A group of Pratt students in the School of Art recently harnessed their design skills to inform and inspire action in a series of posters they created to champion a range of social causes. Their work is on view this fall in the exhibition Posters for a Cause at the Grand Central Branch of the New York Public Library (NYPL) in Manhattan.

The show emerged from a project developed by Associate Degree Programs Visiting Instructor Deb Caponera in spring 2017 in a course titled Typographic Design IV, and was aimed at cultivating social advocacy and responsibility through creativity.

This fall, the assignment was opened up to students in other classes, including Pre-Press and Print Production, both also taught by Caponera, and Illustration, taught by Associate Degree Programs Visiting Instructor Jane Archer. The students each worked to create a poster with a compelling message to raise awareness and funds for a cause of their choice. Embracing the idea of strong messages to generate action from viewers, they addressed topics such as cyberbullying, child trafficking and child labor, and Alzheimer’s disease in their poster designs.

The power of simplicity was a key takeaway for second-year student Carista Eliani, who is studying graphic design and illustration. “I now understand that a complex design is not needed in order to convey a message. A strong picture and clear text are enough to have an impact,” she explained.

“The assignment was developed as a way to engage students with the specific skills-related objectives of the course by inspiring them to take ownership of the project. They really embraced the idea of creating strong messages to generate action from the viewer and help bring about social change,” said Caponera. “I want them to understand how powerful they can be as designers, and the responsibility that goes with it. This is very important as they acquire the skills and knowledge that will help them to succeed as graphic designers.”

The opening reception at the Grand Central Library branch on November 4 debuted the original artwork while students shared their artistic process and inspiration.

The show will be on view through January 5, 2018 on the second floor of the Grand Central Library (NYPL) in Manhattan. The library is also featuring a poster per week on social media, along with the designer’s bio and related information, for the remainder of the show. Learn more on the Grand Central Library’s Facebook page.

Participating students: Milagros Contreras, Carista Eliani, Waner (Diana) Feng, Rachel Goatley, Sebastian Gomez, Kozmo Guzman, Julia Halasz, Xavier Harrison, (Henry) Jun Hyeuk Lee, Yanyao Li, Andres Martinez, Chaitali Shridhar Pai, Clara Peres Marcos, August Scotch-Marmo, Charmie Shah, Kaleb Wise

Images: (main) Posters for a Cause partial installation view, New York Public Library (Grand Central Library); (inset) participating students at Posters for a Cause at the New York Public Library