The last studio.

Gilly Johnson
Jan 21, 2018 · 4 min read

January 21, 2018

This weekend we watched Randy Pausch’s lecture on Achieving your Childhood Dreams. We also sorted through all the mail art and organized it in a more comprehensive way. We read a section of Thomas L. Friedman’s “Thank You for Being Late.”

Reflecting on the mail art activity:

  • The mail art was an open ended way of thinking about some of the things I care about and believe in. While I wasn’t really looking forward to doing it, in the moment it helped me dig up some of the things I normally don’t think about everyday, like my politics, how much I care about the people around me, etc. I wasn’t really surprised by the vast range of things people created in their mail art, but some of the pieces were really moving and helped me to see some of my classmates in a better light, maybe a more illuminated light is a more appropriate way of saying that. I was pretty surprised by the number of people who said they didn’t understand having children. Of course, I don’t think kids are for everyone but I feel like one needs to understand why people have children before deciding not to have them. I thought the series of 8.5x11 pieces that looked like they were done on a typewriter were really beautifully made and thought out. It made me want to be more colorful and creative with the pieces I made. There was an incredible amount of honesty in the pieces, and it revealed a lot about people who I didn’t really know all that much about. I found a good amount of overlap between the things I talked about in my mail art and the things others explored. It also reassured me that I was a part of a really special friend group, one that I am proud to be a part of and can engage in meaningful conversations with.
  • I really loved the full class exercise with the warm ups and the puppets. I know this style of learning doesn’t really resonate with a lot of people but it’s a pretty amazing way to open yourself up in new ways, which I really care about as a designer and dancer. I’d like to do more workshops like this, but I also want a good amount of time getting to know the individual interests of people in my class. I feel like if I search hard enough I can find someone who shares similar interests to my own, or can act as a really good complement to the skills and interests that I want to explore.

My dance company had done flocking prior to the puppet workshop, but we had never tried to cross different groups in between each other and I thought that presented a really interesting challenge for an otherwise simple exercise (at least of our group of dancers).

  • I’d like to look into more physical spaces and how to use or manipulate them to get an important or interesting message across. Since I’d like to explore the installation/museum/interactive exhibit space before looking for a job I’d love to collaborate with someone who could support these passions with a skill set that could tie different things together. In terms of content I’m really open but I do care a lot about sustainability and about current gender-related social issues, so anything that helps to get those messages across or more public would be great.

Reflecting on the reading and lecture:

I thought the reading was a pretty wonderful story, one that turned into a really great learning experience for the author which I always appreciate. Someone in their mail art said they wished that they smiled at people more, that it may make a far greater impact in a person’s day than one may initially realize. I think the same goes for striking up a conversation with someone unexpected. While it might be challenging in the moment, you will almost always get something meaningful out of it, something that you might remember and hold on to for a long time.

Despite the fact that I think Randy Pausch’s lecture definitely comes from a place of privilege, I found him to be a really engaging speaker and I learned a lot about how I could explain what work I’m doing and what matters to me. He is such an amazing storyteller and has done such impressive work, it’s hard to not feel inspired by what he’s saying.

January 23, 2018

Reflecting on the reading “Designing a Future Economy”:

I thought the report was incredibly comprehensive and easy to read quickly, which I appreciate in articles or papers that deal with data. I also thought it was interesting that the UK saw a decline in designers or people graduating with design-related degrees, especially considering how lucrative of an area it is for jobs (both in the US and the UK). Their recommendations were very similar to the conclusions we drew as a class last semester when working on wicked problems: create a lifelong learning system, integrate design and other creative fields into the current curriculum, and use design methods in different sectors of society so that everyone can share a common language when talking about big and challenging issues.

While I appreciate the content of the reading, I felt like last semester we were exclusively reading things by people who read things and theorized about design; I would much rather hear about groundbreaking work that designers, and non-designers for that matter, are actually doing. What kinds of fun and innovative projects are taking place in Pittsburgh or in the greater communities? How are people intermingling with other disciplines and people to work on problems? I guess I’m curious why you guys (Kristin and Molly) decided to choose this reading out of all the readings we could have read; was it a reinforcement of the importance and applicability of studying design or is there a deeper meaning you’d like us to grasp from it?

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