New School Signs

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School, Portland, Oregon, 2021

The first iteration of the New School Signs project took place in the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School in Northeast Portland. I took a tour of the school with a group of students, and we made note of every sign that we saw. These included signs for exits and the principal's office, historical dedication placards, and signs with behavioral expectations for students. We talked about what we saw as we walked around, and how the signs related to the student’s experiences of the school. During the tour, students began to tell stories about things they had seen in the school. They asked questions about particular locations, and took issue with signs they viewed as misleading or incorrect. We returned to the classroom-studio, where students sketched ideas out for signs that would more accurately represent their experiences of the school. Based on their sketches, I designed a set of cohesive wayfinding signs and had them fabricated by a sign making company. We installed them in the school, with the intention of allowing the student’s perspectives to take on authority within the school community.
Thank you to Kim Sutherland and KSMoCA for their support on the project.

Student-guided school tour to document existing signs

Kids’ Lounge Yay! by Naomi

Don’t Use For Target Practice by Miles

Silent Game Zone by Sincere

Anonymous Note Place by Joanna