In Department of Art, Department of Design, Experiential Learning

BYU design and art students worked with Volunteers of America to serve homeless youth in Salt Lake City

Functional posters for the clothing drive

It’s the time of year that service comes to the forefront with people ringing bells at grocery stores for the Salvation Army and initiatives such as #LightTheWorld. This semester, design and art students had the unique opportunity to work collaboratively on a project to support homeless youth in Salt Lake City.   

The initiative involved four different projects to help raise money for the youth through participation with the Volunteers of America (VOA). The first phase of the project was a print event in November, which students sold limited edition prints.

Graphic design student Abby DeWitt worked on the print collective portion of the project and said, “We worked with artists Brian Kershisnik and Gary Ernest Smith, who donated the prints, and a group of six design students worked on the screen-printing. We recreated the prints the artists donated to do a limited edition run of 250. This was an awesome experience because a lot of designers were able to learn the screen-printing process. Then we were able to package, distribute and figure out how to sell a lot of these prints.”

The limited-edition prints were sold on a first come first serve basis. Prints started off at one dollar and increased in price to 500 dollars, and all proceeds from the event were gifted to VOA.

The Corner pop-up shop in the HFAC

The second step of the project was a clothing drive. Students in this portion of the project designed t-shirts and bags that would double as the posters for the project. Design students who worked on the project said, “We decided we wanted a very physical, eye-catching quality to our posters, and decided to print out type directly onto real t-shirts. As for the bags, we wanted to have a takeaway to our donations boxes that encourages people to bring the bags back with donations. We figured it would make the most sense to make the bags our flier.”

“Clothing donations the VOA normally get are clothes that teenagers would never want to wear,” DeWitt said. “We wanted to do something to help get clothes that these teenagers would want to wear by advertising in BYU and many other places.”

Students also found ways to use their work to raise money for the youth in a pop-up shop created by BYU students in the Harris Fine Arts Center. “The Corner was named to represent the intersection between us and our neighbors at the Youth Resource Center (YRC). Both the YRC and The Corner Shop act as temporary spaces built to provide resources and opportunity for homeless teens in Salt Lake City,” design students said. Design and art students used their artistic talents to create products that people walking by would want.

BYU students also focused their efforts on working one-on-one with the youth in Salt Lake. BYU students worked in small groups to share their artistic abilities, mentor youth in the design process and give them something they could keep and use. The students sketched designs with the youth to transfer onto rubber blocks, then carved their blocks so their mentees could add ink to them and transfer the prints to t-shirts, bags or handkerchiefs.

“We wanted to do a fundraiser event that was more than just asking people for money,” DeWitt said. “We really wanted to give the people something unique, and since Salt Lake is such an artsy community, we wanted to appeal to that whole group. I feel like the design program is geared to promote service which is really nice because you don’t always get to see that in professional settings.”

Photos courtesy of Alyssa Lyman and the BYU Department of Design

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