Fresno State students showcased their graphic design skills while advocating for social justice during ArtHop in the Social Justice Poster Project (SJPP) recently.
The SJPP is organized by faculty, staff and students from Fresno State with the support of the Associated Students Inc. (ASI). The works and presentations aimed at promoting positive conversations about social infrastructure and provided an opportunity to share diverse perspectives.
“This was the first time the project included the showcase, partly due to COVID-19 restrictions last year and partly due to the growing and evolving nature of the project,” said Virginia Patterson, a Fresno State assistant professor.
Event organizers invited Patterson to collaborate in the SJPP, and this was her first year with the project.
She credited Fresno State lecturer Glenn Terpstra, assistant professor Yasmin Rodriguez and assistant professor Matt Hopson-Walker for facilitating the project, hosting gesture speakers and installing the exhibition.
Phebe Conley Gallery technician Chris Lopez, who oversees the M Street Gallery venue, was also credited for helping with the event and its installation.
In preparation for the project, three different guest speakers addressed graphic design classes for lectures or workshops via Zoom. Guest speakers included Sabiha Basrai, designer and co-owner of Design Action Collective in Oakland; Amos Kennedy, letterpress printer; and Karlo Muro, Fresno-based graphic designer and co-founder of Studio Mala.
“It’s always good to see others do what you do and, more importantly, learn from them and their own experiences,” said Nayeli Flores Mendoza, a transfer student now studying graphic design at Fresno State.
Mendoza – a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipient – focused her project on the campaign for the #HomeisHere movement for “Dreamers,” which is any adult that was brought into the U.S. illegally as a child and receives legal protection from deportation through the DACA program.
Mendoza’s project emphasized the Clean Dream Act, which she says would create a pathway to U.S. citizenship without using “young immigrants as bargaining chips to harm immigrant communities.”
She said the Clean Dream Act could open up opportunities for her and “allow a sense of certainty and stability.”
“My inspiration for this project was my community as well as the many Dreamers who, like myself, are hopeful for a better future,” Mendoza said.
Christian Garcia, a transfer student from Fresno City College with his associates degree in studio art, described his project as an expression that advocates for Mexican and Latin American immigrant rights.
“These people are human, just like everyone else, and should be treated with the same respect as you and I. I am a first-generation Mexican American and grew up hearing the many hardships my parents and grandparents faced upon their arrival to the U.S., trying to assimilate to a new culture,” Garcia said.
Alicia Benitez, a fourth-year participant, focused her project on sexual misconduct in the school and professional environment, using a mixture of elementary-style script and block letter typefaces to correlate with the visuals of the texture and the “sticker-like form,” she said.
“I think the [SJPP project] provides a space for students to create something for a social issue that is meaningful to them. You are allowed to bring awareness while being creative, and I think that is something you do not often see with more serious topics,” Benitez said.
Aside from displaying her art, Benitez, who is treasurer for Fresno State’s Graphic Design Club, tabled at the entrance to the event to sell buttons and pins to ArtHop attendees.
“I know how much my peers and I put into our work, and it was very nice to see it recognized. This event, and others like it, are something I’d definitely want to participate in again one day,” Benitez said.
Garcia agreed, calling the experience “overwhelming in a really positive way.”
“Not only getting to have my art on display, but getting to see people react to it in such a positive way, felt surreal. It’s definitely something that I would love to be a part of in the future,” he said.
Students interested in participating in the next SJPP are encouraged by Patterson to look out for information next January at socialjusticeposterproject.com, or to contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.