United Nations, City of Austin Display ACC Students’ Counterterrorism Ad Campaign

Austin — The City of Austin’s “Art in Public Places” has invited an Austin Community College class to display its United Nations Counterterrorism Poster Project at City Hall from December 7th through February 20th. A number of the posters are currently on display at the U. N. in New York until January 10th.

“I’m so pleased that our students and design instructors were able to think of a way to express their creativity in a positive manner following the attack on America,” said Dr. Richard Fonté, ACC President. “Their artwork is helping to uplift spirits and focus attention on the healing process, at the same time demonstrating their marvelous talents and the quality of instruction they are receiving at Austin Community College.”

After the terrorist attacks, Randee Fox, who teaches in ACC’s visual communications design program, decided to deviate from the planned curriculum in her illustration concepts class. She told her students to pretend the U. N. had called and asked the class to design posters on counterterrorism. For the next month, her 13 students learned about the U. N.’s charter and the international organization’s strategies to thwart terrorism.

“I was excited to learn that ten of the posters were going to be displayed at the U.N. as part of a larger exhibit,” Fox said. “The students’ reactions to developing this project were mixed. Some of the students didn’t want to ‘sugar coat’ the message and others didn’t want their message to be too strong. Each student was able to reach inside themselves and find a unique message while still supporting our ‘client,’ The United Nations.”

Jan Arnesen, The Chief of the U. N. Exhibit Section, assembled the Art Against Racism exhibit that features art collected from the U. N. Information Centers around the world. Besides racism, the artwork also reflects students’ concerns with the issues of peace and war, Arnesen said.

“The exhibit was complete, but after seeing the ACC students’ posters, I decided to include them in the display,” Arnesen said. “I was pleased with the quality and professionalism of the students’ work, which was creative and varied.”

Some of the other artwork displayed includes two “Trees of Hope” made by U. N. International School (UNIS) students with hundreds of messages of hope and peace hanging like leaves from the branches of the trees. A junior high school in Seattle, Washington made a mobile with more than a thousand hanging origami cranes fashioned from paper as a sign of peace and sympathy for the tragic events of September 11. Some of the ACC students’ posters will also be displayed until December 17th in the City Hall of Oslo, Norway, in celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the Nobel Peace Prize.

“I decided to speak to the world by trying to convince everyone to transform their hate into peace,” says Sasha St. Martin, an ACC illustration concepts student. “It’s time to forget our differences and grudges and try not to only stop horrible killings but to spread peace throughout and within, together.”

Fox says it was a challenge for her students to create posters that were not centered on The United States, but rather conveyed “a global and humanitarian message.” The students – two from Venezuela and Pakistan — engaged in lively discussions about current events and the project itself. About two weeks into the project, Fox contacted The U. N. exhibits chief to see if their imaginary client would be interested in viewing the ad campaign.

“It was a very good exercise for students to deal with a current event,” Fox says. “There was a deep commitment of working toward something more important than a grade or a portfolio piece. The project made us feel that we were doing something positive and proactive about a very frightening situation.”

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