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Exhibit on Prejudice is Anything But Stereotypical

University of Cincinnati design students are packing up all the city’s recent troubles related to prejudice in a large-scale, three-dimensional exhibit that packs quite a wallop. Next, they’ll send their exhibit off to venues around the city, and possibly, to locales across the country.

Date: 5/19/2004 12:00:00 AM
By: Mary Reilly
Phone: (513) 556-1824
Photos By: Provided by Jenn Richey and Kristin Cullen

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Twenty-eight University of Cincinnati seniors hope to send prejudice packing by creating a large, walk-through exhibit on prejudice that is anything but stereotypical.

The project, an ambitious mix of color-filled video, images, text, activities and teaching tools, aims to reach everyone, from school children and teens to adults that prejudice is “everyone’s story and everyone’s problem at some point,” according to project client Racelle Weiman, director of the Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education, part Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.  Once completed by the UC students, all from the College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning’s top-ranked graphic design program, it will first be exhibited at UC before traveling to other destinations.

“We hope people will forget what they think they know about prejudice.  Yes, it can be blatant, even life-threatening as in genocide.  Or, a prejudice can be very subtle, a shorthand way for the brain to make quick decisions because our brains can be very lazy,” explained Stan Brod, adjunct professor of graphic design.  “In life, people play different roles during acts of prejudice: perpetrator, victim or bystander.  At some time in life, everyone fulfills all of these roles, sometimes, without even knowing it.”

Along with Stan Brod, others helping to lead the students in the project are Kristin Cullen, assistant professor of graphic design; and Joe Bottoni, professor of graphic design, as well as Kelly Kolar and Gary Rogers, adjunct instructors of graphic design. 

Construction of the Prejudice Project display is now underway.  It  is a unified whole comprised of strong stand-alone components.  For instance, Jaleen Francois of West Chester compiled a book of portraits and moving, first-person accounts of prejudice as lived by community residents.  “Tell me a story of when prejudice affected your life.  That’s what I asked people to do.  So, the book now consists of 12 first-person essays and portraits.  Almost all the individuals are UC students and staff because UC is my community,” she explained.

Francois added that the goal of the book and the exhibit are the same:  “It’s a way for people to express, ‘This is my life.’  We’re not telling people what prejudice is.  We’re showing it.  I hope it will contain as many surprises for others as it has for me.”  One surprise in her book is the essay provided by a classmate who is a physically imposing African American male.  Said Jaleen, “I expected he would write about his experiences as an African American male.  That was a pre-judgment I made.  Instead, he wrote very movingly about his experiences as a tall, solid individual with a strong physical presence, what it’s like to know you intimidate.  He was quite honest about how that can also work to his advantage, even though he doesn’t always like that others find him intimidating.”

Another student has already created large, monthly calendars for classroom use, where each day is represented by a card in a holder roughly equal to the size of a plastic pocket protector.  On one side, each card comprises part of a poster design portraying a figure important in the history of the peace movement – Mother Theresa, Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr.  When turned over, each card also contains a vocabulary word, discussion prompt, suggested activity, image or quote meant to broaden our knowledge of other lands, cultures and languages. 

Student Jen Brenner of Hyde Park, who devised the calendar, explained, “This calendar is designed for kids in grades 4-6….At the beginning of the month, the calendar displays one large black-and-white image of a famous promoter of peace and tolerance.  The teacher is to turn over one card each day, revealing the colorful quilt of quotes, vocabulary, activities and images related to each month’s topic.”

Fellow student Leslie Houston, a resident of downtown, developed posters for high school teens expressing how often gossip, prejudice and social isolation form a toxic brew leading to serious consequences among youth, including suicide. 

The entire project – with its eight-foot-high panels and large-scale elements – debuts from 5-9 p.m., Tuesday, June 8, as part of DAAPworks, a college-wide exhibit of the best UC designs of the year.  It will  then stand at DAAP’s fifth-floor entrance from 9 a.m.-9 p.m., June 9-12 and from 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m., Sunday, June 13.  The Prejudice Project will then exhibit at UC’s Tangeman University Center June 14-July 31.  It’s possible that it will later  travel to other universities in the region.  All of these exhibits are free and open to the public.  For more information on DAAPworks, call 513-556-5465.

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