RECESS! Design Studio

Portland, Oregon, 2018-2021
In collaboration with Kim Sutherland and with support from King School Museum of Contemporary Art (KSMoCA)

RECESS! Design Studio was a design class and creative agency for elementary school students, primarily based out of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School in Northeast Portland. I co-directed the project with artist and designer Kim Sutherland in partnership with KSMoCA.

Working on both small activities and large projects, RECESS! explored the practical and conceptual aspects of design as a way of making meaning. Projects included creating experimental typefaces out of popcorn and rubberbands, inventing fictitious personal future businesses to make business cards for, designing posters for KSMoCA artist lectures that were published for the school and online, and redesigning packaging for our favorite foods.

RECESS! also served as a platform to use design to explore personal and cultural narratives. In an exercise titled Home Museum, we named, branded, created and curated collections for museums in our own homes. For an exercise titled What’s Up With My Block?, we designed and drafted maps for the streets we live on, based on personal experience.

The use of the words “our,” and “we” in describing the projects above is intentional. I actively question how I relate to being a teacher. I am interested in the  possibilities for a hybridized role of the educator-artist, where my artistic practice is also my teaching practice. From that intention, I often engage in projects as an active participant, co-learning as they develop. In the case of RECESS!, I sat alongside the students, working on the same assignments. This opens an educational approach where the classroom has the possibility of becoming the studio, allowing creative processes to guide the development of a project, even when housed inside of a traditional educational institution.

Classroom photos courtesy Anke Schuettler