve Trail, I had not found any design aspects because I was not looking for them. I now understand that design is everywhere, and the Trails are just one example of a place that addresses design in secret. Form, function, and philosophy play key roles in addressing the role design in the Trails. Space offered room for individuals to observe nature while getting a break from the real world. Their signs also use various forms of typography, color, and symbols. Overall, the experience helped me understand the universality of design and how even the Trails have different aspects of design whether hidden or in plain sight.
Volusia.org on Spring Creek Reserve
Phap Vu Buddhist Cultural Center
© Student Designer 2021
For the past few years, I’ve been a part of the Phap Vu Cultural Center, working day-to-day operations as a volunteer, witnessing and participating in cultural events, and recently, on this experiential learning visit, analyzing the design of not only the buildings themselves, but also the design of the communal aspect of the temple, all of which have helped me learn more about my heritage’s culture, but also expand my worldview and understanding of the value of such cultural centers.
Photo taken of the main building, taken by me, 2019
As far as the concrete design for the cultural center goes, I’d say it’s very plain. I hadn’t taken the time to explore the design of the temple before my experiential visit, so the following observations are from that visit. The main temple isn’t immensely grandiose in its construction, but it doesn’t feel extremely welcoming either. There is a large pavilion area behind the temple, with a stage to host singers and performances, as well as a small cafeteria for lunch after Sunday ceremonies. The pavilion is basically an extremely large metal frame with a roof, and the cafeteria area is a repurposed single family home. This is a common theme for the cultural center, as much of the cultural installations were clearly put in as time went on, rather than acquiring land and building on top of it immediately as a wealthier organization might. For example, there are smaller statues depicting religious figures spread around the pavilion, but they don’t seem to be truly integrated in the space. Though many of the other cultural centers/ Buddhist temples I’ve been to overseas, especially in Asia, run off of donations and hosting cultural events, similar to this one, those are seen by an immense amount of people, and as such have very extravagant displays. Their Buddha statues are usually enormous, presumably made of the best marble money can buy, with large flood lights shining on them at night, for visitors to not lose sense of scale when the sun isn’t out. There are red and gold accents everywhere in the main halls, as a sign of good fortune, and large pots for incense burning and huge crates for donations placed to maximize income. I’m reminded by the Phap Vu cultural center’s plain design that it was built by one man, the head monk, and also operates on donations from visitors, though on a much smaller scale, he lives in the house adjacent to the center, and most regulars know him by name. As such, I feel that there is a sense of community that isn’t comparable to the larger centers overseas, as running such a center at such a manageable scale allows for a much more interaction between the same people. When I went to the larger centers overseas, I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed by their sheer size, which I feel invites a notion opposite to what a cultural center’s purpose is, to feel at least a little inviting, and a little modesty can go a long way in building a personal attachment to such a place.
Photo of interior of main building, taken by me, 2019
If there is a core audience for the Phap Vu cultural center, it would have to be people of Vietnamese heritage, essentially Vietnamese immigrants who see the cultural center as a proxy for many of the events and celebrations that aren’t held in American culture. There is a strong sense of community instilled in those who come regularly, since in my years of coming to the temple, I basically see the same people running the kitchens, cleaning the temple floor, and organizing the events. However, since there is such a sense of community based around cultural and racial ties, one might think that this sort of center might be at least a little intimidating for those outside of the cultural bubble to feel welcome. On my experiential learning visit, I tried to emulate this experience by simulating experiencing the cultural center as such a person who might be outside of the cultural bubble, someone who isn’t Vietnamese and doesn’t speak the language. I had noticed that many things about the center aren't immediately obvious to someone who doesn’t come often, or doesn’t speak Vietnamese. For instance, it isn’t obvious that you should leave your shoes outside the door to come into the temple, unless you see other people doing it. Many of the signs are laminated pieces of printer paper, some of which are poorly translated from Vietnamese to English. There really isn’t much by the way of instructions or directions telling a visitor where certain facilities are, such as restrooms, or the cafeteria. Asking around can be difficult, since many of the volunteers don’t speak fluent English. These small quirks of the cultural center really drive home the fact that the center is for Vietnamese people primarily, first and foremost, and those who aren’t in the know regarding the language or are coming to the center for the first time are left to their own devices to ask for help. To clarify, I wouldn’t say that the community/volunteers at the temple are outright irritated by non-Vietnamese people, I’d say that most, if not all, are generally very helpful, and try their hardest to push through the language barrier to try and help those out of the loop with whatever they might need.
If design in this situation is the organization of space, the organization of community at the temple, then I’d say the exclusion of those outside the cultural bubble by means of focus on the main group of Vietnamese people hurts the cultural center in making spreading awareness and knowledge about Vietnamese culture more difficult. I couldn’t say for certain if the goal for the center’s existence is to purely facilitate Vietnamese culture and its people, and those on the outside coming in for curiosity’s sake are merely an afterthought, but as a Vietnamese person myself, I’d like to see change regarding the accessibility of the center for these people, in order to show how interesting our culture can be. For these past few years, I had generally felt welcome at the center, but looking back on it, much of that sense of welcomeness stemmed from my being part of the cultural circle. With this analysis in mind, I’ve come to realize that much of the design for these sorts of institutions (centers, places) of cultural significance, is deeply connected to the intent behind their existence, and many shortcomings regarding accessibility and inclusion can be observed as a direct consequence of that. As such, design for all such places can be improved by first and foremostly rethinking the purpose of the place’s existence, as well as how it has changed since its inception, and secondly, thinking from those perspectives that hadn’t been previously acknowledged, since accessibility and inclusion stem from the broadening of one’s horizons.
Identity through the Lens of The Perez Art Museum Experience
© Khanyma Nelthropp 2021
Being raised in Miami my entire life, I know that it is no exaggeration that South Florida is a hotbed for culture. As someone interested in the arts in particular, places like Downtown are invaluable to fostering culture and creativity—both from the locals, and from people all over the world during events like Art Basel. When I think about design and identity in regards to my home, I immediately knew that the Perez Art Museum (PAMM) would be my choice to talk about. PAMM has had a huge impact on my life as an artist and is teeming with culture that is available for the public to explore in a way that encompasses the beauty of art and design effortlessly, as well as the spectrum of gender and sexuality I have explored this past semester.
From a distance, the Perez Art Museum is certainly one of the most interesting buildings on the strip. Aside from its sister facility, the Frost Museum, there is nothing quite as unique looking in the area. While Downtown Miami is full of generic high rises and hotels, PAMM has a grafted, wooden top, with what appears to be plants hanging from the roof. The actual building itself contains its own self-irrigation system, and the planters that hang from the top are completely watered through the building’s own design. There’s plenty of greenery to be found on the museum site beyond that, from flower beds near the entrance to an exhibition garden, with statues among Florida’s natural plant life. There is no large sign indicating the building’s purpose, but rather a small plaque dedicated to its founding. The white walls and greenery create a very neutral, but welcoming, appearance. There is no overbearing architecture, the entire building feels as if anyone can be there, and I felt that during my visit, and every visit before then. While there is no explicit inclusion of any one identity in the way the building is, this makes it a perfect blank canvas for its exhibits. A museum is simply a vessel, and the true purveyor of cultural experiences should be the artists that make the institute worth visiting. There were exhibits from artists all over, from local artists to Cuba, Africa, France, and more. This made the work stand out as a story of many, and I felt as if anyone from any race or sexuality or gender could come here and feel represented.
Image taken by Daniel Azoulay from https://www.pamm.org/about/building
The way the museum is structured internally is a major factor to its success. The entrance is a series of large wooden doors that open automatically—something that I found was particularly nice for people who may use a wheelchair or other assisted devices—and beyond the admission entrance, the rest of the interior is completely open. Other museums I’ve visited in the past have a very clear through line they want you to follow, but PAMM’s design clearly facilitated nonlinear exploration of their works. There were one-off pieces all displayed in galleries, but other areas led to entire case studies done by one artist, taking up their own rooms. In the past, as someone who is black and LGBTQ+, it has felt as if museums prioritized certain types of exhibits or shafted the artists with experiences like mine into their own little corners in ways that didn’t feel meaningful. To me, the way PAMM is set up feels more inclusive than any other institute I’ve ventured through there is no pressure to enter any one area in particular, and artists aren’t segregated by their identities, rather they get their own space to flourish and enact their own vision and be showcased equally with people from all other identities. The art takes priority over the general public’s sensibilities, and that allows for a much broader spectrum, from people who look and act like me, to people who are the complete opposite.
Image by Paul Clemace, taken from https://www.archdaily.com/488927/non-stick-pammArt Museum Miami / Herzog and de Meuron. Image © Paul Clemen
I have not particularly spoken about the specific exhibits that I saw at PAMM, and that is for a reason. The philosophy of the building goes beyond each art piece as an individual, and rather the collective. Every six months, the exhibits at PAMM change out, and every time they come from a range of artists from all sorts of backgrounds. This rotating roster means that artists of virtually every creed have been here, and the way that the museum displays them imparts the sense of multiculturalism the museum clearly values. Beyond the art, the museum hosts tons of events every year, turning its floor space into areas for all sorts of people to come in. In particular there is the Pride event they do every June, in which the entire museum is lit up with rainbow colors and everyone is invited for free to enjoy themselves and the community. Throughout my time researching for my particular theme, it’s clear that community bond is a major part of the LGBTQ+ experience, and that is evident through the work of queer designers. Those values are reflected by the museum itself, not only though events like the aforementioned pride night, but through the museum’s design itself. There is a graceful subtlety to the design of PAMM, one that implicitly gives the comforting feeling of belonging. It’s a light touch that showcases the desire to let art speak for itself, to let people of all walks of life, marginalized people who may not get to otherwise, speak for themselves.
Image by Robin Hill, taken from https://www.pamm.org/calendar/2017/03/pamm-pride-night
At the end of the day, PAMM is not a new experience for me. I’ve been there many times in my life, yet my appreciation for it never dwindles. Being from a diverse background only makes me appreciate the care that went into the design of the museum even more and, revisiting it now with a greater appreciation for the design process even more so. It is important as a society that we take the time to appreciate the subtle things in life, the understated meanings that can come from even the smallest things. That’s why I love PAMM. There is a reflection of the diversity I have come to love as a black queer woman, and as someone who was lucky enough to be surrounded by interesting people with stories: people who don’t look like me, but we may share a struggle nonetheless. It welcomes you in, giving you an experience that feels uniquely yours: no pressure, just the beautiful synergy of culture and identity expressed through art.
Florida Museum of Natural History
© Genna Nordling 2021
On the outskirts of the University of Florida campus, you can find 3 public spaces that are there to encourage the education of students through physical art, performance art, and natural science and history. These institutions are the Curtis M. Phillips Center for Performing Arts, the Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art, and the Florida Museum of Natural History. For this assignment, I decided to go to the Florida Museum of Natural History (FLMNH) because I am very interested in Science and Natural History and wanted to see the exhibits that they had. During my visit, I truly realized how much more knowledgeable about design, and was able to analyze the different aspects of the museum with the tools this class gave me.
Immediately upon entering the museum, it feels like a place of learning. There are informational signs everywhere in all of the exhibits, helping you learn about what you are seeing in front of you. Almost all of these signs around the museum are in a very gender-neutral and simplistic font and the color scheme of the signs in each exhibit is different to represent the aesthetics of their environments. A great example of this is the welcome sign to the Butterfly Rainforest. The sign has a green color scheme and utilizes a fun, readable, and simple font that makes it easy for the people who are visiting this exhibit to get the information they need to. I think it’s very important that the type and colors of these signs are gender and age-neutral because learning about science and natural history isn’t just for one sex or for little kids. Even though some things in the FLMNH seem to be or are specifically designed for kids (such as the interactive learning games in the Survival of the Slowest exhibit or the kid-specific Discovery Zone) many adults like myself are lifelong learners and enjoy museums, and having the design of the heart of the museum, the information, be targeted to a certain age group or demographic may off-put some people, especially if the museum wasn’t labeled as a children’s museum. However, because most of the museum uses these neutral fonts, colors, and methods of educating, it makes the museum more inclusive. And, I won’t lie, even though I am technically an adult, I still enjoy interactive games even though they may be targeted towards kids, I think they are a great educational tool for any age.
This is an information welcome sign you see once you enter the Butterfly Rainforest. Picture by Genna Nordling, 2020
When considering the function of this museum, I must bring up the exhibits about the cultures of Native Americans in Florida. One huge section of the FLMNH is taken up by the South Florida People and Their Environments exhibit. As someone who has lived in South Florida for almost all of my life, I have developed a deep appreciation for the cultures of the Native American peoples that were here long before anyone else. However, while walking throughout this exhibit I couldn’t help but think about whether or not the museum had asked for permission to showcase these sacred artifacts. But in another section of the museum, there was a sign in an empty case that said that the museum was actually consulting with the Indigenous people of Florida to seek guidance on whether they should showcase those artifacts. It’s very important to me to have the knowledge that they were working with actual natives. But, just as you are exiting this section of the museum, there is what appears to be a propaganda mural of a very diverse group of people standing on a dock, supposedly showing that everything is a happy cohesive environment now. While there has been so much progress made from the beginnings of Florida, this mural is definitely propaganda to make people believe that everything is perfectly good and happy, which isn’t accurate to the history of Florida or the United States, it isn’t even accurate to modern times as Native Americans all over the country are still struggling and facing hardships because of the “Americans” that came and colonize their land. This exhibit is supposed to celebrate the Indigenous peoples of Florida, which it does, but I feel that this mural could have done a better job of showing the tragedies that they have gone through and giving resources on how to help, especially because they are working with the tribes to get guidance on their possession of sacred artifacts.
Photo of the mural in the Native American exhibit by Genna Nordling (2020).
After spending the day in the FLMNH, it’s very clear that they follow a universal design philosophy, and want to be a very inclusive space where everyone can feel comfortable and learn about science and the natural history of Florida. This is evident from the aforementioned gender and age-neutral text found on the informational signs throughout the museum. Another notable thing is the fact that the entire museum is wheelchair accessible and there are ramps and railings to make it easier to navigate around the exhibits. Something that I noticed from focusing on design and gender and sexuality is that the women’s bathroom didn’t have a designated baby changing table, just extra space on the counter where the sink is a diaper-only trashcan, something that led me to believe there may be a similar set up in the men’s room. This is a great example of universal design because it also gives dads a space to care for their children, which is especially important because the museum is a popular spot for families. Also, the museum is completely free for everyone, giving people access to a great source of information, which is also universal design. While the Butterfly Rainforest and Survival of the Slowest exhibits are not free to the general public, they are free to UF students and faculty, which shows that the museum really is committed to education and wants to make its exhibits as accessible as possible.
A picture of the space for changing diapers in the women’s room by Genna Nordling (2020).
Going through this museum played to and influenced my identity as a science lover, a Floridian, a college student, an avid museum-goer, a lifelong learner, and a woman. I learned more about slow critters, butterflies, and fossils, enhanced my appreciation of Native American culture, utilized a resource that was free to me as a student, learned about new things, and felt a belonging in the community of science as a woman. There was no catering to a specific sex or age (there was a separate kids-only section), I loved how inclusive the exam was, but wished that it better showed the struggles of Native Americans. Overall, I had a positive experience and learned a lot about the aspects of design in a public setting (and fossils and butterflies, etc…)
Makeup Drag Panel: Experiential Analysis through Expression
© Hunter Oropeza 2021
Through my visit to the Makeup Drag Panel at the Reitz Union, I was able to truly have the experience of immersing myself in a culture of the LGBTQIA+ Community. I explored a sense of nonconformity and pure acceptance, as the main qualities of the event were centered around acceptance, exploration, and no judgement.
The incorporation of design as a form was an extremely prominent gesture as the design choice in the form of the layout of the space was very inviting. As I entered the room at the Reitz, I was immediately greeted with both familiar and unfamiliar faces that all encompassed a warm sense of belonging and positivity while displaying a diverse array of confidence. Upon arrival, I filled out a small waiver detailing my experience in the field of makeup design. The document was completely confidential between myself and the Drag Queen so that I felt comfortable exploring a defining learning experience..
The space itself was a room slightly tucked away in the Reitz Union, with purposefully placed stations for social distancing. The room was not overly bright, which allowed for Individually placed LED light mirrors to light up your face so that you could see the progression of your makeup, and understand the true meaning of being a drag queen. The tools available to us aided in our overall success as designers in this ever changing field. The experience acted as an opportunity to get a behind the scenes experience of what these Queens go through on a daily basis, and the effort in which they displayed in their design experience shapes the way we experience so many qualities that define identity and expression.
Figure 1: This is an image of me after I sat down at my designing space with my personalized LED lit mirror, photo taken by Hunter Oropeza (2021).
Figure 2: This is an image of the display of makeup used during the event and how it creates the idea you are in a makeup studio, photo taken by Hunter Oropeza (2021).
Analysis of Function
The way the class was designed allowed for my experience to be very personalized. Throughout this defining process, I was able to further my interpretation of the step by step process, and really focus in on the intent in which the Drag Queens directed us in making our own personal makeup choices by giving personal accounts of their own. As makeup is a form of creative art expression, we can find that it is an artistic movement that aims to encompass all types of people. Some of the makeup materials used at the event, which I saw in previous O-Blog Share Outs, allow for further expression and truly reinforce that us as individuals, no matter our gender or sexuality, can be persuaded to further resist worn out stereotypes that women wear makeup while men do not. Now in the 21st century, I see popular artists from around the world express themselves using design gestures not just through makeup. Through this movement, they are able to portray themselves as they want to be seen rather than conforming to societal norms of what was considered acceptable 10+ years ago.
The function was further expressed through its design intent, as it was established as a segment of a two week series of events through UF P.A.M. (Pride & Awareness Month). I heard about this event through an advertisement at a local coffee shop in Gainesville called Opus. On my usual iced Slay Queen drink, the cardboard insulator caught my attention and acted as a beneficial advertisement component, as it listed all of the events and times. During the span of this course I recall using function and expressing the purpose of intentional design as a way to represent the boldness of the rainbow flag, what it stands for, and how it can truly be such a simple design that displays such a significant message. Without the function of good design, personal accounts like this one, never would have been an experience as I would never have known about their events.
Figure 3: This is an image of my iced coffee at Opus Coffee by Hunter Oropeza (2021).
Figure 4: This is a screenshot of Inertia, the Drag Artist’s Instagram Page, taken by Hunter Oropeza (2021). https://www.instagram.com/
Analysis of Philosophy
The ideas encompassed through this movement are enticing and exhilarating to say the least. Understanding more about the culture of drag queens, and the story behind the work they produce, allowed me to further my preexisting knowledge of the subject, and in turn share this idea of expression with others. The ability to share that space and not have to worry about judgement was such a huge part of the overall experience for me. Sure, mess-ups were a part of the process, perhaps a large part for me; however, it is truly a defining moment when expression has a balance with the moments found in these events. Inertia, the Drag Queen who ran the makeup panel brought us into her background sharing that she felt a sense of hatred and uncertainty throughout earlier parts of her life, similar to a lot of people who were gathered around me. Through her work and establishing her individuality, she is able to go and express what she believes including this artistic form, as she is a brilliant and creative individual that just graduated from UF in the Fall of 2020 with a degree in Aerospace Engineering. In a mere moment during the process when we were defining our own individual eyebrows, Inertia stated, “... Let yourself decide where you want them to be placed. Every movement you create is characterized by you and is owned by you, and nobody can take that away from you…” Through this idea of identity, I was able to encompass philosophy and further gain an elemental understanding of what being true to yourself really means.
Figure 5: This is an image of another college student attending the event finalizing her makeup design choices, taken by Hunter Oropeza (2021).
The overall atmosphere of the environment and its designed counterparts allowed me to experience the event from a different perspective than the preconceived one I had going into it. Through design components found in logos and propaganda for the event, as well as the ideas flowing throughout the space, allowed for this experiential learning to become a firsthand experience. The stories and philosophies stuck in my mind for days, and will continue to shape my understanding of identity just as design continues to shape so many components of the world around me. This overall experience allowed me to take the thoughts I have encountered through my discussion posts, and develop a deeper collective understanding of the overarching themes I explored. These areas of design can shape both something so small, as in the span of a two hour event, but also something so large as in our everyday lives.
A Day at the Harn Museum
© Student Designer 2021
Design is a multi-faceted concept. It involves not just the structure and format of the objects and places we see everyday, but also accounts for how each one has an impact on our experiences and differs due to our perspectives. Design must involve the accessibility to people of all ages, races, genders, sexualitys, religions, etc. When I visited the Harn Museum of Art, I realized the complexity of the building and each mindful decision that went into its creation. Before entering the museum, I accounted for my personal perspective, as I am a cisgender, white, able-bodied woman, and this would play a role in my experience at the exhibits in terms of what pieces resonated with me as well as things that I would not even notice due to my biases and privileges.
Upon arriving at the Harn Museum, I immediately noticed how open and wide-spread the layout of the building was. There was a map provided at the beginning of the museum that displayed all of the different sections. It was divided by the different themes offered, which explored various cultures, religions, and time periods. The map that was displayed had each section of the museum color-coded, which showed the distinction and made it easy to see how it was formatted. This led me to be able to see which section of the museum I wanted to visit first and easily presented them for anyone to visualize.
Additionally, there were multiple areas that had QR codes, which were linked to audio tours that could be accessed by anyone with a mobile phone. These allowed for everyone to get more information on the pieces while also allowing those who are blind or cannot read the ability to experience the exhibit. This was an important factor to the museum as it served as a guide and an opportunity for more of the population to learn about the art. Accompanying each painting and art piece was a brief blurb of text that described the background of the piece, the creator, and what materials it was made of. With all of the information provided in a digestible manner, the design of this museum was clearly intentional and made for its participants to have a relaxing and stress-free experience at the museum.
My theme throughout this course was religion and spirituality, so I took it upon myself to identify the religious influence of the art pieces and how this played into the different cultures included in the museum. Within the Asian and African collections, the respective religions that were practiced within these cultures were involved in the art, as religion is seen throughout many aspects of culture. With Hinduism being a major religion in Asian culture, one of the artifacts was of the Dancing Ganesha, a figure that represents divinity.
The inclusion of these pieces allows people to be informed and exposed to cultures that they may not know much about. People that attend museum exhibits may tend to have a wish to learn about new cultures and about the art around the world and throughout time. The Harn Museum provides its attendees with information about each art piece, with facts that will allow them to leave the museum having learned something new. As mentioned earlier, there was a paragraph along with each object explaining its meaning and what it represents. This was intended to aid the observer in understanding the art and having a greater appreciation for what is in front of them. Personally, I found these texts to be very useful in seeing what the purpose behind the piece was and how it was created. With the religious features of the museum, I enjoyed seeing some familiar elements of Eastern religions that I had previously learned about in classes and from traveling and experiencing different cultures. I saw some new traditions within the cultures as well as some religious figures that I had not learned about before. This was important to read about and see because I am very open to learning about different spiritualities and religions, although I practice Christianity.
The Harn Museum of Art made everything very clear to read, there were no stairs, there was seating provided, and there were handicap accessible doors. The designers of the Museum had an apparent objective to make sure this building was suitable for people of every ability and age to enjoy it and have an easy experience. The text next to each painting was at a level that was legible for people of all heights as well as those in a wheelchair. There were benches located all throughout the museum, which allowed people to sit whenever needed.
Overall, this museum allowed for freedom to go to any exhibit in any order, based on whatever your preference was. When I walked around, I realized that there was no fixed path in this museum and it had multiple walls and areas that contained art. It gave the feeling of having your own choice of where you wanted to go first and not be forced to see any particular piece. I felt that this was definitely intended by the designers of the attraction. The whole layout of the museum had a very open feel, and this related to how the museum could be explored by its visitors.
My visit to the art museum was very refreshing and very enjoyable. I loved seeing the various art scattered around the museum, and seeing the different materials that each artist used made them so unique. I haven’t been to a museum in quite a bit so it was something that made me feel very relaxed. I valued all of the information I learned about Florida history, women in art, and the multitude of cultural pieces displayed. With the accessibility of each part of the museum along with the diverse experiences that can inform people from any background and perspective a thing or two about art, this museum is a wonderful experience.
“Luna” Moon Sculpture in Downtown Gainesville
© Student Designer 2021
As a young woman relatively new to the Gainesville area, I will be analyzing the design of a public space and how that design impacted my experience, as well as how that same design could impact the experience of others with special focus on my semester-long topic of gender + sexuality. Specifically, I decided to visit the area behind the Hippodrome Theatre in downtown which contains multiple art sculptures, including “Luna” by Ted Crom, the main case study of this essay. While there, I recorded notes on my experience, including the form, function, and philosophy of the design of the space and sculpture itself, as well as captured pictures of what I viewed. I also made sure to analyze the experience through others’ point of view to ensure I considered how others may feel. Throughout this process, I made multiple discoveries and realized that the design of this area utilizes inclusive design through artwork.
Although the area behind the Hippodrome may seem like a simple outdoor space, its design holds a lot of value. The focal point is a large, metallic, crescent-shaped moon with a mustache, thick eyebrows, long eyelashes, and red glowing eyes. Below this sculpture there is a simple plaque with “LUNA” in large typography and the artist’s name and email. Because it felt so out of place, I was immediately drawn to the artwork, and it made the experience memorable. A specific part that stood out to me were its red eyes that contrasted against its metallic material, almost as if the sculpture was a living being, witnessing and experiencing the space with the patrons. The size of this piece also made it clear that it was there to be spoken about and seen in the space, acting as a vessel to connect strangers. On the face itself are features that are associated with masculinity, despite the chosen feminine name ‘Luna,’ which reinforces the idea that people shouldn’t assume anything about a stranger, especially if they have no background information. Still, I had multiple questions such as: “Why title it ‘Luna’ instead of ‘Moon?’” or “Why construct a large, dull colored piece rather than a colorful one to capture attention?” Ultimately, the sculpture transformed the space and turned what could've been a boring area into an engaging sight.
I think one of the main functions of this piece is to spark conversations and curiosity. Because it has no context on its plaque, viewers are free to interpret the piece however they see fit. Its audience is anyone that passes through the space regardless of race, age, gender identity, etc., and because of its lack of context, I was inspired to research the history of the artwork and came across an extensive amount of information that made the experience feel more meaningful. I discovered that this sculpture was just one out of over 20 pieces that are part of downtown’s public art show, and the history of the artwork itself is even more enthralling. “Luna” was initially showcased at the Burningham festival, an event made to celebrate and create a positive and permanent culture around art and self-expression, where everyone is truly welcomed. At the sculpture’s debut in Gainesville, the artist shared a picture of himself from the festival where he was dressed in a tutu and blue eyeshadow, supporting that the piece is a symbol for acceptance and self-expression, which can be an important part of how one chooses to express their gender identity or sexuality. And in its first placement in downtown, a multicolored light post shined on it, adding life to its plain background. Unfortunately, this light no longer stands near it today, and I am disappointed that I won’t be able to experience it in person.
The philosophy behind this design strategy was to create a sense of community in the area. Including art in everyday public space is a great way to unify a town. By implementing art into an otherwise regular space, it creates an ‘attraction’ that causes strangers to connect with each other, and it helps businesses hidden behind the Hippodrome. For the “Luna” sculpture, the philosophy was to create a simplistic concept with a dramatic effect. I believe that it represents self-expression and can even act as a beacon for comfort to those who feel lost, either literally or figuratively. It is a common idea that people who feel lost or alone have conversations with the moon, and this sculpture is a great representation of that. Giving it a face also makes it easier to relate to, as it has human features to empathize with. And because the moon is not specific to one group, it’s easily recognizable and a universal thing that anyone can relate to. Lastly, because the sculpture is located in what is essentially a back alleyway, people, especially women, may feel unsafe traveling through the space, especially while alone or at night. I personally would've been too scared to visit this area at night alone, but I believe that it is heavily lit and surrounded by businesses, so hopefully one gains even a little comfort from that.
This experience really made me analyze the impacts the design of a public space could have, and the consideration (or lack thereof) that is present when planning public spaces such as this one. I evaluated this space through the lens of my own personal identity, a young woman who appreciates art (although there is more to me), along with trying to view this space in a way that I don’t or can't personally identify with to see if this experience is universal and inclusive. I personally enjoyed the space as I again am a fan of art and enjoy viewing, interpreting, and connecting with various artworks. I would love to revisit this space and others like it at various times (like at night or on a busy day) to see if and how my perceptions and perspective on the space and piece change. In the future not only will I continue to appreciate the works of art, but also try to research further behind its context as researching this sculpture led me to a plethora of information that would've otherwise gone unnoticed by me. It was great to learn about the history and gain a deeper understanding of the piece, and in turn how the inclusion of this work of art affects the surrounding space.
It is extremely important that the design of a public space is inclusive and universal because ‘public’ implies open to all, and after this experience going forward, I will be sure to analyze not just the design of public space, but also design in general to try and find any implications and issues it causes, call out restricting designs, and try to come up with solutions that not only solve the problem, but enhance and better the experience for anyone who may come across it.
“Luna” sculpture by Ted Crom, Hippodrome Theater, and surrounding plaza.
Photos taken by the author (2021)
The Harn and Design
© Jada Pallagi 2021
The experiential learning activity asked us to visit a public space or cultural event and to analyze our experience through our lens and what we have learned throughout this course. The Samuel P. Harn Art Museum at the University of Florida is where I chose to go as I have a deep appreciation for art and its history and have heard many positive things about this museum. It’s important that my expectations for the museum and my own identity as an abled bodied white woman are acknowledged when considering my experience.
When walking into the museum I immediately felt very calm. I credit this to the cool colored white walls, the quiet atmosphere, and a very simple seeming layout. The room is designed so your only focus is the art and for me this was very visually pleasing. Each piece of art whether it was a sculpture or painting, or some other form of art was positioned more or less eye level which meant that my gaze could easily be switched from piece to piece with ease. The one thing that I loved the most about the form of this museum though was the brief text next to all of the works. Instead of just giving the artist and the year the work was made, there was a brief context and explanation of each piece. As someone who enjoys art history, but does not know too much about it, I really appreciated the text telling me what the artists intentions were behind the piece whether it was a political statement, a practical use item, or just an expression of their emotion through their own lens. A unique feature that the Harn included was an audio tour. This QR code was able to be scanned so instead of reading through all the little captions for each piece they could be read to you. My topic for this class was dis/ability so I was very happy to see such an inclusive design element in the form of this museum. By providing a written and audio version of text it creates that same valuable and informative experience that I had, for someone who has difficulty reading for any reason.
The Harn has several exhibitions at the moment that are culturally and socially informative. Several of these exhibitions such as “Breaking the Frame: Women Artists in the Harn Collections” caught my eye specifically. As a woman I immediately feel a greater appreciation towards art created by female artists. The all-female, women artists exhibition was very empowering. It was not simply a collection of art done by women all over the world, it was a feminist statement, showcasing the talent of the artists along with their struggles. While the Harn itself does not explicitly express their political or social views, the art they display can be very politically and socially charged. The piece that blew me away the most in this exhibition was maybe one of the simpler pieces of art there, it was a framed “pop quiz” that read “If February is black history month and March is women’s history month, what happens the rest of the year? Discrimination.” The women artists exhibit worked as propaganda and inspired me to want to act for equal representation. The more I read and observed the work of all of these powerful women, the more inspired I felt to be one of them. It’s something special as a woman to feel empowered and confident and this exhibition sparked up something inside of me that made me feel extremely connected to the art.
The museum as a whole was very easy to walk through, the several exhibitions as well as a few outdoor patios and gardens were very loosely interconnected that kind of allows you to go where you please and form your own experience. Everyone experiences things differently, so it is important to acknowledge how I went through the museum and how others around me went through the museum. I was able to stand for most of the exhibitions and walk around freely. When I did start getting more tired toward the end, or if I found a particular piece, I wanted to stay at longer there was ample seating available for me. Many of the more complex pieces that were either more interactive or more significant had benches or chairs in front of them. This seemingly simple addition allows for a more inclusive design because standing for long periods of time can be challenging for certain people and they should be able to experience the museum the same as everyone else. Another notable design element was how open the exhibitions were. All of the doorways and walkways were very wide and most of them didn’t have actual doors on them. By creating an open space, it made it easy to go where you pleased within the museum. All of the exhibitions that did have doors, most of the time because they were outdoors had wide double doors with an automatic button. These buttons opened both doors automatically creating a wide entrance to the next exhibition. Even though I can open doors on my own I understand how important these design elements are for someone who can’t.
The ADA requires that public places such as the Harn have these modifications so that public places are accessible for those with disabilities. Even though these things are required the Harn still does a great job of creating an inclusive atmosphere from the audio tours as I mentioned earlier and the wide walkways and paths. These things help make the museum a place that everyone can enjoy without difficulty.
My experience at the Harn museum was inspiring and refreshing. The accessibility of the museum made it easy to walk through, the content of the museum informed me about different cultures and ways of life throughout history and empowered me as a woman and an ally through politically charged pieces. The design of the space allowed me to have a unique experience with the art. Just like design, art is subjective and can take on different meanings and functions for different people. This class has taught me a lot about the world around me and this experience made me realize how much of it can truly be applied and how to take action and change the design of the world going forward.
Images photographed by Jada Pallagi on April 15, 2021:
Contemporary Highlights exhibition at the Harn Museum
Guerilla Girls Pop Quiz (1990)
Seating area in the Harn Museum
§ back to contents
© Hanna Pasqualini 2021
Pike Halftime is Pi Kappa Alpha’s Philanthropy event in which they challenge sororities to create a themed dance routine and compete in their version of a dance competition. All of the proceeds from this event benefit the CHOMP cancer foundation. The themes of these routines included fire, dreams, and even the 2000s era. These themes were representative of the identities of the performers. Often the themes connected with my semester topic gender through messages about femininity and strength.
Dance is a form of design that has so many sides to understand and analyze. From costume, to music, lights, and movements, dance can communicate different messages in so many ways. This is clear in all of the performances at this event as each team used different tools to achieve their goals and communicate their messages.
Chi Omega’s 2000’s themed routine had bright pink lights, upbeat music and large motions. All of the songs in this routine were empowering and had a message of feminine beauty and strength. Pink is often associated with love, happiness, and femininity. With the choice to use pink lights, these themes were easily identifiable within the routine. Paired with the large strong movements, I felt like the dancers were trying to empower and remind me of my strengths as a woman. With my semester theme being gender, I loved seeing how this routine highlighted gender as something powerful and beautiful through their design choices of color, movement, and music.
While all of the dances used color to communicate their ideas, Kappa Alpha Theta’s blue lights and creative costume helped them to achieve their cloud and dreams themed performance. White and blue acid washed sweatpants were worn by all of the dancers to stand for clouds. As the blue lights shined upon them, it appeared as if the dancers were within the clouds in a dream like setting. The use of the blue lights created the sky that became the setting for the entire routine. They used light smooth motions that made the dancers look like they were moving in slow motion. This effect made the dancers appear just as clouds do as they pass over us in the sky. This created a calming and inspirational effect on the audience. They then changed the music to include lyrics centered around dreams. This created the inspirational follow your dreams message within the routine. This transformed the dance from being something that was beautiful to watch into an encouraging routine with a deep underlying message that applied to everyone in the audience. Being a dreamer is an identity associated with someone who has big goals and is always working to achieve them. This routine highlighted those people and encouraged others to pursue their dreams as well. The simple stylistic choices that were made in this routine made the theme and messages easy to follow.
The night was closed off by Kappa Delta’s fire themed performance. The dancers wore sparkly red tops and dark red lights shined down upon their dancers. Powerful movements and large formations dominated the stage. The dancers were bold and confident in their motions and quickly switched from tennis shoes to high heels. This connected with my feminine identity as I felt like it was a message to be fiery, confident, and unapologetically yourself. This same message is understandable to anyone but was mostly targeted at women through the song choices. Their song choices had messages about being confident, not changing for a man, and being a powerful woman. Themes of strength were clear in the lines of the songs. These lyrics allowed a routine that was seemingly centered around fire to have a deeper message that would not have been achievable otherwise. With all of these factors together, they were successful in creating a routine that had multiple levels of symbolism and messages.
All of the routines used their performance as a platform to spread a larger, more important message. They used their themes as a starting point of communicating their messages. They often used a combination of color, music, and costume in order to communicate these deeper messages to their viewers. Each single aspect of the form of the routine was an integral part of communicating the messages to the audience. For most of the routines they were easy for myself and most of the audience to connect to. As most of the audience and performers were female, it was easy to connect my personal identity to the images and messages being created by the routines centered around feminine strength, power and beauty. While a man could still understand these messages, identifying with the themes being presented connected the viewer to the performance that they were watching. This allowed their messages to be much more powerful and successfully delivered to their audience.
The first purpose of these performances was to entertain the judges and the audience of the event. The dancers wished to create a cohesive and fun routine that conveyed their message to the audience. But the deeper purpose was to bring awareness and raise money for a cause that these performers and their friends are so passionate about. The event itself was designed to use the entertainment created by the routines as a lure to buy a ticket. Then, throughout they encouraged the audience to donate money to the CHOMP Cancer Foundation in return for the challenging work and effort all the performers put in to put the production together. The ticket sales and donations at the event would then be used to support the fraternity’s philanthropy. While on the outside it seems like an entertaining dance competition, this was designed to encourage donations, create interest in their philanthropy, and to fulfill their goal of raising money for the CHOMP Cancer Foundation.
This is an image of one of the performances captured by myself (2021)
Design in Economic Class: Emirates First-Class Cabin
© Sahaj Patel 2021
The umbrella concept of design deeply ties into economic class. The United Arab Emirate’s international airline, widely known as Emirates, would be a prime example of elegance and lavish design throughout their exclusive First-Class suites. This airline holds a public perception of ultra-luxury and high class. This essay serves to dive deeper and explore the form, function, and philosophy behind the various design choices made to maintain and grow this “brand image,” as explored through a 3D tour provided by Emirates themselves. This tour allows for an eye inside every consumer-facing part of the plane, including the lounge, spa/shower, and an in-suite view of the First-Class Cabin. Throughout all these features, I observed the individual facets of design that give this product an identity. Overall, I toured through both Emirates’ First-Class cabins, one on the Airbus A380 and the other on the Boeing 777.
Emirates shows clear thought and design through form, be it the typography, the colors, materials, and overall organization. The most evident element of form is shown through the typeface itself. The Emirates logo itself ties back to Arabic calligraphy, which in and of itself exudes a historically high-class aesthetic given that the United Arab Emirates is statistically the wealthiest country in the Middle East. Additionally, the use of various shades of gold coloring tied together with rich wooden accents seem to provide an additional sense of luxury. The conventional design of an airplane cabin gets thrown out of the window, as this cabin takes the form of spacious suites, as pictured below. Such observations are necessary because of the level of detail and consideration made for the target clientele, the ultra-rich. From my perspective, such luxuries seem wasteful to pay over $60,000 for. However, one must acknowledge that privacy and ready access to quality meals, showers, and other quality-of-life improvements are of utmost priority for that target clientele.
Figure 1. View from first-class passenger seat. Picture obtained from Emirates’ cabin virtual tour. Taken April 18, 2021. https://www.emirates.com/us/english/experience/3d-seatmap/
The aspects of function employed by Emirates seem to build on form to provide comfort and privacy throughout the various suites in the First-Class cabin. As pictured above, these suites are widely spaced, complete with a fully retractable bed, a large TV, a wardrobe, and walls on all four sides, to maximize privacy. In traversing through an online tour of this cabin, one can observe the level of thought placed into designing this part of the airplane, as the lounge offers fresh fruits and snacks readily, the compact show/spa takes every detail into account, as well as the suite allowing control of every aspect of the stay through a central, simple touchpad. This is important because it can be easy to get lost in the unreasonable barrier to entry to access the First-Class cabin. Stated with relative certainty, 99% of people would think even a business class offering would be extravagant and unnecessary, let alone the First-Class option. Throughout the online tour, I kept thinking about how many special considerations were being made in general, such as the assorted bins for hairdryers and such in the shower area. If anything, this experience solidifies the tried-and-true concept of “you get what you pay for,” which in this case would be a flying 5-star hotel room. Below, an image of the outer view of the suite is pictured to better illustrate the attention to detail in considering function.
Figure 2. First-class pod highlighting the retractable seat. Picture obtained from Emirates’ cabin virtual tour. Taken April 18, 2021. https://www.emirates.com/us/english/experience/3d-seatmap/
Through my observations, I feel that philosophy is also a significantly represented aspect of design, just by the nature of this scenario. The overall product is designed to be as cut and dry as a flying luxury hotel room made for people who could afford it. As I navigated through the lounge and the spa, and the main cabin, the main thought I had was about how niche this area was and how much space it takes up. For packed long-haul flights, a similar plane full of just economy and business class seating would be able to accommodate the travel of a lot more individuals. Inherently, this makes the design less efficient, less universal, and less sustainable. Though this high up on the economic food chain, such does not matter, and the design philosophy here caters to that. Every cubic inch of the First-Class area, as seen from the online tour, is built with the sole purpose of providing a luxury experience with no costs spared. To put the hypothetical icing on the cake, below, the first-class lounge is pictured, which simply radiates with class and sophistication, which is an example of the philosophy considered in the design of this First Class experience.
Figure 3. First-class lounge view, highlighting the luxury aesthetic. Picture obtained from Emirates’ cabin virtual tour. Taken April 18, 2021. https://www.emirates.com/us/english/experience/3d-seatmap/
To tie all this together, I will introduce myself and my positionality. I am a Freshman at the University of Florida, fortunately living somewhat comfortably given the middle-class safety blanket provided due to my parents’ toils in running a successful small business. This would be relevant in this analysis due to the nature of the topic being presented. Growing up, I have never had an itch to own a mansion or fly first class, etc., primarily because such factors seem unattainable. Trying to stay realistic has been the most recurring theme in my analysis of this tour, as anyone offered to fly with such luxuries would accept. Still, beyond getting lucky, I do not see myself ever booking a First-Class flight with Emirates.
To conclude, my experience of touring the inside of the iconic Emirates First-Class suite leaves me with a few main thoughts about their use of key design aspects to address the upper elite that they are catering to. From the choice of materials, like premium wood grain and genuine leather, to the layout, spacious isolated pods complete with everything you could need in an airplane, to the ambiance created through the intersection of every little detail, this service and product category exist for a reason. Through all these design decisions, we can safely gather that the identity portrayed by Emirates is one of class, luxury, and extravagance that they want to provide to their customers. As they are known to be one of the best at delivering such an experience, it would only make sense that there is substance to this widespread predisposition.
The Creation Museum
© Sam Peacock 2021
Religion is one of the most fundamental factors in an individual’s identity; it defines who we are and gives us a roadmap to live our life by. As a follower of Christianity, I can confidently attest that it has shaped my life for the better, as well as the lives of those around me. In keeping with what has influenced my identity to the fullest, I decided to base my experiential learning adventure around a virtual tour of the Creation Museum, located in Petersburg, Kentucky. The state of the art facility includes around 150 exhibits, which trace the origins of Christianity. The primary message that the museum communicates is that some modern day Christians are straying from the foundational values of the religion; a dangerous habit. It intends to refresh visitors on the importance of this foundation through an immersive experience of the origins of Christianity. This endeavor not only allowed me to appreciate the important history of my religion, but also enabled me to understand on a far deeper level the extent to which my identity is connected to Christianity.
The overall design of the museum was extremely interesting, and enhanced the experience tenfold. The layout can be broken down into two main themes, which are ordered in a way that delivers the message of the museum very effectively. The first theme addresses the state of Christianity today, through an exhibit called “Culture in Crisis''. The first component of the exhibit is a model church, with a wrecking ball that is labeled “millions of years” smashed through the roof. This signifies how over time, religious values have progressively become neglected, which is leading to the demolition and undermining of the foundation of Christianity. The second component of the exhibit includes a simple model house with three windows, each of which displays a different consequence for the neglection of Christian values. Abortion, porn, and divorce, all visual examples of the moral dilemmas which one can be caught in if they stray away from their beliefs.
Culture in Crisis exhibit at the Creation Museum, by Eric Bangeman (2014). LINK
This exhibit is very important in setting the stage for the museum’s purpose. It conveys that Christianity is in dire need of a culture shock, as it is trending away from the moral values that it was founded upon. The design of the exhibit itself was very effective in communicating this call to action. First, the analogy we see with the wrecking ball and the church provides an epic visual for what the museum designers want us to understand: the foundation of Christianity has deteriorated over time, and we must act now to save it. This call to action is then personalized for the visitor through a depiction of the modern household, and the strife which can arise from neglecting morality. This exhibit reminds the visitor of the benefits of staying strong in their faith to God, and provides an important perspective of how far the practice has fallen from its origins.
The museum then segways into the next theme: the magnificent display of God’s power rooted in the creation of the universe. The rest of the exhibits are designed in a way that showcases the wonder of our world, and reminds the visitors of the power wielded by God. The first of these exhibits is called the wonder room, which features a variety of images of the solar system. Accompanying the astronomical imagery is a video showcasing the natural wonders of Earth, such as the Grand Canyon and Niagara Falls, which reminded me that I have taken for granted the spectacles of our home and instilled in me a fitting sense of wonder. The next visit on my journey was a lush botanical garden, which symbolized the Garden of Eden. This included a diverse display of vegetation along with a natural hot spring with life size representations of Adam and Eve. All in all the exhibit was a very powerful scene, as it highlighted the unbelievable variety of life on our planet. These exhibits are followed by a number of small exhibits that delve further into biblical implications of God’s creations, which are capped off with what is referred to as “The Answers Hall”. This final hall included a series of plaques which posed a number of modern day moral questions and how faith can guide us to the answers.
Garden of Eden exhibit, Creation Museum website. (2021)
The rest of the exhibits all shared a common theme: the power of God is almighty, and there are copious examples of this that surround us in our daily lives. The message here can be summarized as a sequence of visual reminders as to the beautiful life which we have been given, a world of wonders that we must respect through upholding moral values. The designers of these exhibits did an exceptional job of conveying this message, through simple yet meaningful design. The layout of the wonder room was simple -- beautiful imagery of the solar system and natural wonders of the world -- yet it served to remind the visitor that not only do we take for granted Earth’s beauties, but we must be appreciative of them. This concept is elaborated upon by the Garden of Eden exhibit, which showcases the wonder of life. It reminds us that not only have we been given a beautiful place to live, we have also been given the beautiful gift of life. Finally, the Answers Hall provides an effective conclusion to the journey, which drives home the museum's message: the creation of the universe is a spectacular gift, which we must honor through upholding Christianity’s moral code.
Reflecting on this experience, I can safely say that it has had a beneficial influence on my perspective of my own faith and how it defines my identity. This can be accredited to the masterful design of the Creation Museum; it utilizes the power of visual learning in a way which shaped my perspective of the world around me. During this experience, I was reminded of the wonderful life I am able to live, as well as the magnificent creation that surrounds me during my daily life. Not only did this make me more appreciative of my circumstances, it also allowed me to take a step back and examine my day to day affairs and analyze why I live the way I do. It reinforced my moral values, and enabled me to understand how religion has shaped my identity in a way that no other aspect of life could. It has shown me that the code of conduct that my religion establishes is imperative to the preservation of our beautiful world, and my actions in the present as well as future will undoubtedly be influenced by this new perspective. In conclusion, this enriching cultural endeavor has without a doubt shaped my understanding of my own identity and those who also identify as Christians, and has reinforced my appreciation for the culture that I have been given the opportunity to enjoy.
How The Harn Museum of Art Celebrates Diversity
© Vianna Quach 2021
Art is design at its purest. It is a form of communication, an expression of an emotion or an abstract idea. Because of this, art museums hold the power to curate and choose what voices are going to be heard, and they are able to control how people experience art. The Harn Museum of Art embraces cultural diversity and community through exhibiting a wide range of cultural art to be enjoyed by all. In this essay, I will be detailing my personal experience of visiting the Harn Museum of Art, as well as analyzing how the museum’s design and artworks conveyed its philosophy of inclusion.
When most people think of art, famous paintings by Vincent Van Gogh, Michelangelo, or Leonardo da Vinci often come to mind. Many art museums I have visited in the past capitalized on this idea, displaying famous European artworks on the frontlines, while art from Africa, Asia, and South America became an afterthought. Upon entering the Harn, I realized that this was not the case in this museum. The first piece displayed at the entrance of the Harn, Margaret, Countess of Blessington by Kehinde Wiley, presents a striking portrait of a Black man adorned in bright colors and patterns in front of a floral background. The caption explains that the artist, Kehinde Wiley, specialized in portraits of Black men and women he found on the streets of Harlem, and “painted in the tradition of 19th-Century historical works.” Kehinde Wiley also notably painted the portrait of President Barack Obama, featured in the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery "America's Presidents" exhibition. By exhibiting such an impressive portrait of a Black man, by a Black male artist at the start of a museum goer’s experience sets the tone for the rest of the experience. It is evident that the curators of this museum wanted to emphasize the message of inclusivity and diversity by displaying a significant piece by a Black, American artist right at the start.
Collage by Vianna Quach showing museum label and painting of Margaret, Countess of Blessington, by Kehinde Wiley (2018).
As I moved through the Exhibition Hall, the message of diversity continued to be highlighted as artworks from Asia (Japan, Korea, China), Africa, South America, and the United States were displayed around the room. The large room allowed an abundance of space for large masses of people to move around and analyze the art from different perspectives. This open floor plan including ramps and elevators also allowed for wheelchair accessibility. The circular design of the museum led me through the galleries, past Photo Highlights, Modern Highlights, Contemporary Highlights, Ceramics, towards the back at Asian Highlights, and looped back around to the front through Bishop Gallery, and African Highlights. This layout allowed me to easily navigate through the exhibits as the pathway led me around to experience all the museum had to offer. Benches placed around the exhibits offered areas of contemplation and introspection throughout the museum.
Whole walls presented the gallery name as I entered a new area of the museum, using large text and a serif font to announce and set the tone of the next exhibit. For example, as I arrived at the Women Artist Collection, “Breaking the Frame” was printed across the wall in bright red, serif lettering. An immense crack detailed the wall around the text, and “Women Artists in the Harn Collections” was printed underneath. This bold rendition emphasized the significant and groundbreaking work of women artists, who were able to “break” artistic conventions.
Dedication of an entire room to women artists truly inspired me; by displaying work by women of different nationalities and backgrounds, the museum celebrated the intersectionality of the women artist experience. Captions under each piece tell the stories of the women artists and the motivations of their work. Coulson Family, 2008 by Deana Lawson is a pigmented inkjet print that exemplifies a nuanced, yet nostalgic domestic narrative. Through her photographs of domestic settings, Lawson represents “Blackness” within what seems like a simple family photo. The photograph pictures a mother with her two sons in a living room where the paint doesn’t quite reach the ceiling, surrounded by typical household items like drawers and a tinsel covered Christmas tree. As I studied this photograph, many memories of my own family seemed to be reflected in these “strangers.” While many of its aspects seem specific only to this family, anyone could observe this picture and feel a sense of familiarity within it. It celebrates diversity in a way that everyone can relate to and share.
Photo taken by Vianna Quach of Coulson Family, 2008 by Deana Lawson (2008).
The Asian Art Collection also significantly impacted me. Being a Buddhist Vietnamese American, seeing an entire section dedicated to art that reflected my culture felt very fulfilling. Wood paneling embellished the floor, walls, and ceiling, and a panel of windows unveiled the Asian Water Garden. These Asian cultural influences (most of which are Japanese) surround the exhibit in order to submerge the viewer in Asian culture. The tiny, intricate jade sculptures, pearlescent jewelry boxes, and statues of Buddha on display reminded me of objects I would see at my grandmother’s house. By experiencing this sentimentality, I was reminded how much representation truly matters. I realized the feeling of being “seen” is extremely gratifying, but representation is something that can be easily taken for granted. Because of this, the fight for inclusion is never over.
The entrance of the Asian Art Collection at the Harn Museum of Art, pictured by Vianna Quach (2021).
The Harn Museum of Art delivered on its message of diversity. By curating its exhibits to include art from around the world, the Harn elevates a variety of narratives to create a collective display of cultures. With this experience, I learned how design operates in a physical space, how it can be accessible or oppressive. Moving forward, I will continue to be conscious of how design affects the space around me and to learn more about how to improve design.
Harn Museum of Art
© Ashley Ray 2021
The Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art is located in Gainesville, Florida and is linked directly with the University of Florida. I chose to visit the Harm Museum after looking at the website and discovering that in both their temporary and permanent exhibits, they showcased photography and landscape paintings. Both of these types of art interest me as I got into painting over quarantine and have had a photography business for five years. Additionally I saw that the Museum featured an exhibit for Women Artists, which fit into my theme of analyzing the relation of gender and design. Not only does the museum feature art exhibits, but also multiple gardens, which I enjoyed walking through. Overall the layout of the rooms where the art was featured, the text and graphic design, and placement of the artwork impacted my experience.
While the majority of the art in the Women Art Exhibit was either paintings or drawings, this piece featured in Figure 1 caught my eye. It was different from the others as it was only text. Additionally the bold text and bluntness of the title created a powerful statement. Upon looking at the art I found that it was created by a group of female artists who wore gorilla masks as they created art to fight against gender inequality. Knowing that the women who made this art were motivated by a message helps me understand the art. While I feel like art has deeper messages that viewers can find, this piece did not. Knowing the time period and struggles the women faced, the form of this art appears more clearly. The women were tired of not being valued for their artistic talent. Instead of “keep creating and wait to be valued,” they told society their value.
Upon entering the museum, it was evidently clear that the designers of the museum manipulated the placement of the featured art as well as the size of the building to send a message. I have visited art museums in multiple cities and states, including the Smithsonian, but had not been impacted by the layout of a museum before. The layout of the Harn juxtaposed anything that I had seen before. Many of the previous museums I had visited felt a bit cluttered and as I walked around I felt overwhelmed by the amount of work featured. In addition the walls that the art was mounted on simply was a place where the art was hung. In contrast, the Harn was displayed in such a way that walls and building structure contributed to the art. Immediately upon entering the museum the first thing that is evident is the open wall space. Every exhibit featured a substantial amount of empty wall space. Each room felt as though it was too large for the art it featured. The hallways were extremely wide and entrances to the different rooms had high ceilings. All of the rooms were connected and I was able to walk through easily. As I went through I felt very small. This feeling was created by the contrast in size of the art and building. This stylistic design functioned well as it showed me that we as people are always smaller than the art. While physically this is not always true, the arts expressed hopes and dreams that are much larger than we'll ever be. The feelings that come from viewing art and infinite and preserved for multiple generations of humans to come. The open space was also symbolic as it showed that art is always evolving and we should never limit ourselves to what the human mind can create. By leaving a plethora of wall space, it shows that open space should be filled with our thoughts and emotions triggered by the art.
It was evident from the moment that I noticed the entrance of the Women’s Exhibit shown in Figure 1, that the Museum was not only featuring art created by women, but rather telling the story of these women who created the art displayed. Knowing that throughout history, women have not always been appropriately credited with their work, seeing an exhibit that was not afraid to showcase the struggle was empowering. Figure 1 features the entrance to the Women Artist Exhibit, where the color and placement of the text and graphic design play a role in the art display. The use of the color red is not only a bold choice that draws a viewers attention, but also signifies a struggle or sacrifice. Red is typically associated with bloodshed during a war. The war in this case was the fight for women to have the ability to create and be seen as serious artists. The graphic design choice of a crack along with the title “Breaking the Frame” was a simple yet powerful design. When the word break comes to mine, it has a negative association as we are worried about the value of the object broken decreasing. That is the exact opposite of this exhibit. It shows how the idea of breaking it is not negative, but rather empowering as women break through stereotypes and societal rules that limit them because they know their worth. The vastness of the break immediately draws the viewer's attention to the exhibit and the diversity of the featured art throughout the exhibit continues to do so.
In conclusion, I thoroughly enjoyed my time visiting the Harn Museum in both the virtual and in person format. Being a Gainesville native, I had previously been to the Harm Museum of Art before, but lacked the proper maturity to appreciate the art at its full capacity and truly delve into the message and feelings that the artists projected into their work. Being able to spend time physically at the museum and exploring the website allowed me to fully grasp the function, form and philosophy of the art displayed in the Harm Museum.
Photos by the author:
Figure 1: Image of the entrance to the Women Artists Exhibit, Taken By Me
Figure 2: Image of artwork displayed in the Harm (Harm Museum, 2021),
Figure 3: An exhibit in the Harn Museum, Taken By Me
Women’s Museum of California
© Giuliana Ribas 2021
Within the topic of gender lies the subtopic of Women and their contributions and accomplishments made throughout history. In relation to this, I was able to explore the inner workings of a museum dedicated to demonstrating many triumphs accomplished by women. The museum is called the Women’s Museum of California located in San Diego, California.
Commencing with the concept of form, many elements came together to create the virtual tour. Moreover, the first thing that I was able to notice from the tour was the bold, large lettering utilized for the title of each exhibit. Specifically referring to the “Women Inspire: California Women Changing Our World. Part 1” exhibit, the only part of this title that is in all capital letters and portrays such empowerment is the “women” part, which goes to show that it was women who were behind all of these accomplishments displayed within the museum. The next part of the title, which includes the word “inspire” is also written in a large font; however, it is not bolded. Instead, this part of the title is written in a cursive font, which I believe is to put emphasis on what it is that women are exactly doing.
With all the titles being formulated in a similar manner to the way described above, the only difference between each virtual exhibit is the color scheme. Even though the color schemes are drastically different, the use of bold colors seems to be a similarity in all of them. For example, in the “Part 1: Drive for Equality” exhibit, a dark pink, purple, and orange color scheme is demonstrated. With such prominent colors in use, it gives women a sense of power and dominance. In another exhibit, the use of blue colors is utilized. Furthermore, this exhibit can be identified as the “Part 2: Find Your Inspiration” exhibit. Again, it can be recognized that the colors used in the exhibit are dark colors, which adds to the entire message of the exhibit identifying the leadership and perseverance expressed by these women.
As for the organization of each exhibit, it seems as if each one presents images with a substantial amount of text accompanying it to explain the significance of the image displayed. This becomes very helpful to the audience, which consists of young adults interested in women’s history. In the first virtual tour that I went on, since it was more inclined to preserving historical figures in the history of women, all of the images were black and white. However, in the second virtual tour I went on, the images were in color mainly because of the recency of the topics discussed.
In addition, the use of an organized manner in combining all of these elements is what really caught my attention. Moreover, each exhibit is the same in including images as well as some text on the walls to accompany them. Alongside this is the text on the stands at the bottom of the picture, which go more into depth on the subject of each image.
Analysis of Function
When discussing what is being communicated by each exhibit in this museum, it is important to recognize that the main goal in maintaining this museum is to preserve the history of women’s accomplishments and inspire the future generation of women. However, there are some differences between each exhibition. As an example, in the “Part 1: Drive for Equality” exhibit, the pivotal message that is conveyed consists of remembering all of the ways in which women were able to build stronger communities. Thus, by existing as “scientists, artists, activists, and leaders in politics and business,” (California Exhibit) women have proved their role in society. To distinguish from this example, another example in the virtual tour was the “Part 2: Find Your Inspiration” exhibit had the underlying message of communicating more recent successes made by women. All things considered, the function of the messages is to inspire the audience into believing that they too can reach such peaks in their lives, especially those members of the audience that identify as women.
The reason that I am able to make these inferences about the message trying to be communicated is due to the context of each exhibit and the words used by each piece. By paying close attention to certain words/phrases such as “extraordinary”, “heroes”, “overcome obstacles”, and “achievements” one can notice that these exhibits exist to preserve the past and inspire the future of young girls. I, too, feel inspired after experiencing this virtual tour because I feel driven to work harder for a more equitable society just like many women in the past have done.
Another aspect that I believe is vital to the message being communicated is the method in which the designers of the museum were able to establish a connection between the content of the museum and the viewers of the museum. Since I was able to view the exhibits via a virtual tour, it becomes essential to incorporate a way of connecting the audience to the exhibits. Therefore, I think that the designers did this by including super specific images from each exhibit and then describing those images. I believe that it resulted in a successful turnout due to the large amount of information I obtained.
Analysis of Philosophy
To address the underlying goal of the Women’s Museum of California, I believe that it is to make it easier for people to recognize all of the achievements made by women. Nowadays, it can be difficult to remember the important historical figures that made it possible for women to practice certain things. Thus, with this museum existing, it becomes far easier for anyone to acknowledge these very important individuals. In addition, the design elements that I believe reflected the message of the museum the most were the several physical items included in each exhibit. These physical items, for example clothing, signs from petitions, and jewelry, give the exhibit an interactive aspect that demonstrates that these women were real people fighting everyday for a more equitable society. Thus, this contributes to the underlying message of recognizing these important women.
Lastly, I want to mention what groups are included and recognized throughout this museum. The different groups included ae American Indian, African American, White, Hispanic, and Asian. However, I would say that the most represented group is the Hispanic ethnic group because of the translation to Spanish included in all of the exhibits’ main textual description of each exhibit. The other ethnic groups are also very much represented in the sense that each group has its fair share of exhibits highlighting their people.
In conclusion, exploring the inner workings of this museum was a delightful experience that I hope to be able to do with other museums. By analyzing my experience at the museum, I was able to comprehend what the Women’s Museum of California was trying to disseminate to its audience.
Figure 1: This is an image from inside the Women’s Museum of California (2021).
Figure 2: This is an example of the physical items included in the museum’s exhibits (11/07/2018).
© Leah Richard 2021
For this project, I decided to take an online adventure to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, Netherlands. The Rijksmuseum is a Dutch national museum that houses the work from famous artists like Rembrandt, Vermeer, and van Gogh. It has one million pieces of art in its archive and displays thousands of them at a time for the public to appreciate. This museum particularly caught my attention because as I was virtually roaming the halls of the museum, looking at all of the beautiful paintings, I noticed that almost all of them were painted by men. I further investigated and found out that out of the thousands of pieces or art on display, only three of them were painted by women. With my theme of gender in the back of my mind, I continued to explore the details of the artwork displayed in the different rooms of the museum.
As a whole, the Rijksmuseum’s design is mature, extravagant, elegant, and beautiful. The grand architecture of the building creates a synchronous space for the treasure it houses. When I was touring the museum, I couldn’t help but wonder who built the gorgeous building and it was not to my surprise that it was designed, built, and renovated by men. With that being said, I took specific focus on the Gallery of Honour. This room is located on the first floor and in a central location. The location and name of the room emphasizes the significance of the artwork it displays. Three of those pieces being the three sole paintings in the museum painted by female artists. If each painting did not have a caption beside it to disclose its creator, you would not be able to distinguish whether a man or a woman painted it. They are all exceptional paintings and pieces of art, equally. Each painting is mounted on the wall with the same prominence, each framed with the same elegance, no matter the gender of who painted it.
The overall function of the museum is to share art from the past. In doing that, we get to experience snapshots of time that the artists captured. It allows us to keep some of the past with us in the present and not forget the greatness of the minds of late artists. The museum is like a time machine with each painting representing a part of history. The design of the Gallery of Honour allows viewers to easily access the art in the room. With the central location of the paintings located in the gallery, they are made a more prominent aspect of the museum. The gallery showcases artwork of particular importance made by great artists. The first ever women’s paintings being placed in this particular room emphasizes the importance of these female artists. Rightfully so, as during the later time periods, there were far less female artists than male artists.
The addition of the three paintings by female artists in the Gallery of Honour, shows the progressive ideals of the society today in the Netherlands. In the Netherlands, during the 17th and 18th centuries when most of the paintings in the Gallery of Honour were painted, women did not have the amount of freedom men did. They served the typical gender role of a woman, taking care of the family and household. Female artists were rare, making these paintings even more valuable to Dutch history. The paintings were added to the gallery in 2021 (this year), in effort to highlight the importance of the few female artists among the male dominated period of art in the 17th century. The paintings — The Serenade, 1629. Judith Leyster (1609-1666); Memorial Portrait of Moses ter Borch, 1667/1669. Gesina ter Borch (1633-1690) and her brother Gerard ter Borch (1617-1681); and Still Life with Flowers in a Glass Vase (c. 1690 - c. 1720). Rachel Ruysch (1664-1750). The addition of these three paintings made waves in the Rijksmuseum’s 200 year history. As a female living in the 21st century, I think that this decision to include the brilliant works of art made by women reflects the modern ideals of society today in a place of high esteemed history of the past. Some people may walk right past these paintings in the Gallery of Honour, or not even think about the importance of who painted them. Some people may not even notice that these three works of art were created by the only female artists showcased in the museum, but as a female designer that believes in gender equality, I did.
At the beginning of this course I would say that I would not have been able to analyze the world of design around me as thoughtfully and diligently as I am able to now. Keeping in mind my theme of gender throughout the semester has allowed me to think more deeply about inclusivity and gender equality in the design of the world around me. When I explore designs that are new to me, I feel more careful and thoughtful about my analysis of the designs. For example, the Rijksmuseum. As I was touring the museum online, I paid close attention to not only the gorgeous paintings but also wondering who held the brush that created them and who designed the walls that hold them up. I look at the pieces of art with the lens of a designer that cares about gender equality and inclusion. I am more mindful of how designs can unintentionally show gender bias. In the example of the Rijksmuseum, I admired the beautiful building and the glorious pieces of art on the walls. But I also admired the fact that those three paintings created by women were present among the honored, and was mindful about what that represents for the history of women’s rights in the Netherlands.
Looking back on my virtual experience, I feel confident as a designer. The skills I acquired throughout the semester allowed me to analyze my surroundings through a creative lens. A lens that not only sees the beauty of design but also examines what it represents and how it came to be. An outlook that takes into account gender equality and inclusivity in artwork and design. I really enjoyed experiencing the artwork virtually and I hope one day I can take a trip to Amsterdam and experience the Rijksmuseum in person.
Map of the Rijksmuseum on the Rijksmuseum website, accessed April 10th, 2021.
Still Life with Flowers in a Glass Vase (c. 1690 - c. 1720). Rachel Ruysch (1664-1750)
The Serenade, 1629. Judith Leyster (1609-1666)
Disney’s Magic Kingdom
© Student Designer 2021
Maker of the image and date is unknown. URL is embedded.
“You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality.” - Walt Disney
For my experiential learning activity I took a virtual tour of Magic Kingdom using Visit Orlando: The Official Website. The site uses Google’s satellite technology to give immersive tours of all of the attractions in the Orlando area. I chose to focus on Disney because not only can I refer to my own experiences of visiting the theme park multiple times, but I truly believe that the broad notion of “design” is engrained inside every tiny detail of the Disney experience. The virtual tour of Magic Kingdom took me through Main Street USA and Fantasyland which is where I focus most of my analysis. The technology itself was incredible; I felt like I was in Magic Kingdom and since there were no crowds I was able to pay attention to all of the small features that go unnoticed in most circumstances. In this essay I will focus on my own observations relating to three elements of design: form, function, and philosophy while also emphasizing the intersection with economic class and wealth. I claim that Disney’s designers have to go above and beyond with their attention to detail to make the parks as breathtaking and true to the Disney brand as possible to ensure that visitors feel that their Disney experience was worth the price!
A personal screenshot of the virtual tour software on April 17th, 2021. Notice the accessibility option in the bottom left hand corner. URL is embedded.
Just from my virtual experience alone, I was able to identify so many examples of design relating to form. While I participated in the virtual tour I listened to the Main Street USA soundtrack on YouTube to make my experience that much more immersive. I also know that the Disney experience is formed from the interplay of the five senses….the sights, the music, the smells, etc. After all, form in design does not necessarily mean the elements are tangible. When you walk onto Main Street USA from the park entrance there is a wide open path (when there are no crowds) with a picturesque view of Cinderella's Castle in the distance. I imagine it was designed this way to keep people moving forward and to give them a “destination” to go towards. The architecture on Main Street reminds me of buildings from early twentieth century America. Everything is well-lit and all of the buildings have big open windows for park-goers to look into. This design choice makes sense to me; visitors would otherwise be stopping to read the storefront of every building and furthermore smaller children haven’t yet learned to read. I also noticed so many trash cans on Main Street (Disney is well-known for its cleanliness) but strangely enough it only feels like there are an unnecessary amount of trash cans when you pay attention to it. Notice in the image below how the trash cans are painted the same color as the sidewalk to make them less eye-catching. Furthermore, if people were littering in the parks then Disney would have to employ more people than they already have to be cleaning up after visitors which would affect their bottom line as a business.
Count the trash cans! Personal screenshot taken on my virtual tour on April 17th, 2021. URL is embedded.
Engaging in the virtual tour of Magic Kingdom and analyzing the functional aspect of the theme park design made one idea very clear to me: every design decision serves a purpose to make Magic Kingdom what everyone looks forward to when they anticipate the Disney experience: the happiest and most magical place on Earth. There is a notion of escapism at Disney; you are immersed into a child-like state; a worry-free environment; park goers feel like they have entered (no pun intended) “a whole new world”. If Disney didn’t design Magic Kingdom to live up to this expectation guests would not be willing to pay the price of the tickets which have increased steadily since the opening of Walt Disney World in 1971 (see data visualization). Disney are fastidious; their attention to detail to every single experience contributes to the branding of the parks and the satisfaction of their guests, who are so loyal that they have no regrets paying for an expensive vacation. A prime example of my point is Disney’s underground tunnels for cast members to move around the park in, so an employee in their Fantasyland attire isn’t walking around in Tomorrowland, for example. There is so much “noise” going on behind the scenes that guests have no idea about. I think this exemplifies true functional design: maintaining efficiency while simultaneously minimizing the amount of people (in this case, park visitors) affected by the efforts undertaken to keep operations running smoothly.
Maker and date are unknown. Personal screenshot taken on April 18th, 2021. URL is embedded.
In order to analyze the design philosophy in Magic Kingdom I am going to refer to personal experiences of visiting the park as well as my observations from my virtual visit, which are naturally more limited. I believe that Disney does a wonderful job of integrating universal design into their theme park experiences. From my recollection there are always strollers, wheelchairs, high chairs, benches, water fountains, bathrooms, and refreshments available throughout the parks. Disney wants all visitors to feel welcome; guests deserve an equal opportunity to enjoy themselves. I also acknowledge that although incorporating universal design into their theme parks likely requires a substantial investment in infrastructure, making their parks as inclusive as possible is financially beneficial for the company. It would not be profitable if the theme parks were not accessible to all types of people. Disney’s cast members contribute to the universal and democratic design in the Disney parks as well. Cast members come from all over the globe; their name tags even have the name of their hometown which helps international visitors feel “at home” and included. This is a wonderful example of how people can serve as “elements” of design in fostering positive experiences.
My virtual tour of Disney’s Magic Kingdom enabled me to experience Disney in a new way, where I was able to focus on how different components of design interact with each other to create one of the most successful, most recognized, and most sought after experiences in the world. There is thought and intention behind every feature of the Disney parks and lots of design decisions that impact the audience without them being fully aware of it. The attention to detail within the design of the Magic Kingdom Park is remarkable; there is something to observe and notice from every angle and I believe that this ethos is what makes the Disney experience one of the most valued in the world. __________________________________________________________________________
“If you can dream it, you can do it.” - Walt Disney §
The St. Petersburg Pier
© Student Designer 2021
After visiting the St. Petersburg Pier and conversing with multiple visitors and employees and evaluating my own experiences, I have learned how the Pier utilizes its form and function to develop the designer’s philosophy into space the Pier creates and how that philosophy has affected my experiences at the public institution.
The Pier’s form is most visible and interactive in its size, materials, and organization of space, though it was the organization of space that stood out each time I visited the Pier. The organization of space, namely the long, narrow walk to the main building of the Pier seen in figure 1, made it feel like I was on a ship or walking to the entrance of Atlantis. (Fig. 1) This walk is accessible to many people since small trams run the entire length of the Pier to give those who cannot make the long walk an opportunity to reach the main building on the Pier. The trams, which are free-to-ride, are constantly filled with people because of their availability; there is always enough room for people who need it, even on the Pier’s busiest nights. I have used the tram multiple times for leisurely purposes and everyone who needed it to get to the end of the Pier was able to get on the tram and find a seat. The walkway is also inclusive to fishers, as, at various points on the walk, there are areas where boats can temporarily dock to filet and cook their fish directly on the Pier, making it much more inclusive to those who arrive at the Pier by water transportation. When I was at the Pier, I saw multiple boats (and jet skis) pull up, drop off people, and go dock at the nearby marina, some laden with fresh fish. The Pier’s inclusivity due to its organization of space made the form of the area accommodating, inclusive, and awe-inspiring in its ability to disconnect me from the mainland and give the feel of a Bahamian paradise, even though I was never more than one mile from shore.
Figure 1: This is an image of the St. Petersburg Pier and the walkway leading up to the main building at midday by the author (2021).
Analysis of Function
The Pier is nothing but a heap of concrete without the visitors, who truly make it what it is through wayfinding and persuasion. Since the Pier juts out into Tampa Bay, there is only one way to get to and from the main building, which is through the aforementioned walkways. Those walkways, however, functioned as means to direct me and the flow of foot traffic from the parking lot, through the various vendors, singers, and musicians, finally to the Pier’s restaurants that reside in the main building. The walkway continues functioning as a pathmaker on the visitor’s way back to the mainland, leading me onto another parallel concrete walkway also laden with musicians and vendors. In my experience at the Pier, I found that the function of the design persuaded me to walk through the various vendor kiosks and encouraged me to buy things. The persuasion of the design, however bad for my wallet it might have been, has helped self-starters and small businesses see massive profits. I spoke to a few vendors, and the construction of the Pier was integral to the continuation of their hobby/occupation. Through channeling a specific path in the design, the Pier’s designers successfully ensured that their intended audience got to experience everything the Pier had to offer, ensuring that the Pier met everyone’s interests to some degree. As a young adult, I found the Pier’s accommodated for not only me but anyone who loves fresh air, local shopping, fresh food, and live music. Even though I was on a tight budget, I did not feel like I missed out on any experiences the Pier had to offer because of my current financial situation.
Figure 2: This is an image of St. Petersburg from the Pier at dusk by the author (2021).
Analysis of Philosophy
The strategy of the designers overtly may have been adding emphasis on Tampa Bay and other natural features surrounding the Pier, though the undertones of the design point towards a goal for enjoyment for all economic classes. An employee at the Pier told me one of the Pier’s previous iterations was the Million Dollar Pier, an institution that excluded the vast majority of people in its name and high prices. Today’s Pier is precisely the opposite of the Million Dollar Pier since it allows anyone to enjoy the sunshine and sea breeze of St. Petersburg and have the option not to spend a single dollar. The openness through the use of modern architecture allows people to explore every corner of the Pier without having to pay to enter somewhere. This is important to me because if it did cost money to enter the Pier, my friends and I would be much less inclined to explore the area since we all are college students on tight budgets. What is even more economically mindful is that the Pier was designed to allow visitors during typical off-hours. The lack of necessity to spend money makes the Pier available to every single economic class, and since the walkway never really closes (just the restaurants and vendors), people who work all day can still experience the breathtaking designs of the Pier even with jobs with long and tiresome hours. Even without the restaurants and vendors, the view of the city of St. Petersburg is priceless, and the designers of the Pier ensured that the design would covertly make that view available to everyone for free. (Fig. 3)
My experience at the Pier was informed by applying my personal design analysis in multiple ways and lenses, both present and in the future. Presently, my personal design analysis focused more on whether I was accommodated financially and whether people who could not walk as easily as me or got here by a different method of transportation were able to enjoy the Pier as much as I did, especially since one of my best friend’s brothers uses a wheelchair. In my visits to the Pier, I consistently sought out to note whether people were able to enjoy this cultural institution to the extent that I was able to, and I found that everyone was accommodated for, whether through trams, free admission, or fish filleting stations scattered throughout the institution. In the future, I see myself caring much less about the amount of money it costs and more about how the Pier tailors to children and their safety.
Throughout the Pier, it is not hard to see that the designers understood that the institution would be used by all kinds of people with varying needs. From the most visible and obvious design choices, like the construction of space, to the invisible designs that make the institution inclusive to nearly everyone, such as the open concepts and the lack of admissions fee which allow the space to remain accessible when restaurants are closed, the designers made it easily defensible for me to regard the Pier as universally inclusive.
Peace River Botanical & Sculpture Gardens
© Maria Ruggiero 2021
The Peace River Botanical and Sculpture Gardens were a very transformative experience for me. These gardens were filled with gorgeous flowers and well-crafted statues, complete with a butterfly house and a koi pond. On top of all that, there is a boardwalk along the trail that leads to a beautiful scenic view of Peace River. The gardens were meant to celebrate the nature around us that is often taken for granted. While I found the gardens to be very gender neutral, there were plenty of statues that provided an interesting take on femininity. The gardens prompted me to reflect on myself and who I am as a person.
The form of the garden is very important to how you experience it. You begin the walk and soon arrive at the butterfly house, which adds a living element that brings another level of beauty and appreciation for nature. You then walk to another section where you will find the majority of the sculptures, the koi pond, and the boardwalk. The sculptures are all placed where you can get a unique perspective on them from anywhere you are standing. My favorite sculpture was the “Steel Palm'' (Figure 1). It is the 18-foot focal point of the garden. I couldn't tell what it was supposed to be when I was on the trail, but when I was walking back from the boardwalk, I discovered that several individual pieces of metal came together to form a palm tree. The unconventional material and color for a tree inspired me to view things differently- which is one of the main points of the experience. After the boardwalk, you approach the koi pond, which brings in another living element towards the end of the walk. After this, you walk through a few more sculptures until you reach the end of the trail. There are benches throughout the walk if you get tired or want to sit and reflect. The typography on the plaques that label the plants is rounded and informal, adding to the relaxation of the environment. There are fun sculptures with bright colors that might grab a child’s attention and make them wonder why those colors were used. More complicated sculptures, like “Steel Palm,” may make adults question why such a unique material was used. There is no gender, race or culture that is represented more than another, which provides an enjoyable experience for everyone. This inclusivity created a safe environment for me to relax and self-reflect on my identity.
These gardens feel like a getaway for anyone of any identity. There is no specific race, culture, or gender theme that is represented over others. This ensures everyone feels included. Being in touch with nature encourages you to reflect on your own identity. Marveling at the plants, sculptures, and wildlife takes you away from reality and places you in a state of wonder. I have always been at pace in nature. I remember sitting in the gazebo at the end of the boardwalk completely alone, surrounded only by the gentle sounds of water, wind, and wildlife (Figure 2). The sense of peaceful isolation encourages you to get lost in your thoughts. I sat there for an hour pondering my identity and who I am. The secluded feel to the garden inspires inflection in any patron in attendance. The trail successfully functions to send you down a path of discovery by using stops like the boardwalk to encourage patrons to take a moment of appreciation for nature and the world around them.
The sculptures on display praised women. They were all beautiful portrayals of women doing different things. There was a swimmer lounging on a float in the koi pond, another of a girl smiling in a rain jacket, and another of a ballet dancer in a graceful pose. These sculptures all embrace the female gender and the beauty of the female form in a respectful way. The ballerina statue is even made of bronze and the skin is not painted, so any race can be represented by it (Figure 3). Any little girl can look at it and marvel at its beauty and see herself in it. The designs serve to make you feel at peace and represented. The plants are gorgeous as well. The flowers help one get in touch with nature and apply that element of obvious whimsical beauty. The underlying tones of tranquility and equality of this experience create a sense of self-awareness. By not focusing on one specific identity, the garden therefore included all identities. I enjoyed viewing such a naturally beautiful place riddled with sculptures of women that celebrate their figures. I think that focusing on the gender aspect of both nature and the sculptures gave me a sense of empowerment.
The afternoon walk through the gardens was very cleansing after a stressful week of assignments and exams. Walking through the gorgeous trail brings a tranquility that is absent from a college campus. When I was surrounded by the butterflies with their delicate and graceful beauty, it seemed like time stood still. I was delighted to view the sculptures that embraced a female essence. After focusing on gender this semester, I was able to deeply appreciate and understand the beauty and strength shown by the sculptures. It was refreshing seeing women portrayed in a beautiful and honoring way rather than being sexualized. In the future, I can look back on this experience when I am feeling stressed and remember that nature is out there. Immersing yourself in nature can temporarily relieve any problem you might face. These gardens will also remind me that while gender inequality is still present in our society, pieces of art like these cast a positive light on femininity.
The designers of the Peace River Botanical and Sculpture Gardens did a wonderful job with the design of the experience. The different aspects of the facility were spread out perfectly. The distribution between wildlife, plants, and sculptures was well-balanced. I think that this balance of form evokes a sense of balance and peace within the patrons. The sculptures amidst nature provided something to look at and reflect on in a safe and peaceful environment. The gardens function to induce thoughts and self-reflection in whoever attends. While you are in such a peaceful state, you can get in touch with yourself on a different level. The experience takes you out of whatever may be going on in your life and it connects you to the earth in a cleansing way. Immersing yourself in nature is the key to relaxing and focusing on your own identity.
Figure 1 “Steel Palm” sculpture (author’s photo)
Figure 2 The Boardwalk (author’s photo)
Figure 3 “Monumental Fire and Harmony” statue
Ringling Museum “Saito Kiyoshi Graphic Awakening Exhibit”
© Quintin Sachs 2021
For my experiential learning, I visited the Ringling Museum in my city of Sarasota, Florida. The Ringling museum was established in 1927 and typically exhibits 10th-14th century European art. From the end of January till now in April, the 20th century artist Saito Kiyoshi is on display in its own exhibition. The exhibit is directly next to the “Silk Road of Asia” exhibit which displays many Buddhist and Hindu sculptures from as early as the BC era. The theme of nationality is prevalent in this paper as it relates to many other neighboring exhibits.
The exhibition of Saito Kiyoshi was more of a walkthrough timeline of his life, as you view, the storyline progresses. Your knowledge about him and the depth of his paintings expands with your curious endeavor. You initially are told that Saito was a sign maker with an interest in painting, then you are presented with a rough sketch of a painting that introduces his style of abstract realism. This trend of storytelling allows a viewer to be encapsulated by a person's life, because as it is human nature, we like nothing more than a good story.
All images were sourced from the exhibit directly, by me. (2021)
This image is an example of the abstract nature of Saito’s art named “Ecstasy” (1950). It first was alluring to American GIs during WW2 because of his eye catching, and strange form. The basis of this painting was “On the thinnest of paper, is a first edition printing… reflects the time and effort spent by Saito bringing life to an almost monochromatic painting” (Charles, Citrin, the previous collector of Ecstasy). This painting is surrounded by other abstract paintings, lavished in Red, White, and Black which are both common colors of traditional Japanese paintings, and the colors of a war that only recently ended violently for Japan. Although the works are presented to portrait the depression throughout the first half of his life, deeply affected after the war: his work begins to show deep sorrowful colors; the faces on his drawings depict neutrality and even confusion.
As with most art and its ability to depict more than words, Saito is able to elicit emotions that can only be understood through the human experience of life and its infinite complexity. While viewing his work, you cannot help but feel tranquil without words or explanation of why your mind feels free. This is because with Saito’s work, you aren't trying to describe the depth, gradient, or form of the painting with words. You are allowing yourself to embrace the painting with the feeling of being languageless and emotionally driven. This is why each piece has a bench and a spotlight, allowing you to embrace the work and ignore the intricacies, because they aren't there. It's easy on the eyes, and easier on the brain.
This painting is unnamed- for individual interpretation perhaps. Just as the last, this piece features not only black and red, but now includes grey in tandem with white. That is the beauty of its function, it hardly serves one purpose. It is everything from a portrait, to a story about something we can't understand. The painting gives us nothing to understand, and also nothing to question. It is the essence of allowing the viewer to make something from virtually nothing. A narrative or a purpose is what the human mind desires, but this abstraction relinquishes no sense of understanding to the viewer. It creates an extremely individualized perspective. In contrast to the ancient paintings featured at the European exhibitions, you won't find a biblical character or reference to history in Saito’s work. That is what allows his function of art to be decided individually.
Saito is quite apparent with his influence from traditional Japanese paintings and abstractions. His creative blend is what attracted American veterans to return to Japan and popularize his art in the states. Which allowed him to spread abstract art throughout the country. The beauty of his work wasn’t its abstract form, it was the simplistic perspective his paintings could depict. Throughout history, paintings were produced for a purpose, a story to be spread generationally or a beauty that can be appreciated by everyone. The works of Saito Kiyoshi were revolutionary in their ability to represent the viewer's power to change the narrative of how art is interpreted. The philosophy of his work is that the simpler, the art, the more interpretations can be made. Philosophically, the spread of abstract art from one nation to another, shows the universal ability of simple art to be interpreted without a common language or even similar heritage, as Japan is on the other side of the planet from the US.
My topic for this class was nationality. As for my own Asian nationality, Japanese art was of keen interest to me. The presentation of art with this exhibit was exhilarating and unlike any other exhibit in the museum. Just as a thought provoking book can make you curious and excited, art that allows you to individually interpret empowers you to choose the emotions you encounter and evaluate away from life's extenuating circumstances. This visit to Ringling was an eye opening experience about the differences between nationalities' history in art. Throughout the Asian exhibits, sculptures dominated the southern Asian countries, while paintings dominated Europe and northern asian countries. These exhibits portrayed to me the importance religion has on the history of a nation, especially within the last 500 years or so.
My experience at the Saito Kiyoshi art exhibition at Ringling Museum was phenomenal and truly allowed me to understand the necessity for abstract art. Without this experience, I would have never considered the individual implications art with personal interpretation can have on someone's life, including my own. All together, this was a cherishable experience and one that I wouldn't hesitate to explore more thoroughly.
“Saito Kiyoshi’s art exhibition at the Ringling Museum”
Gainesville-Hawthorne State Trail Welcomes All
© Claudia Scheuren 2021
Gainesville-Hawthorne Trail is a 16-mile state trail that extends from the city of Gainesville’s Boulware Springs Park through the Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park. The historic rail bed is now a popular trail for cyclists as one passes through diverse wildlife, plants, and a rich story of historical towns.
A map of the Gainesville-Hawthorne State Trail from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, 2020
I visited the state trail for my Experiential Learning Activity to pick up trash with Keep Alachua County Beautiful. They are a non-profit organization on a mission to conserve, recycle, educate, and preserve all things environmental. The design of the trail impacted my time there as I lived up to its versatile purpose. In its lack of human redesign, the trail itself is designed to welcome all to appreciate nature in its purest form.
The meat of the experience lies in the trail’s minimal human touch. This was the first thing I picked up on as I drove in. Greens and browns overwhelm the area as the oak trees provide shade for much of the opening. Leaves covered the street leading in as a sign of humanity standing no chance to nature. There is a downhill slope to a parking lot for a few cars, maintaining the natural shape of the earth. The area has intentionally been kept this way as lots are typically flattened for parking. The small size of the parking lot supports that it is not meant to be a bustling area. These observations note the preservation of the natural topography and history of the area. The space was not made human-friendly, but nature-friendly by working around nature’s path. Signages such as the “Monarch City USA,” sign below emphasize it is also a place to appreciate and protect wild animals. Unbeknownst to me at the time, the sign represents a municipality that supports the protection of the monarch butterfly population.
A photo highlighting support for the population of Monarch butterflies; Beautiful oak trees on the trail provide shade. By Claudia Scheuren, 2021
Additionally, the area was designed to preserve history. Adjacent to the parking lot was a historical home closed off to the public. The trail itself also has history, as it follows an abandoned rail bed. The Gainesville, Ocala, and Charlotte Harbor Railroad Company first laid tracks from Palatka in 1881. There are informational signs along the way to provide background on the historic railroad activity as well as concrete mileage and whistle markers.
In my time picking up trash, I found there was not much to be picked up. However, there was also nobody working there when I went. From my perspective it is a generally well kept area by the community. It is open to the public, and all walks of life. Evidently so, I saw people of all ages and genders, but mostly local to Gainesville. There is nothing exclusive when design is in the hands of nature, especially regarding gender. All abilities are welcome as well with ramps and proper signage. Overall, it is an inclusive environment designed to welcome all sorts of people.
As someone who is busy with college life in the more urban area of Gainesville, I see the trail as a reminder of what once was entirely before urbanization. It is not a very large city, but life revolves around the University of Florida. It is easy to get caught up in student activities and forget that Gainesville sits in a beautiful lush prairie, hence the nickname, “The Swamp.”
In providing informational signage, preserving historical features, and conserving nature, the state has designed the trail to stray away from redesigning nature. It is beautiful as is, and it allows people to interact with it as needed. Bikers, hikers, scientists, kids, horse-back riders, and just about anyone is welcome to appreciate the green on the paved path. I personally went to pick up trash and take a break from the stress of school. However, the next person might go to observe the plants or the butterflies. There is no guideline to who should be allowed there.
In addition to the area I was predominantly in, the trail extends for miles onward to different scenic views. This successfully lets visitors enjoy an abundance of time outside. People can even come back and experience a new part each time, as I intend to do.
Ultimately, the trail lets visitors enjoy nature any form they like in an organized nature without feeling the restraints or crowds of urbanization. Mutual respect from the community for this experience keeps it running smoothly.
I believe the underlying philosophy behind the trail lies in its purity. The trail was paved to offer an almost Safari-esque approach to the green and wildlife that surrounds us. It is minimally invasive while offering insight to its purpose in history.
In my eyes, it can be seen as a place where locals and students alike can share an experience. Most of the experiences that residences of Gainesville experience depend on their stage in life. Students are in college, and remain primarily in that circle. When it comes to the trail, it does not discriminate age, sex, ability, social class. People who grew up in Gainesville can cross paths with someone from another country going to school at UF. Ultimately, the purpose of its design is to take in nature as one desires.
It is important to recognize the position from which I make this analysis of the Gainesville-Hawthorne State Trail. I am currently finishing my first-year student at the University of Florida in Gainesville, but am originally from Miami. Where the trail serves as a place to take a break from college life, it might serve an entirely different purpose to the next person. In fact, someone else might see it as too touched by humans. Someone else might be used to being surrounded by nature as in the trail. Someone else might be there everyday, it is just their routine. Ultimately, the trail’s design takes a different form for everybody else. In the future, it might serve a different purpose for me as my personal experiences with it may change.
Similarly, cultural institutions and experiences serve a similar purpose. It is important to recognize that form, function, and philosophy can change with design according to different people. Everything can be redesigned as the meaning of different things change to different people. Perhaps when I am no longer a college student, the trail will have a whole new meaning to me.
There are not many places in Gainesville that welcome people in all walks of life. As a town that revolves around college life, Gainesville’s demographics tend to be split up. In designing the Hawthorne-Gainesville State Trail to stray away from redesign, not only does it appreciate the beautiful nature but invites all sorts of people who’ll appreciate it to create their own purpose in its beauty. This is the root of what it stands for, and ultimately shapes its identity.
Lavapalooza: A Covid-Safe (Minecraft) Music Festival
© Nathan Schoedl 2021
During August 14th and 15th of 2020, Open Pit, an organization that leads virtual events, held Lavapalooza, an electronic music festival hosted on a custom Minecraft realm. For those unfamiliar with Minecraft, it is a video game that offers users creative flexibility in many regards, one of such being the ability to create realms. Realms or maps are multiplayer servers of “worlds” designed by players or, as for Lavapalooza, are built by a team of designers for the event. To support some of my favorite artists and out of boredom and a desire to try something new, courtesy of Covid-19, I attended Lavapalooza. To my surprise, Lavapalooza became a significant highlight of this past year and had a profound impact on me, especially considering it just being a two-night event. For this experiential learning experience, I decided to look back through photos, videos and chats, treating them as artifacts, to view the festival through the lens of design and understand how the design influenced my positive experience.
Photo of the event lineup posted on Open Pit’s Twitter by Elena Fortune (2020)
The style of the promotional poster included above is quite telling of the energy and vibe of the event: chaotic. Fortune overlaid the font over a photo of lava which sacrificed readability to demonstrate the high energy and maximalist ideology characteristic of many of the music producers featured at the event. Additionally, the font stretches edge to edge for every line, likely to emphasize how the organizers were able to cram a vast collection of musicians to make music sets for the event. Judging from the style of the poster and overall design of the Minecraft world, it is clear that the event is not for everyone, and it doesn’t intend to be. Many musicians featured at the event fall under a genre of music called hyperpop which has strong ties to people within the LGBTQ community. Hyperpop fans can be thought of as a subculture within the LGBTQ community, and popular music artists/groups within the genre such as 100 Gecs, Umru and Alice Gas have helped create a community for people, such as myself, to feel accepted and included. Thus the design of the event, from the music to the promotional material, despite being abrasive at times, inadvertently creates a tight-knit community with unconditional acceptance.
This is a screenshot of Lavapalooza’s “Play Stage,” taken by me (2020)
Lavapalooza and other virtual music festivals were a response to Covid-19 and the public safety hazard of holding in-person concerts and festivals. In my view, a function of Lavapalooza was to demonstrate that you don't need to physically be in a room filled with people to have fun. Lavapalooza took place when many people's mental health, mine included, began worsening over the uncertainty and isolation caused by Covid-19. The event's design, such as the realm resembling a physical concert and the associated Discord to message people at the event, was made to simulate the excitement of attending an in-person concert and harbor lost feelings of connectedness. The design had inspired me to seek creative solutions to diminish feelings of isolation while still following Covid-19 protocols. Additionally, the absurd concept of attending a Minecraft music festival caused me to take myself much less seriously and enjoy things such as dance parties alone in my room, which has provided me the serotonin I've needed to get through this past year.
With respect to people that are immunocompromised, Lavapalooza provided a space for people to feel less alone and be seen. Social media has generally not made it easier for people who are high risk or take necessary Covid-19 precautions since many people post about going to parties or hanging out in large groups. For people with disabilities that weaken their immune system, Lavapalooza not only provided an exciting weekend but also inspired future Covid safe events for hyperpop fans, such as zoom listening parties that are still occurring now.
Black Live Banner at Lavapalooza; Screenshot by Sherm (2020)
A disproportionate number of music artists under the hyperpop genre in relation to the general public are from minority groups, with seemingly the most disproportionate group being trans people. The diverse collection of artists within the genre appeared to have developed organically but was likely a result of artists within the music collective speaking out for underrepresented minorities, thus providing a safe space. Efforts to support minorities were demonstrated at Lavapalooza as all proceeds from the event were donated to the Okra Project, a collective that aims to provide meals and resources for black trans people. Overall, attendees of Lavapalooza raised $20,000 for the Okra Project. Even though the festival was not for profit, no entrance fee was necessary to attend. While this design choice to have no entrance fee might seem foolish considering organizers would donate the money, a fee would have excluded the people Lavapalooza sought to support from attending. Additionally, when exploring the realm, large banners supporting social movements such as Black Lives Matter are seen with relevant information and ways to support the movement posted below. As a gay male and an activist for such social movements, I strongly connect to the philosophy and positionality behind the design of Lavapalooza.
After going through and analyzing media from Lavapalooza, I've come to realize the impact the hyperpop community has had on me and many others. A fundamental human desire is connectedness and satisfying this desire hasn't always come easy for me. Events such as Lavapalooza are designed to connect like-minded people with similar interests and encourage fans to become creators, and Lavapalooza was successful at this. Since the event, I have become much more active within hyperpop groups and have found comfort in talking with people with similar interests and shared experiences being part of the LGBT community.
I took this class as a computer science major since I am aware that I will eventually become a designer for systems used by a large population. Critically analyzing spaces and events that leave a significant impact on me has caused me to become inspired by these events. In my future, I will gain motivation from events such as Lavapalooza to think of ways in which I can positively impact those whom I am designing for.
The importance of design is evident through the accomplishments of Lavapalooza. By acknowledging the shared hardships many face in the hyperpop fanbase as a result of isolation and being in the LGBTQ community, Lavapalooza (virtually) brought together people from around the world to spend a weekend to have fun, become inspired and connect through an event as seemingly absurd as a Minecraft music festival.
American Museum of Natural History
© Student Designer 2021
I have decided to write my experiential learning essay on the American Museum of Natural History located in New York City. Due to global pandemic and the fact that the museum is located in New York I was not able to visit it, so I took a virtual tour. The museum’s website is wonderful offering almost everything one needs to feel like they are actually in the museum. I know for myself that touring the website was an amazing experience. I love learning about natural history especially the dinosaurs and I have to say I had a blast touring the prehistoric animal rooms. Viewing all the massive dinosaur bones was definitely a site to see and I can only hope to visit the museum one day soon.
The website of the Museum of Natural History was designed in a splendid manner. The designers took into account typography, colors, shapes, sizes when designing the website. One can easily tell that the website was designed to give the viewer a fun and easy to use interface. The designer of the website used typography styles that are easy to read, but also have a slight style to them that give off a rugged, historical aspect. For example the photo below displaying the title “Exhibition” has a slightly rugged typeface that gives it a fun rugged aspect.
This is an image of a typeface within the American Museum of Natural History’s website (2021) - https://www.amnh.org/exhibitions
Furthermore, the website uses an excellent color pallet to make everything flow perfectly. It uses the same three to five colors throughout the entire site on its typefaces. This is an excellent strategy as it keeps it simple yet elegant for the users. Additionally the museum’s website does a fabulous job of sizing everything proportionally. It does a great job of making the main points stand out which I thought was excellent. I noticed sizing a lot when I was going around on the website searching for the exhibitions area as the website designers made the title big and easy to find.
While touring the website of the American Museum of Natural History I could not help but notice how well the user interface of the website was designed. One can clearly tell that the website was designed in a manner to allow the user to easily navigate the site to find anything he or she would desire. The menu bars and the search bar made finding information very easy. The picture featured below shows the front page of the museum’s website where you can easily see the search bar and icons on the website.
Image of the front page of the American Museum of Natural History’s website. https://www.amnh.org/
For example, I was curious in finding more information about the economic class of past tribes in the world as my research theme was economic class. So, with just a simple search of economics in the search bar I was able to find articles regarding this topic. I was able to find how some tribes didn’t care much about your status while others had a complex system.
The entire museum had a recurring theme of applying knowledge to everyone who walks through the doors or visits the website online. Whether you are a child or an elder the museum presents information in a way for you to enjoy it. For example, every single exhibit has amazing art. Whether the art is huge statues, reconstructed dinosaur bones, animals, or old artifacts the museum has it. It caters to all ages in the fact that when a child happens to look at the exhibits he/she would just notice the amazing statue or whatever design is put into the exhibit. I know for myself I was in awe when looking at the dinosaur bones. On the other hand, each exhibit has a board with a paragraph or two describing what you are looking at. Obviously a younger child would have no interest in reading it, but for someone of my age or older it is very interesting to know exactly what you are looking at. When I was viewing the dinosaurs exhibit I was reading almost everything about each picture as I thought it was so interesting. Furthermore, the Museum of Natural History strives to provide access to all people whether it be online or in person. So whether you can afford a ticket to the museum or not you will be able to access the museum's wonderful exhibits.
As a finance major at the University of Florida it made sense for my topic this semester to be economic class. Every week on my O-blogs I made sure to make excellent connections between the design topic of the week and economic class. The Museum of Natural History’s website makes sure that no matter what your economic class is that you can visit the website of the museum for free and take a virtual tour of the museum at absolutely no cost. In the future, I do see myself visiting the museum, but for now the free virtual tour will have to suffice.
In conclusion, my virtual tour of the American Museum of Natural History was definitely a great experience. It is clear that the designers of the museum and the website for the museum took into account many design ideas such as form, function, and philosophy. To begin, the form of the website was designed splendidly. Excellent typography, shapes, and positioning made the website easy to read and navigate. Then the search bars and big headings made it very easy to find any information one needed to find. Lastly, the museum has done an excellent job catering to all ages and making everything interesting no matter your age. Furthemore, the museum made sure that all individuals are able to access the museum’s beauty no matter where they are located or what their socioeconomic class is. Everyone in the world should have access to museums and the American Museum of Natural History has made sure that it is possible as long as you have an internet connection.
National Museum of the U.S Air Force
© Owen Shimberg 2021
For my experiential learning activity, I explored the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force in Dayton, Ohio through their free virtual tour. Despite the inability to visit in person due to COVID-19, the virtual tour provided on the museum’s website is very in depth and informative. Not only does it provide high definition photos of all of the museum’s exhibits, but also allows for the viewing of various video programs from the displays. The museum itself provides an in-depth history of the United States Air Force and takes you through the different eras of military aviation. This museum ties in well with my theme for this semester which is economic class. That may not be immediately apparent, but ultimately the Air Force brings together men and women from a broad range of socioeconomic statuses and treats them all as equals. To me, the military is an organization where class is decided by factors that you can control.
Upon beginning the virtual tour, I was immediately impressed by the sheer size of the building. The museum is a massive building that resembles an aircraft hangar. Inside the building, there are various different artifacts from different eras of wartime including full size, real airplanes so numerous that you could not even count them. The museum is laid out very well, and it is very easy to flow through the whole thing and see everything from each era as you walk through. One way that I found the form of the museum really stood out and enhanced the visitor experience was through the placement of the airplanes, specifically the various planes hung from the ceiling.
This is an image of one of the planes suspended from the ceiling I screenshotted from the virtual tour at https://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/Visit/Virtual-Tour/
The strategic placing of the planes suspended like this not only immerses the visitor and gives them a feel of what it would be like to see some of these old planes flying, but also adds more dimension to the museum. This dimension makes for a much more pleasant experience as a visitor to the museum because you are able to be more stimulated by the things that you are learning about.
After completing the virtual tour on the museum’s website, I feel that certain aspects of the tour were enhanced by taking it virtually while other aspects of the museum would have benefited from being viewed in person. For instance, one aspect that I feel benefited greatly from the tour being done virtually was the videos that were displayed next to some of the exhibits. While the video screens in museums are often small and have poor audio quality, the virtual tour allows for the user to watch the videos in a separate window on their computer, which is a far better viewing experience.
This image is a screenshot from the tour that I took showing an exhibit with a button that links to an external window for viewing the video https://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/Visit/Virtual-Tour/
While this is an aspect of the museum that benefited from the virtual tour, other parts of the museum would have been better appreciated in person. One of the issues with the virtual tour is that some exhibits with small print are hard to read, as each section’s photo is taken from a set location. All in all, the virtual tour as well as the museum itself both do a very good job of teaching the visitors about the history of the Air Force and allowing the visitors to understand and feel for the men and women who served and are serving.
Overall, the design of the museum is very industrial and raw. I think that this is intentional and says alot about the philosophy of the design. Sure, there are fancy planes and spaceships that are meant to catch your eye and draw you in, the most important aspect to this museum is the stories of the men and women that served which are posted throughout. The design is what some may call bare bones because rather than trying to distract you, the designers of this museum wanted to allow the visitors to learn about the sacrifice that it takes to keep our country safe. Additionally, these stories allow for visitors to connect with the people they are reading about, as there is such a wide variety of stories that you are bound to relate to one of them. For me, reading about different decorated war heroes and seeing how one may be the son of a senator and the other a farmhand, but they both started from the same rank and worked their way up. This really hits home with my theme of economic class, as the military really works to throw away the class system based on wealth.
This is one of the exhibits that highlights the life of a member of the Air Force, Brig. Gen. William “Billy” Mitchell. (Screenshotted by me https://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/Visit/Virtual-Tour/ )
This experience gave me many things to reflect on, but the most obvious thing to me that was exemplified through the design of the museum was the stories of the men and women who fought and are fighting for our country in the U.S. Air Force. Some of the stories told in the videos and the ones written on the walls really show the treachery that our soldiers go through and how dangerous some of the things that they are asked to do are. I definitely have a renewed appreciation for those fighting for our country.
The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, both through the design of the virtual tour and the museum itself, does a great job of teaching the history of the Air Force as well as telling the stories of those who fought for it. The stories of each soldier are unique yet similar and offer a glimpse into what it is like to serve our country. In relation to my topic of economic class, this museum does a great job of showing that one’s status prior to enlisting in the military has little to do with how they are treated once entering. When you join the military, class is thrown out the window, and you have to earn your ranking through work.
An Experiential Analysis of the 1614 James Smith Monument
© Alex Theophanis 2021
On a cold, early spring day in New Hampshire following a storm, there was overhead high swell hitting the whole Northeast, I went to surf with my friend. Normally when we surf, we ignore almost everything that isn’t waves. But at this particular point-break, as we eagerly ran across the grass from the parking lot to check the waves, a tall white obelisk rose far above the horizon caught my eye. Despite how excited I was for waves, I examined the obelisk and realized it was a monument for some European dude, something that did not surprise me. I am fond of this monument because its form and function tie New England (where I live and grew up) to the ocean (where I like to spend my time). However, when analyzing the philosophy and implications of this monument, I see how monuments like these can contribute to the inequality that is present in our country.
In this park, the central focus is the granite monument for John Smith. The monument’s form was carefully designed with many things in mind to best celebrate John Smith and the Isle of Shoals. The viewers' eyes are drawn to the monument due to how it is in the center of the park and surrounded by the granite benches. The benches all point towards the monument, and it is easily the tallest thing in the park. How elements of a design utilize space and position can greatly affect its initial impact on a viewer. If the initial impact is one that is cramped, or repelling, like if the benches were in the way of the monument as one walks to it from the parking lot, then the chances of a viewer engaging with a design deeper are greatly lowered. The way this monument is organized, however, is extremely effective. The position of each element was considered in the context of potential viewers (who are usually busy or don’t care about what the monument represents, like me), who are always going to walk up to it from the parking lot, at this angle. The benches, which are also granite, are oriented in a way that welcomes and directs the viewer's eyes, then path, to the large monument they surround. From the angle of a potential viewer, the monument is the only thing that ascends past where the water meets the rocks, which directs the viewer's thoughts out to sea, which is what the monument is all about, as it represents the isle of shoals, and New England's exploration.
I believe the monument’s main idea, or its function, is to remind us of history and to celebrate New England’s roots as it was “discovered” to Europeans. The way the text on the monument is carved into the granite is aesthetically pleasing. Aside from it being very, very well done and even, it is spaced out in a consistent manner that takes absent space into account. The top bit of the obelisk has a full paragraph or a map on all 4 sides that goes into more detail, while below that, the text is larger and addresses a more general topic, like when the monument was made. The way the information is formatted makes it easy to absorb, and it adds to the function of the monument, to teach people about New England's history. A large part of New England’s history has to do with the ocean, it is how Europeans originally got here, and they relied on it for food and commerce. New England would not be New England without the ocean. A large part of the monument's function is to relate the roots of New England to the ocean. The monument accomplishes this through its location, and its form. The form and location of the monument draw the viewer’s eyes and minds out to sea, as the isle of shoals is visible from the point at which the monument lies. The monument being on a little peninsula near a harbor also adds to this function. While examining the monument, the viewer can see waves breaking on the point, the harbor inlet, the isle of shoals (on a clear day), and the vast open ocean. All of these things together are huge parts of New England's history, and the monument fulfills its function to put the viewer IN the “discovery” and development of New England.
When we dig deeper about what this monument means, the issue of imperialization arises. When America, and New England, were “discovered”, there were already people living here. My biggest issue about this monument is that it mentions nothing about native americans, other than being in a list of what Smith found in New England (that same list including rivers, forests, and animals to hunt). I think that this monument draws too much glory to Smith, and it mostly ignores the native people who already lived here and played a huge role in New England's development. This monument is part of a large problem of a lack of representation for American Indians, usually a result of many monuments being built strictly by people of European descent.
This represents a very important aspect of design philosophy in general that is very impactful on both the design, and that design's effect on viewers: who is involved in creating the design. While I do recognize and admire the monuments' form and features that connect New England to the ocean, it is important to understand how lack of incorporation of more diverse communities in a design will lead to a perpetuation of lack of representation for said communities. The lack of representation that American Indians receive, as well as their subjugation to lower economic class and less opportunities are all fundamentally connected to the nation’s roots of white supremacy.
Being financially troubled is something that I have not experienced in my life. My parents are both engineers and I had a happy childhood. My parents are putting me through college and my financial future is pretty secure. However, I recognize how unfair this is. Just because my parents were successful, I know I have a much much easier shot at having an enjoyable, free life than other people. I was taught by my parents to be humble and generous, and I hope I can help make the world a more equitable place.
Over the course of this… erm... course, I have learned that design is powerful because it can impact people in good ways and bad ways. Design can empower people, yet at the same time perpetuate stereotypes and oppression. This monument empowers people who live in New England because it reminds us of our roots and how explorers braved the seas to come and prosper in a new land. This monument, however, also perpetuates the lack of representation of American Indians in our country. It is important for designers to recognize how their designs have implications and impact, and how incorporating more diversity in their designs can make this impact positive for more people.
All images used were taken by me at Rye Harbor State Park, NH
Virtual Tour of “The Met”
© Student Designer 2021
A design should be something that is all encompassing. Something that strives for inclusion but even more importantly focuses on making sure that not one group or individual is excluded. I believe that the various components of design, form, function and philosophy that went into designing not only The Metropolitan Museum of Art but the virtual tour online called, “Making The Met,” is inherently white washed and excludes people of color. The virtual tour highlights the fact that the museum itself is racist. This is especially concerning considering the museum is nicknamed “The Met,” short for metropolitan: a region or area consisting of a wide variety of people, cultures and ideas. Being set in a big city like New York where there is a plethora of different ethnicities and nationalities, the museum does not reflect the diversity that it is surrounded by. Being a hispanic woman, I personally feel that my identity, as well as those of people of color, is being excluded by this museum and online virtual tour.
This virtual tour was filled with man slides and each slide consisted of a photo and a caption. While going through the slides of the virtual tour of the “The Met,” one of the first things I noticed while going through was the lack of diversity among artists, portrayed in artwork, and shown in photos. The majority of the tour portrayed fair skinned individuals, whether it was the artist, the artwork or just in a photo. There were only a few slides that included people of color. As a minority that comes from an ethnicity with darker skin tones, I noticed this immediately and was put off by it from the start. Continuing on through the tour, I paid less attention to the art and the history that went along with it and started just scanning each slide for some representation for people of color. Since the majority of the slide consisted of an image, it was easy to just flip through and take note of the sparsity of the slides that included people of color. Not only was the majority of artists white and portrays white individuals in their artwork but there was also a lack of information in the slides that did include people of color. Towards the end of the tour, there were a few slides on Latin and African American cultures and the caption on those slides were significantly smaller than the rest of the captions in the tour. Specifically, the one slide that portrays a quilt of African Americans in Harlem, only has one sentence of information on the slide. The lack of diversity and information pertaining to such diversity puts space between any person of color that views the tour, making them feel excluded, as I did.
Maker: Faith Riggold, https://artsandculture.google.com/exhibit/making-the-met/GQLS-pBlvVqAJQ?hl=en
Along with the form of the virtual tour and the museum, the function also plays a major role in how one experiences the tour. As I mentioned before, the tour consists of a compilation of many slides that include an image and caption that accompanies it. Each caption’s intended function is to explain the history behind each art or artifact that was presented, which helps the audience understand the significance and learn from visiting “The Met” or experiencing the virtual tour. I would only consider the picture and caption method of teaching successful, if the intended audience is white men. Since the majority of the presentation involves fair skinned individuals, it does a good job educating on those topics, however, they excluded people of color in the intended audience. Although the majority of the artwork and artists are white males, the tour did dedicate a small section to recognize women. One of those women was Louisine Havemeyer, a fighter for women’s suffrage and displayed her artwork that supported the cause at the exhibition called Masterpieces by Old and Modern Masters. As a woman in STEM where women are seen as a minority, I appreciated the recognition because oftentimes, women are overlooked in art as well. Some women were given recognition but those women were also white, excluding women of color. This followed the trend of exclusion, which again taints the experience of an individual that is not white.
Looking at the philosophy behind design, in my opinion, is one of the most important things to consider. While I was going through the online virtual tour, I kept asking myself, “Is this design universal?” The thought resonated in my head and I came to the conclusion that the design of the virtual tour is not very universal. It is online so it can reach many individuals all over the world, however there are many barriers that can hamper an individual's experience. As previously mentioned, the exclusivity of people of color makes this design not universal because it narrows the audience to white individuals. It is also not universal because you must click on the side of the screen to move through the slides which could be a problem for handicapped individuals. Also, the captions on each image is fairly small, changing the experience for someone that doesn't have the best vision. These subtleties might go unnoticed by a fairly young, educated, white individual but stick out like a sore thumb to anyone who is affected by them, thus not making the design universal. To me, they most certainly stuck out and changed the way I went through the tour, not only because of the racism but also because I struggled with reading the text from the slide myself. The limitations that make this design not universal, highlights the underlying racism that is present through this experience. Ultimately the design puts white artists as the main focus, which limits room for people of color to be in the spotlight, giving off the impression that they are not as important as white artists.
To conclude, analyzing “The Met,” has altered the way I perceive at cultural institutions. It has made me realize that I must look deeper than the surface because there are so many things to take into account when designing something. Form, function and philosophy play major roles when analyzing a design but even everything down to the font size can have an impact on an audience when designing. Design should be something that is all inclusive and universal. Since this experience of touring “The Met” excluded people of color, a minority in which I am a part of, it has helped me to recognize when a group of people is not recognized. Now, when experiencing a cultural institution I will take note if there are any groups of people excluded from the design.
Native American Exhibits: Florida Museum of Natural History
© Brendan Anthony Tuliao 2021
Going to the Florida Museum of Natural History, I was shocked and amazed at how vast it really was, in how it transitions from one part of nature to another. From moving a guest to live animal exhibits to large sweeping fossils and even to an outside butterfly garden, this museum was not short of interesting exhibits to learn from. In this museum, however, I was interested in the Native American exhibits and how these peoples are described. This interest comes from the basis that their own nationality was taken away from them, given a new name under America, and how they now currently fit under that new nationality. Seeing how the exhibits either kept or misrepresented Native American identity is important to me as coming from a different nationality myself, it is important to avoid misinformation and to continually revise these exhibits to correctly express who they are.
Within the Florida Museum of Natural History, there were many different sections of the Native American exhibits, separated by short exhibits of nature. To me, this became confusing as a guest as one moment there was information about swamps and caves and suddenly there became information about indigenous pottery and the meaning behind them. Through this choice, the feeling of Native American identity feels strongly tied to nature however, there may have been a better way to implement this as the guest constantly has to bring in new information that is unrelated to what they have just learned. A better way to do this was seen in the background of the exhibits, where the pictures and setting of the many Native American exhibits included leafy foliage, a sweeping view of the water, and/or an outdoor scene. Although done inherently, continuing this trend through the entire exhibit would have helped confuse the guest less and help with grouping information in related exhibits better. As for any culture, including my own, I would prefer it to be represented and conveyed to the guest as accurately as possible without many distractions taking away from the meaning of the content.
Chiefly Exchange, photo taken by Brendan Tuliao at the Florida Museum of Natural History, 4/17/2021
Taking a closer look at how the information within the exhibits is displayed, sometimes the spaces felt cramped or rushed the guest through the pathway which led them to miss important information. An example of this can be seen in the beneath picture as there is extensive information about the history of the Black Seminoles and the ones that are currently alive today. The pathway is very tight and in this way fails as a way to educate the guest about the history of the Black Seminoles as one has to constantly move to avoid people getting in the way or continue on to the rest of the exhibit. As I love learning about the culture and history of the nationality of myself and others, it is a shame that people may have missed this and many other exhibits because of the tight spaces and especially the need during these times to social distance. Imagining my own people’s information being constantly passed by because it is inconvenient to read shows the problem with the function of this space. It is important to learn about all the people in this country to truly appreciate one’s nationality and while learning the history of the Calusa, Seminole, and other indigenous peoples it is just as important to take a look at the stories of the Black Seminoles as well. As the exhibits are both meant to facilitate a direction a guest will walk through while simultaneously informing them information at the same time, sometimes one will overshadow the other which in this case causes a loss of information to the user.
Image of information about The Black Seminoles, photo taken by Brendan Tuliao at the Florida Museum of Natural History, 4/17/2021
Within the information that is shown in the exhibits, there are many instances where it states that the information may be wrong from biased sources or that the ones who wrote it simply do not know and it is their best guess of what it is supposed to be. An example of this can be seen in the exhibit about Calusa society where it explicitly states that the source of the information comes from the Spaniards in which they may have misinterpreted what they saw. The goal of this statement is to show that sometimes that history does not have direct and accurate answers and that it is sometimes okay to state that one does not know. This allows the Calusa to not be misrepresented in the text as much as possible from the limited information we have from them which is the goal of the exhibit. This can also prompt the guest’s curiosity into the subject as one can research into more documents describing Calusa society and gleam their own observations from different texts. From my own identity, I see this as an opportunity to learn more about different peoples as much as I want other people to learn more about Filipino culture and nationality.
Image of information about Calusa Society, photo taken by Brendan Tuliao at the Florida Museum of Natural History, 4/17/2021
Also, as the exhibit moves on forward in history, more quotes and donations come from current Native Americans which shows that the exhibit is making an effort to consult with Indigenous communities to better understand and share their stories. This can be seen from the donation of Martha Jones's clothing and beadwork which is shown on display. As the museum has the resources to do so, they are able to discuss with current Native Americans to have a more accurate description of their lives and culture today.
Now and moving on in the future, I know how to approach cultural institutions to better absorb information that is specifically designed to be relayed to me, the guest. Instead of passing by and glancing at exhibits for a few seconds, I learned now that by taking the time to read and study what is being shown to me, I can glean a lot more than I would have thought. As much as I love my own nationality and culture of being Filipino, I can show that appreciation to other peoples as well such as the indigenous peoples here in North America. Not only should I take in information from exhibits shown at cultural institutions, but it is also my duty to research more into these topics to learn more about what is not explicitly shown. From the intertwining of space and information, the design of the Museum of Natural History creates a place full of learning and curiosity.
National Women’s History Museum
© Madison Uhle 2021
I chose to take the opportunity that was provided to us through the experiential learning essay to visit a museum virtually. This option allowed me to stay safe in this uncertain time while the pandemic persists as a factor to take into precaution when making plans. The option of virtually exploring a museum also allowed me the opportunity to explore the National Women’s History Museum which is based out of Alexandria, Virginia. However, this museum is unique as it was formed in 1996 and as it is still relatively new they currently offer an online museum, educational programs, scholarship opportunities, and research opportunities. This museum plans to establish a physical museum in Washington D.C in the near future. Their mission is to tell the stories of women who have transformed our nation through a state-of-the-art online presence until they have a physical museum. I was struck by this museum in particular as their mission is to educate, inspire, empower, shape the future, and provide a complete view of the history of women in America. The topic that I explored this semester was gender and sexuality, therefore I found this museum was a very fitting choice to explore. This experience allowed me to learn even more about gender and identity throughout history, as they play such an enormous role in our daily lives as well as our nation’s history over the years. Design plays a crucial role in our ability to develop our identity as this is something many people continue to struggle with which can be seen through the exhibits in the Nation Women’s History Museum’s “Fashioning Yourself” exhibit that I chose to explore.
As I explored the online exhibit I took note of things that caught my attention that I may not have recognized if I were normally scrolling through an article or images before taking this course where I have gathered a much more in depth knowledge of design and identity in relation to gender. After viewing the images and reading about what each of them have to offer to our history as a nation I quickly realized how important materialistic things such as the clothes we wear and fashion trends are to our society over time and how great of an influence they have on our own personal identity through their design. The exhibit spoke about how women’s changing role in fashion in the eighteen hundreds led to women adding additions that were created originally as menswear to their wardrobes. These were some of the first attempts at pushing the gender norms of society and working towards a more open and accepting society that allows people to express themselves in whatever way feels comfortable instead of pushing an idea upon people. The exhibit also spoke about “dress codes” women were supposed to follow to avoid skirts that were too short or too narrow, and necks to be high enough to avoid any appearance of immodesty. This made me think about how gender stereotypes have been in place over such a long period of time, and how unfairly men have claimed a “superior” role to women, and have attempted to hold them in a position inferior to them by trying to control what we as women are able to become, what we are allowed to do or learn, and even what we should be wearing. As a society we have made such drastic improvements in regards to these issues and women have gained so many freedoms and liberties over the years, however there is still a great deal of room for continued improvement on these issues.
This is a screenshot taken of Garment Workers parading on May Day in New York by the National Women’s History Museum (1916)
A primary function of the National Women’s History Museum is to highlight the pivotal role women have played throughout history. The primary function of the specific fashion exhibit that I explored within the museum was to explain the influential role that women played in fashion throughout the years and how stereotypes and gender roles played a crucial part in the art fashion. It explains that fashion is a form of self-expression and identity rather than just clothing, and highlighted how the introduction of working and self-supporting women into fashion created a new progressive era for women. I also saw how large companies created campaigns to target teenage girls as an audience to get them interested in sewing and fashion to fit into societal norms. Another function of this exhibit was to highlight the resurgence of home sewing and fashion now including both men and women. Although the function of fashion and home sewing originally placed harsh stereotypes on women it has grown immensely to become an entire career field and is inclusive of all genders and identities breaking gender norms and pushing for a more accepting society with gender neutral designs.
This is a screenshot taken of a paper doll fashion set by Unknown Publisher- National Women’s History Museum (1942)
I believe the underlying goal of this exhibit is to highlight the growth that women as a whole have made throughout history. I was able to see examples of how women have worked to break gender barriers and enter the professional workplace, gain leadership positions, encourage sustainability, and work towards gender equality. You’re able to see how the prior norms of women belonging at home and being held below men have been crushed and how women have made great strides towards a more equal and accepting nation. Gender stereotypes of the past were highlighted in this exhibit to show how oppressive they were to the women in our society as well as anyone who didn’t align perfectly with the societal norms. This exhibit communicated how detrimental stereotypes can be to gender and identity through design. It also highlights the hardships that women have endured and celebrates the improvements they have made towards a more equal, sustainable, and accepting world through the lens of fashion in regards to gender.
This is a screenshot of a sewing class in 1885 at Kansas State University by the National Women’s History Museum (1885)
I really enjoyed exploring the “Fashioning Yourself” exhibit virtually at the National Museum of Women’s History. As a nineteen year old white woman who has grown up in America, I feel that the analysis of this exhibit was very empowering as I learned a lot about how different life was for women in the same position I am in in a different time period. The lens of my identity allowed me to feel very grateful for the history that women have created and the many achievements towards growth that they have gained over the years. I wonder how different life will look in the future for women and how many more improvements we will make as women continue to make history and strive for equality. The role that fashion has played in the growth of society through design in regards to gender and identity throughout history is present in this exhibit. It also highlights many of the societal norms that have been surpassed, and explores how we can continue to work towards a more accepting and encouraging society that allows people to feel comfortable with their identity as we still have a ways to come.
Bazar á La Carte: An Outdoor Market
© Leia Ulrich 2021
I recently decided to go to the local bazaar in Gainesville where artists and sellers promote their items. The entire market was set up along one strip of grass, with small tents and tables lining both sides. Featured at the market was artwork, records, upcycled clothing, handmade jewelry, and plants as well as other niche items. Although it is not a particularly large space, there is so much to see and I could have gone from booth to booth for hours. Even though so much of the work is one-of-a-kind, the vendors were all as fairly priced as they were manufactured. Not only was it a wonderful way to find out about local artists, but everyone there was interested in getting to know each other and building a small community of people with similar passions. The entire event was socially distanced and masks were required, but people were still able to talk and get to know each other while enjoying the upbeat music played by the DJ booth close by.
Image taken by Leia Ulrich (3 April, 2021)
By organizing the entire event in a manner where all of the displays surround you as you walk, it is easy to view every item, almost as if it were a museum. In the photo above, I saw this particular piece which caught my eye as I was walking through. I had never seen someone use moss and cacti on a vintage typewriter before, and the artist told me herself that this is a special custom creation only she makes. Interesting, innovative artwork was placed throughout the event to keep like-minded people intrigued throughout the event. Through the lens of my focus this semester, gender, this particular event was created with no focus on that whatsoever. Normally clothing is organized and separated for men and women, but there, everything was all on one rack and separated by the type of clothing (pants, shirts, etc.) instead. At first I was confused, but I appreciated how non-conforming their methods space layout were. Instead of focusing on what best fits a person’s gender, instead I was able to choose what I liked for no other reason besides me liking it.
Because the creators of this show knew their audience well, the products being advertised served a great purpose to them. For example, there was one booth selling potion-like elixirs made to have healing properties. Because this market attracts more holistic people, this product has value. The elixir was something new and exciting to customers while still fitting within their range of interests. Beyond just this one product, every booth sold products which fit the aesthetic of the type of person who would choose to visit. Fun hanging plants, interesting earrings, and eclectic t-shirts all fall into the category of the new art wave. The primary function of this particular event is to attract non-conforming youth who want to buy and sell products which you could not find at a conventional store. This ties directly back into gender because so many of the people you meet there do not create their products for anything gender specific. The functionality of just about every product marketed remains the exact same for every gender, making it a huge success in my opinion.
I believe the philosophy of this event was to create a tranquil, unique environment where both the producers and consumers felt comfortable enough to express themselves. This feeling is intangible, making it difficult to describe, but by grouping together so many creative beings in one place, it inspires others to take part in that same level of creativity. For example, there was a table where a woman could read cards. Anyone can go to a festival and try to read cards, but there needs to be an audience who is willing to take part in something that has connections that are greater than what is in front of them. If that same booth were at a state fair, it may have been seen as gimmicky. At this particular event, people align themselves with the values also held by the card reader and embrace it wholeheartedly. As someone who enjoys allowing themselves to experience things that may be out of my comfort zone, I believe that these more uncommon sellers provide so much for every single person who attends the market.
Being a person who prioritizes self-expression in their daily lives, I found this entire experience to be refreshing. In a school where there are tens of thousands of people, it can often be hard to feel like an individual, not just one in the masses. Women today face so much pressure to look and act a certain way, whether they are “trying too hard” or “act too basic.” There never seems to be any way to please everyone, because there is judgement to every action we make. Stepping into a world where that judgement is just a little quieter, and the rules around gender conformity seem to be less strict is important to note because that could be the future. Incorporating these small freedoms which art allows us to take into who we are as individuals will allow us not only to feel more unique, but more comfortable in our own bodies.
This market has a huge impact on the community which surrounds it based on its use of design. It’s offerings allow for non-conformists to come together and share their love for the uncommon, and embrace who they are as people. Working towards a society with little emphasis on gender may just be the wave of the future, and I feel this way strongly just because of the joy on every person’s face as they walked through this market without a care in the world for what was marketed to them. Every station there was for everyone, with no exclusions. I never would have thought that something like this would exist in Gainesville, a place famous for tailgates and parties, but there is so much more here than what is advertised.
Sistine Chapel: Virtual Tour
© Annie Vardanyan 2021
The Sistine Chapel, located in the Vatican Palace and built during 1473-81, is renowned for its Renaissance frescoes by master artist Michelangelo. I attended this landmark virtually through the “Vatican Museums” website which offers both still and 360-degree images. The Vatican Museums' Sistine Chapel article page introduces the Chapel stating, “The frescoes that we are contemplating here introduce us into the world of the contents of the Revelation. The truths of our faith speak to us here from all sides. From them, human genius took its inspiration, undertaking to clothe them in forms of incomparable beauty.” As stated, the subject of the paintings is entirely religious as they are meant to heighten the experience of faith in the chapel itself. While experiencing this tour, it can be said that the chapel is nothing short of overflowing with visual stimulus. Ultimately, the design of the virtual tour is formatted simply, functioning to give the viewer an overview and let the philosophy of its frescos speak for themselves.
The tour contains three components, a video montage of the chapel, an introductory article for each section of the chapel (i.e. the ceiling, north wall, south wall, etc.), and thirdly a 360-degree view of the entire room from different vantage points. Each component can be experienced in any order giving the viewer the freedom to decide how they will experience the space. Starting off, the video montage simply takes the audience through the chapel cinematically. It provides panning footage and detail shots of the walls and three-dimensional components such as the crucifix sculpture at the altar. Additionally, each section of the chapel has an article that gives an overview of the entire section, in conjunction with this, there are subsections that break down the different aspects of that section. For example, the page for the ceiling of the chapel contains an in-depth background of the ceiling itself, including historical context and details on what religious events are being depicted. Take a look at this image of the page that offers subheadings for each section of the ceiling, “Spandrels, Pendentives, Sibyls and Prophets, Central stories.” Which I marked with a red rectangle.
Figure 1. View of virtual tour website and format. Picture obtained from the Vatican Museum website. Screenshot taken April 18, 2021
When the sections are selected, the area of the ceiling that is being referred to is highlighted so the viewer gains a visual understanding of what is being discussed in relation to the entire space. The final component of the tour is the virtual 360-degree view of the space itself, which allows the viewer to gauge the dimensions of the chapel room. This feature is the most “experiential” and interactive of the three allowing the visitor to click through and take in the majesty of the art. Personally, I found the features provided in this tour helpful and satisfactory. The commentary helped in contemplating the dense visual information. I was truly able to understand the significance of the paintings in the 360 visual component which was my favorite part of the tour overall. That being said, it is clear that this tour was designed for those with typical needs, as the tour does not provide any auditory aid or additional features for those with visual impairment. Ultimately, the most beneficial aspect of the tour is that it provides even those who are at home a comprehensive look at the Sistine Chapel, free of charge, and fully convenient.
Figure 2. Snapshot of the 360 image component of the virtual tour. Picture obtained from the Vatican Museum website. Screenshot taken April 18, 2021
The function of the virtual tour is to provide an informed overview of the chapel while also providing a clear visual opportunity to take the space in. The tour works with the concept of simplicity well in letting the visual aspects of the chapel speak for themselves. The additional text information is greatly beneficial when the viewer wishes to obtain a greater understanding of the frescos themselves. Since the Sistine Chapel is a famous artistic marvel among those all over the world regardless of religious affiliation, this tour does cater to general audiences acting as a museum rather than a religious church providing educational material. The function of the Sistine chapel, however, is fundamentally an ode to the Christian Catholic faith. Incredibly, the chapel is a visualization of some of the most important events of the Bible, from the perspective of Italian master painters such as Michangelo Buonarroti and others like Pietro Perugino, Sandro Botticelli, Domenico Ghirlandaio, and Cosimo Rosselli. Along with other assistants as well. Functionally, when viewing the chapel, it is the job of the attendee (or a guide in modern instances) to see and recognize the events that are being depicted, which could be understandably difficult with or without biblical knowledge. This is especially true considering we are understanding such events through the minds of the artists that depicted them. It is obvious in its design, that the chapel is meant to provide a sense of grandiose wonderment and exaltation. The fact that is so visually dense is clearly done on purpose. In a way, it is in my opinion, a parallel to the religious concepts of the abundantly overwhelming nature of God’s creation.
This religious ode to the astounding beauty of the Christian God's creation and the acts of the bible as something incomprehensible is rather paradoxical because by creating the art of the chapel, man is attempting to comprehend what is created. Additionally, the fact that God the father, a formless, inconceivable, infinite being (in the Christian faith), is visualized as simply a human man, which is an interesting interpretation by Michaelangelo. Comparatively, in other cultures such as the Islamic faith, it is said that depictions of Allah or the Prophet Mohammad are considered a sin. (BBC) This illustrates the intriguing relationship between Christianity and its religious design in this work of art and others. Furthermore, there is skepticism of Michaelangelo's philosophies when painting the chapel. Some experts point out hidden human anatomical forms within the paintings. Such as the resemblance of a human brain surrounding the depiction of God in the “Creation of Adam”, which some believe to be Michaelangelo’s way of interpreting faith as something only within the human mind (Douglas). However, this is simply one perspective on the intentions of the artist and the Vatican Museum website itself does not mention this in the tour since it is affiliated with the religious institution of the Vatican. When interpreting such intense works of art such as the Sistine Chapel, I believe there is value in dissecting the possible perspectives of those who created it. By doing this, our society can gain a deeper understanding of art and design and why it functions the way it does.
Figure 3. Snapshot of the 360 image component of the virtual tour focus on the “Creation of Adam”. Do you see the human brain? Picture obtained from the Vatican Museum website. Screenshot taken April 18, 2021
In every design there is intention and along with that intention, there are other corresponding interpretations that lead to even further effects. The online tour of the Sistine Chapel doesn’t necessarily delve deep into various perspectives and interpretations of the space but it does, however, provide an adequate historical and religious overview for someone with general knowledge of the museum like myself. I thoroughly enjoyed this tour and what I learned from it.
BBC. “Batley school protests: The issue of depicting the Prophet Muhammad.” British Broadcasting Service, 2021, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-30813742
Fields, Douglas. “Michelangelo’s Secret Message in the Sistine Chapel: A Juxtaposition of God and the Human Brain.” Scientific American, May 27, 2010.
Vatican Museums. “Sistine Chapel.”
Mardi Gras Through the Eyes of a New Orleans Resident
© Elizabeth Wagner 2021
Being born and raised in the city of New Orleans has immersed me into a cultural sense that is hard to explain. The event of Mardi Gras is much more than tourists view the event as, and with this being my first year away from the geographic range of the festivities, I have viewed the celebration in a different light. Many of my peers in Gainesville see the event as solely a drinking marathon on Bourbon street when in reality it brings so many other aspects of culture through design to the city, not only in the weeks leading up to Fat Tuesday, but year-round.
Artistic aspects are prominent in the float designs that survey pothole filled streets in processions with bands and performing groups interspersed. The floats are altered every year to match the specific krewe’s new chosen theme, yet there is still a common basis that each parade sticks to, often by maintaining the same number of floats or the same physical structures. The celebration grabs the attention of many in the colors assigned by the King of Carnival, Rex in 1892 of purple representing justice, green representing faith, and gold representing power. There is a sense of uniformity created in the midst of the chaos of festivities through the designation of 3 specific colors that are focused on in design strategies from the separation of the sprinkles on the king cake to the font colors of float titles.
In addition to the design of the floats, there is much to dig into regarding the design of the event as an experience and tourist attraction. Mardi Gras is all inclusive, yet there is definitely a separation in the experience everyone has to reflect on of the event and how they “attend” the celebration. You may experience insane traffic and the struggle of parallel parking in travelling to the St.Charles parade route where the streetcar lines run alongside rows of porta potties. Maybe you are watching the floats pass by in the spacious areas of the suburban Metairie, surrounded by screaming children pushing through the crowds at the sight of a stuffed animal tossed by a rider. You may be riding on a float, throwing beads and various other trinkets. Or finally, as many tourists experience the festivity, on Bourbon street, walking in and out of a continuous strip of bars. The geographic location of where one celebrates plays a huge determining factor in overall experience, as I have come to note having spent every year on various streets, each providing vastly different experiences.
In elementary school, I witnessed Mardi Gras through walking krewes of people traversing the streets of the French Quarter on Fat Tuesday dressed in abstract costumes, often self designed and hand-sewn. Now, the season focuses on bringing in tourists and the coincided economic boost they provide. I have witnessed this with the move to super-krewes, a classification given to certain parade clubs that have the largest amounts of floats and riders on board. This goal of bigger and better has coincided with the economic division in the celebration. The people that work to make the floats larger are often poorer laborers who remain on the ground building a platform for the richer to ride on.
The economic tier system in Mardi Gras has become more apparent to me over time. The day I first rode on a float, I was full of excitement, but with my young age I certainly did not realize the privilege that came with the opportunity to participate in this aspect. I only rode in an inexpensive children’s parade, but the next year I begged my mother to ride in a krewe that traversed the streets on Fat Tuesday. She immediately pulled up the price sheets for those, which to my astonishment were thousands of dollars for a 2 hour ride. Being able to ride on a float is the first sort of privilege tier, but from there many more exist, with each krewe having a higher and higher price tag, the most expensive riding on the infamous Fat Tuesday.
Mardi Gras came to be in 1699 when two French explorers landed at “Pont du Mardi Gras”, near present day New Orleans. The original celebration and connotation of the event was very different from today, as many people have altered the celebration of the event. Even with all these changes, there have been many traditions that have been maintained including: the requirement of riders to wear masks, utilization of floats, presence of plastic beads worn around the neck, and most importantly the consumption of king cake.
The focus of the event though, in my opinion, has moved from the history and the intricate details of every decoration attached to the side of the float as the tractors tow them along to now, simply how large can each float. With every season, competition increases in how many tandem floats can be attached, and how many riders can jam onto each structure. The float designers work to increase this size while facing many challenges including the height of the structure in regards to low swooping electric lines or the amount of units attached while being able to turn the corner. One 50 foot oak tree, a drooping powerline, or a broken down towing tractor can completely throw off the festivities by creating something similar to a traffic jam, which is why every element of building the floats is so critical.
With 18 years spent in New Orleans, I have seen Mardi Gras from many different angles. I live outside the city which gives me the perspective of coming to and attending the event from afar, but my family also owns a business in the heart of the city, so I get the inside view all the way down to the economic effects. I definitely celebrate very differently now than how I used to, which plays into the adapting design of the event with altering age levels and desired experience.
Recently I visited Mardi Gras World, a museum that delves into the makings of floats and other key aspects of the season, and even though I have been to Mardi Gras every year since I was born, it drew my attention to the background factors in the makings of events leading up to Fat Tuesday. Normally, I enter Mardi Gras season with a naive mind, purely excited to dig through the sugary king cakes looking for the tiny plastic baby or stand on the neutral ground with my arms waving, prepared to be thrown a set of shiny beads. After visiting the museum that details the progression of Mardi Gras in combination with the sight of how the float building process is executed by laborers, I see the celebration as teired in the separation of those participating in the festivities on a float versus in the float dens manually crafting the gigantic structures.
History channel where I got my information on the landing point with the French explorers
The image under the function section
Rex parade website that uploaded the first picture of their floats lined up in the den
Shows the intricate details put into the floats and gives the view of them in the storage den facility where I go every year with my father to load his throws onto the float the day before the parade
The image below the form section is taken from the 610 stompers performance krewe’s homepage of their website. The website does not detail who took the photo or when it was taken, but there is often a camera man driving behind each krewe photographing their members and updating the website.
The 610 stompers are one of the most known performing groups that walks in nearly every Mardi Gras parade in between the float structures. They are famously known as an 100 member all-male group of “ordinary men” who have a passion for dancing and entertaining the crowds at Mardi Gras.
The Jim Crow Museum
© Wanchen Wang 2021
The Jim Crow Museum is an institution located in America. In the museum, we can see hundreds of collections presenting the history of the Jim Crow Law and the life of African Americans. The museum targeted specific people in the same race, intended to show their audience why it is necessary for Jim Crow Law should be erased from the law. The detailed description of the collections makes the museum show a detailed history and problems of a certain race, which makes it a perfect choice for my theme, which is race and nationality.
During the pandemic, I am not able to attend exhibitions or museums in person. So I chose to visit an online exhibition, which not only allowed me to get through the museum without walking, but also presented a real-enough experience for me. When I first entered the official virtual tour page, I was impressed, the design of this website is fantastic. First, it presented an overview of the whole museum, giving its visitor an idea of what they would be seeing next, and then the website zoomed into the entrance of the museum and let me choose on my own for where I want to start. The design of this page presents a satisfying experience, respecting the identity of the visitors and provides choice for them.
Captions: Screenshot of the Entrance, Taken by Wanchen Wang, 04/15/2021, https://my.matterport.com/show/?m=X9ou6MvycZU
After that, I entered a long hallway. This is the place where the history of African American is presented. In an order from old to new, the hallway described in detail about the timeline of African American. In order, the museum walks the audience by using youtube videos through the timeline, all the way from slavery in America, to the post civil rights era, and landing us with an introduction of the founder of this museum. But the journey of understanding the African American doesn’t end here. Walking into the room located at the end of a hallway, there are three books and songs published during the period when Jim Crow Law hadn’t been erased. They sit against the wall, and each of them presents one kind of stereotype toward African Americans. Next to that, we also have a detailed description of how Jim Crow Law developed during time. Deeper in the room, postcards, toys, and magazines donated by African American all over American are displayed inside the display window. Those racist artifacts are small things that represent stereotypes and prejudice on African American. In those display windows, African Americans who have great impacts, like musicians, thinkers, or politicians, are introduced to me using some two to three minutes videos.
Captions: Youtube channel of the Jim Crow Museum, Screenshot taken by Wanchen Wang, 04/15/2021, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZT_fgdJ4NYvu70ZDTSm-Jg
The rendering of this museum is very interesting, it is a good design. The museum introduced things in a bigger context, and then gradually rendered them down to those little small, showing the suffering of African Americans. The racist toy and stories all told the struggles of African American. Compared to the bigger picture of Jim Crow Law, which is cold and emotionless, the smaller artifacts contribute more to the audience’s feeling, implying the story of each individual contained in this race.
Also, I found that the museum’s design is very reasonable. First, I mentioned that the museum covered enormous amounts of subjects and topics. Every window has at least one or two documents that are available for the audience to read or hear. But I don’t really have much time to go over all of them in order. So the museum provided buttons that allowed me to switch among floor plan view, walk-in view, and 3-d view. In addition, in the floor plan view and the 3-d view, I am able to see every display in the museum, and could go straight to what I am interested in. To make things easier for me as someone’s native language is not English, the website automatically switches language from English to the default language my computer has. This is a fine detail that makes my whole museum “trip” more comfortable since it makes it easier for me to notice the function of all the little buttons located at the bottom of the page.
Captions: The Floor Plan View, Screenshot Taken by Wanchen Wang, 04/15/2021, https://my.matterport.com/show/?m=X9ou6MvycZU
After I travel through the whole museum, I found that there is only one requirement for the audience to truly enjoy the experience in this museum. The audience must be a English speaker. The museum is mono language. There are no functions that allow me to switch between languages when listening to the youtube videos or reading the documents. They are all written in English. Though the English subtitles might help when listening to the video a bit easier for me to follow. According to this evidence, their intended audiences are the citizens from English speaking countries or people who understand English. Other people with different nationality would be excluded. But other than that, I don’t think there are any requirements for the audience. The content contains rich information and most of them are explained completely. They are absolutely drizzling, in a good way. The information is easily understandable by all ages, from elementary school to grown adults. Some videos for introducing historical figures even include cute animation to make this trip fun. And the collections in the display window makes the audience be fulfilled by visual representations of interesting small things.
In conclusion, I think visiting the online exhibition of this virtual space is a good decision. And I would definitely visit a similar space. This museum taught me to think about racist signs and toys, and this information got me thinking about my own race, the Asian American groups. Now, we are facing the same kind of discrimination like the African Americans gone through. We are widely misunderstood and being hated by many other races. We should do something to let the voice of misconception and anger toward Asian American turn down and gradually disappear with time. I hope one day, in America, every race would gain the rights they should have, and truly reach equality.
© Wanchen Wang, 04/16/ 2021
The South Florida State Fair
© Julia Whisenhunt 2021
The State Florida Fair, picture taken by Julia Whisenhunt (me), January 18th 2020
The State Florida Fair is a large scale event that takes place over the span of a week, attracting a vast array of people from all across Florida to play games, eat carnival food, shop, and ride attractions. If one were to analyze this fair on a deeper level, they would realize that there are many things to learn about its identity and design. The crowds that the fair attracts, the layout of the stalls and shops, the rides that are on display- all of it has something to do with identity. It’s form is that of a fair while its function is to entertain, and the philosophy of which is to have people enjoy themselves and to make money while doing so.
Every event is geared towards a certain audience — be it an age group, gender, or generation of people. Their identity matters for the success of the event, and can be figured out by looking at the attractions and events happening within the fair. Looking around this carnival; seeing all the rides and games with children’s toys as prizes, it was clear to me that the State Florida Fair is geared towards families, specifically those with younger children. The game attendants probably depend on the children of such families to convince their parents to let them play the games and ride the rides. This fair is essentially, for lack of a better word, a trap- meaning that families with children come to the fair and often walk away with their wallets much lighter. The identity that this fair is geared towards is younger people, preferably families with children, in order to make a profit and to keep their guests entertained. Children will make their parents spend money on activities, and in addition, young couples that attend might spend more on rides such as the ferris wheel and more. The more identities that the fair appeals to, the more of a profit it makes.
The design and layout of the fair is set up so that the shops and places to buy souvenirs were all in one area, while food stalls, carnival rides, and games were all grouped in another area. This is most likely so that people could hop from one attraction to another, and so that they would instantly spot another thing to do and go and spend money on it. This form was also most likely done for the organization of the fair, as well as a way to make more money. Keeping the rides and games in one area ensures that people don’t get distracted by the shops, and will continue to buy tickets to use on attractions and food. The fair designed its setup by putting the ticket booths near the games and rides so that people spend more money, and they have easy access to the tickets if they run out.
The form, or structure of this event is one of a fair, made with a large array of stalls, games, and attractions. Its function is to entertain the people that show up, and to make money for the people who created the fair. The philosophy of this design is to create a space in which people can enjoy themselves and spend money, and for every unit to function together to make a suitable, fun fair. I believe that the fair succeeded in its form, function, and philosophy, because the layout of the fair was well organized and easy to navigate, I had a great time during my visit and thus the fair functioned correctly, and I found that the fair games, rides, stalls, and shops meshed together very well to create an enjoyable event and experience for all.
While it may not seem like fairs and carnivals have a lot to do with gender and sexuality, which was my theme for this semester, the gender and sexuality of the audience matters a lot. Fairs are geared towards being inclusive in order to attract larger crowds, so therefore it does not have anything that would limit or steer away minorities or LGBTQ+ people. The South Florida Fair has events for all people, even events geared towards specific genders. For example, the game where you use a hammer to try and ring a bell at the top of a long post is typically geared towards men; advertised as a test of strength and masculinity. In addition, some of the games there had hours where women got a free try, and then during some hours it switched to children. There was nothing specifically geared towards LGBTQ+ people, but there was certainly nothing that drove them away. This fair was designed to be welcoming of all identities and inclusive of all people, with a form that includes rides and games that embrace people of all genders and sexualities.
This fair was very inclusive of my identity when I attended this fair, and as I walked around I did not feel like I was being excluded or discriminated against in the slightest. As a gay woman, I am a member of the LGBTQ+ community, and not once did I feel like I was unwelcome. As stated before, this fair is designed to be inclusive of all genders and sexualities, and as I was walking around I felt very safe and included. I rode the ferris wheel with my friend many times, walked around, played a few games, and ate ice cream, and overall had a very enjoyable time- thus the fair served its function of entertaining the people who attended it. At the time I went, I was 16 years old, and even that part of my identity was not excluded. I was not treated like a child or looked down on, and all the workers were very friendly to me and the person I attended the fair with, who was the same age as I was. It was a wonderful, inclusive experience, and I would gladly attend the South Florida Fair with my friend another time. Its incorporation of design and identity made the fair a cohesive, well thought out experience for people of all genders and sexualities.
Gender on Fraternity Drive
© Student Designer 2021
Winding down the campus of the University of Florida and across the street from the Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, lies a road named Fraternity Dr. This particular street holds great significance to the Greek Life at the university, particularly because there are thirteen homes lining the road. However, even more concerning is the fact that undergraduate student housing, for both boys and girls, is offered on the very same road directly across from the fraternities. Society has deemed females to be the weaker gender, although that is not the slightest bit true. Yet, because of this ideal females tend to get taken advantage of much more. The issue of female safety has been increasingly important in the past decade as more and more cases of assault on females have been coming to light. As a result, in order to address the safety of the students the University of Florida has installed Blue Lights, that immediately phone the police, and SNAP transportation, a free service that acts like an Uber.
Fraternity Dr. was designed with functionality in mind. The fraternities are all lined up on the winding road, only a few feet away from one another. At the end of the road there is a giant field that can be utilized for events and sports games. On the road, there are two bus stops for boys who do not have transportation to get to and from the houses. In front of the houses, there is a massive parking lot where dorming residents and members of the fraternities park. Directly across the parking lot, is the Springs Residential Complex, where over a few hundred students reside, both boys and girls. This road was designed with practicality in mind because there are bus stops right near the dorms and the fraternities. The road is only a ten minute walk from the center of campus, and contains quite a bit of parking. Fraternity Dr. is functional and practical as the home to the fraternity houses and a dorming community; however, it is not safe.
The Springs Residential Complex targets undergraduates studying law and engineering. Incoming freshmen typically gravitate towards this particular dorming community because it is suite style, meaning that there are less people that one needs to share a bathroom with. As a current resident and a college freshman, there have been multiple instances in which I have left the dorms late at night to get food, but have been terrified by the presence of fraternity men. Oftentimes, the parking lot is littered with empty alcohol bottles and the occasional pile of vomit. Men in society can easily identify with being strong, but for a woman it is much harder. As a result of females getting identified as targets, the University of Florida installed four more new Blue Lights. The lights immediately call the police to the light to help anyone nearby. The road is less than half a mile, but still contains four Blue Lights, as the possible danger on the road has been made clear. Furthermore, the university also created a new program called SNAP (Student Nighttime Auxiliary Patrol). This is a program that acts like a free Uber. Through an app, students can request rides that are safe and helpful. SNAP buses can drop you anywhere on campus, and on Fraternity Dr. there are two stops, so that one does not have to walk a lot to their destination. Therefore, reducing the possibility of anything dangerous happening.
In the past, females have been identified as the weaker gender, in the regard that they can be more easily targeted. This identity is parallel to men who are not seen as “muscular” and “big”. Moreover, “30.1% of undergraduate women and 7.7% of undergraduate men” (Source1) have experienced sexual assault at the University of Florida in 2019. Society has established a standard that females are more easily submissive and can be controlled. However, this is quite the opposite as time has shown that females are strong and more than capable. More specifically, girls at the university got four more Blue Lights to be installed on Fraternity Dr. Society identifies females and men that do not meet society’s standards to be as weak and unable. These are the people that are targeted on Fraternity Dr. Sorority girls are often brought into the homes for parties and socials. It is there that most girls are sexually assaulted.
My own identity of being a female living in the Springs Residential Complex is seen in the university’s solution. The Blue Lights and SNAP buses have helped many feel safe. Walking in the dark can be absolutely terrifying as a young female college student, however, when there are SNAP buses passing you every few moments, it helps one feel less alone. Additionally, SNAP also helps students get from A to B at night safely, which is incredibly important, especially on a college campus.
Design and identity are two very important elements in today’s society that must be taken seriously when creating and revising. Fraternity Dr. was designed with practicality in mind, as each fraternity is within close proximity and there is a large amount of space for gatherings. The road was created to aid students in regards to lessening their walking distance around campus. On the other hand, Sorority Row is across campus and across a main road. Fraternity Dr. is elegantly designed to function for students with and without cars, students dorming, students who bus to classes, and students who walk. However, the main fault within the design is the fact that male predators are across from a dorming community in which girls may be targeted due to society’s ideals of selecting out women as prey. The University of Florida addresses this gender disparity by installing new safety features such as Blue Lights and SNAP buses. Nevertheless, the predisposed idea that girls are easy targets will most likely always be ingrained in mens’ heads, which creates a very dangerous atmosphere. With time and educating those who do not understand, society will hopefully close the gender ideal that women are inferior to men.
Blue Light; 2020; https://www.alligator.org/article/2020/01/campus-blue-lights-not-used-for-emergency-situations-often-data-shows?ct=content_open&cv=cbox_latest SNAP Bus; 2019; https://www.alligator.org/article/2019/08/snap-pretty-similar-to-uberpool-but-it-s-free
The Holocaust Museum
© Christy Zephyr 2021
This paper discusses the victims of the Holocaust and other genocides. It also tackles the perspective of how being Jewish is sometimes seen as an ethnicity.
I decided to research and learn about the Holocaust from the United states Holocaust Memorial museum website, more specifically the Orlando site. It showed me what life was like leading up to the events of the Holocaust and the aftereffects. It was interesting to look at the Holocaust through the lens of Haitian American woman and my topic of race and ethnicity. This led me to think about the Holocaust and how it is remembered today, the victims of the Holocaust, and other genocides have happened in the world.
Before I even thought about the effects of the Holocaust, I had to look at what the world looked like before and what led up to Nazi Germany. With World War One the blame of all the lives lost fell solely on Germany's shoulders, when the start of the war was from two smaller countries fighting amongst themselves. This was the first global conflict which resulted in people looking at other countries and other countries' problems for one of the first times in history outside of a country fighting for its independence. So once the blame was put on Germany's shoulders after World War One the debt they went into was crippling, and German citizens were going hungry and starving. This left a sense of resentment in the German population which Adolf Hitler latched onto to bring a rise to Nazi Germany.
One of the most interesting facts that I saw in the Holocaust virtual tour, was how other groups besides Jews were targeted: people who were LGBTQ+, BIPOC, disabled, and anyone who did not fit the ideals of the Aryan race. It made me question why most of the moralization we see about Holocaust victims are about the Jewish victims. I do acknowledge that the Jewish population is the most affected, but on a website that deals with the Holocaust and its survivors, these other groups are only mentioned at most three times. I wanted to look specifically at the BIPOC people who were killed and question whether the lack of acknowledgement is their death in history and what it has to do with the color of their skin. There are hundreds of Holocaust museums, and I have been to two of them in person. One of them is the Orlando branch of this museum that I went on a virtual tour for, and I did not see a mention of the other groups of people that died once in the museum. It makes me wonder why these stories are not being told there were between 250,000 and 500,000 Roma or also known as Gypsies killed, and 250,000 mentally or physically disabled people were killed. This does not even consider the Afro Germans that were killed but let us say that there were 100,000 black Germans killed. The total number of people outside of the Jewish population that were killed or could be around 850,000 people, do not deserve to be told.
This led me to another train of thought where I pondered about the group of white people who are Jewish and claim it as an ethnicity. There are Jewish people of different races and different ethnicities, but a lot of the time I have seen people who have certain physical features who happened to be of Jewish descent claim they got these features because they are Jewish. This is something that I do not agree with because based on the information presented on this website a lot of Jewish people that were displaced due to World War Two claim that the center or the origin where it came from is Palestine or present date Israel. If we are to look at it with that information, then these are ethnically Palestinian or Israeli it happened to be Jewish common, so these are Palestinian or Israeli features not Jewish features.
As I continued looking at the rest of the website during the virtual tour there was a page on genocides. This reminded me of the atrocity that was the Rwandan genocide, I had the fortune and pleasure to be at a presentation from a survivor of the Rwandan genocide in high school. There are no words I can express to say my shock when I see this survivor is only in her mid-30s, until later find out that this genocide happened in the 1990s. The entire presentation I kept wondering how this could happen in modern times. When I look back on it know it baffles me some of the comparisons between the Holocaust in the Rwandan genocide and their differences. Like what a Kurd in the Holocaust countries that opposed the people committing genocide did not act until it was too late. The difference there is that a whole system had been set in place to prevent mass genocide from happening in to ensure the safety of people around the world. Unlike before there was less of an excuse because UN forces and U.S. military forces waited on the borders surrounding Rwanda and did not act until a million people were killed. It makes you think that all the measures that were put into place post World War Two were not nearly as effective as intended. The story of the Rwandan genocide is not one that is widely known or looked at, I only know about it and pay attention to it because of this presentation that I had in high school. This is a mass killing that happened in the 1990s, but it is talked about so little. We talk about you know about the mass killings that happened in the Middle East in the 2000s and we knowledge the deaths that occurred in 911 and I realized that was not a genocide, but it was something that resulted in a lot of deaths. It is something that is forever talked about and forever known, but unlike the victims of the Holocaust or of 911 there are not museums spread out all over the world memorializing this tragedy that happened to the Rwandan people.
Looking at all of this with my own personal background as being a black Haitian American woman has been an interesting end title lot into why I chose race and ethnicity for my topic this semester. I wanted to see how much race and ethnicity affected everything. I wanted to see the unsung unseen people in these industries. There are a lot of black people of different ethnicities that are credited for the work they dedicated their lives to because of what they look like or where they are from. This look into the Holocaust, this investigate Judaism and Jewish people, and other genocides made me realize that even in the scope of tragedies and among the losers there are still people that win. I mourn the death of every Jewish person lost in the Holocaust, but I am angered by the fact so many others are disregarded simply because they are not a Jew.
Research from: Learn — United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (ushmm.org)
Design & Identity in Everyday Life /