"This is not just a regular trip to Africa, you don't see alot of people doing things like this Its a chance for students to do something really unusual that's really important, we're not going because its a "nice trip", we want to help and learn. I don't see why anyone wouldn't want to support students going out there to do that."
Durreshahwar Smith, 16
Black To Our Roots
For the youth of Baltimore City, it's all about an experience. It's a search for a cultural identity and unity. They want to travel, not to permanently relocate. Many of them don't know where in Africa their ancestors are actually from. They simply want to discover themselves, to learn the traditions, learn from the people, to experience and connect with the land of their ancestors. They want to start their own movements, to push for their right for better schools, a better education, and better neighborhoods. A trip to Africa just might help them create their own mini-revolution here in Baltimore City.
For the poster designs I wanted to channel the urban-esque feel of Baltimore City by taking their portraits in black and white. I wanted to keep the treatment similar to documentary street photography. I posed each youth to face the camera so their face could be completely visible. The closely cropped portraits engage the viewer to truly experience the teens' expressions and might invite the viewer to learn more. I interviewed the teens, and after hearing their stories, I knew I wanted them to be an integral part of my design material. Their faces and aspirations paint a more vivid picture than a heavily typographic poster.
Final Format: Digital Prints
20in x 30in
Visual Research and Experimentation
After the exhibition I wanted to continue examining the role of the organization and what it means for the teens and the commuinty. I continued to explore ways of bringing the message outside the traditional exhibition space. What could happen if the posters were altered to live on everyday common spaces and street corners? What interactions could take place? And how would this transform the organization's message?