Visiting Artist Lori Rubeling Talks to Students about Impact Design

On Feb. 27 at 4:45 p.m., artist Lori Rubeling gave a talk in Glendening Annex on impact design education, a topic which plays a large role in her work.

The event, co-sponsored by the Art and Environmental Studies departments, covered humanistic research practices
and their applications in the real world. Impact design, according to Rubeling, takes into account every aspect of design, and seeks to find a better design based on that research. As an example, Rubeling brought up a project with past student of hers at Stevenson University, who were tasked with redesigning the logo for their department. They had to take into account not only the practicalities of a design (getting across what it is advertising, budget), but also the real feelings behind simple design choices (a hexagonal outline versus leaves). How can they make a logo that captures the essence of
their department without being too busy?

The most common use of impact design is architecture, says Rubeling. In that instance, it emphasizes the cross-disciplinary aspects of architecture, taking into account the personal, communal and global of a space or structure. She mentions how she is taken by the beauty of the St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM) campus, but is surprised by our use of wide open spaces, and wonders how the campus could be better designed using impact design practices. This requires her to look at human-based activity with open questions in mind in order to find the best design.

Impact design can also be used to solve social issues, such as the Flint water crisis. By using a thought map, Rubeling can work through the issue by identifying how people behave towards the issue, determining barriers to behavior change, promoting an action that breaks that barrier, implementing or sustaining the action that shifts behavior and normalizing that change. In short, for every issue, from building a structure in a park to solving a human rights crisis, impact design helps us consider tasks in a way that is complex, taking every possible part into consideration.

The Lori Rubeling artist talk is part of the artist residency program at SMCM, co-sponsored by the Lecture and Fine Arts Committee, and the Environmental Studies Program and the Department of Art and Art History.

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