By Rachel Berning
Students’ artwork is raising concerns on social justice through creative posters with inspirational quotes set up in Rosenberg Library
Oakland based artist and educator Jessalyn Aaland started the class set when she was an English Language Development Teacher at Balboa High School in San Francisco. She struggled on a teacher’s budget to compensate for the aesthetic of her classroom.
Aaland was inspired by Corita Kent, a nun, artist, and educator who created posters during the ’60s. Kent’s artwork conveys messages of love and peace during the social upheavals at the time.
Aaland brought this inspiration from Kent into her classroom, by having the students build posters with meaningful messages. Her students illustrated quotes that were inspirational to them, aiming to bring color and light into her classroom.
“My classroom walls along with other classrooms and hallways throughout the school became covered in colorful prints of inspirational quotes by radical authors, artists, and activists. Each quote selected featured one or more of the values my colleagues and I hoped to help students develop in themselves. Divergent thinking, questioning, creativity, curiosity, resilience, resistance, solidarity, and a commitment to community equity and justice.” said Aaland.
Kate Connell brought this idea to City College students in Visual Media Design and other classrooms. The exhibit coordinator at Rosenberg Library, Katrina Rahn, started her first project by showcasing the posters the students had created in their classroom.
The poster exhibit was a great seed to start, 14 posters done with this amazing professional design work from City College’s students. This idea has taken over the campus by connecting the students to inspirational quotes from people who bring color into their lives.
In the exhibition area of the Rosenberg library, this particular space was tricky at first because the idea was to catch the students eye while trying to convey the meaning of the messages from the artists. The posters were difficult because they were all different pieces lying down different messages to give the students a sense of the directions.
Rahn loved the idea of students making their own posters. “When you see something that speaks to you and also the impact the posters have on the students,” said Rahn.
The students’ involvement during this project took away a lot of inspirational ideas from the instructors by providing opportunities for the students and engaging with them as well. Also, by being transforaminal hands-on and practical with our students.
There were many inspirational artists who had touching stories behind their posters. Sarah Hotchkiss was one person that was particularly inspiring. Her piece, entitled Sci-fI Sunday, shows a shiny multi-colored book, representing the sci-fi books she read which described many possible futures.
Another inspirational piece that caught Rahn’s eye was “Be a rainbow in someone’s cloud” by Kirsta Kammon. Rahn felt like it spoke to her in a way that was very touching.
“The takeaway from all of this is the collaboration that students use to make a change. It was just right Exhibit for City College and It’s calibrated with the Art language around San Francisco.” Rahn said.
The librarian created a grant for students to work on the exhibits in the near future to give the students a vision.
To this day, Aaland still gives posters out to K-12 teachers so that the classrooms are brought to life. It all just started in her own classroom.
The exhibit is located on the 3rd Floor Atrium round case, Room 518, and the 4th Floor Reference Desk, at Rosenberg Library, Ocean Campus.