Activism and design go hand in hand for Alicia Arnold
For Alicia Arnold, graphic design is about something bigger: shedding light on social-justice issues at home and abroad.
Through a bold and comprehensive multimedia package, “Exodus,” the University of Missouri–St. Louis senior’s thesis project, explores the personal fears and hard facts behind refugee crises occurring around the world.
In order to engender widespread compassion and reach the largest audience possible, Arnold used a combination of social media, website building, flyer design and even book-binding to share her message.
“I wanted people to engage with the project, get more knowledge and take an honest look at where they stand,” Arnold said. “If they stand against refugee immigration for unfounded reasons, this project might help them see past their fears. My goal wasn’t to argue but to present the information that’s out there in a compelling way. And maybe if it works, someone might take away a different insight into the topic.”
Arnold’s creativity, courage and willingness to broach difficult subjects recently earned her a semifinalist placement in the Social Impact category of the Adobe Design Achievement Awards. The international competition is for art students who excel in using the Adobe suite of tools for conceptual design.
“It’s really cool to be recognized,” said Arnold, “but I’m more of the type who likes to help others move forward than soak up the spotlight.”
Arnold began pursuing positive social impact in high school as part of the YMCA Leaders Club. She would later get her first taste of traveling for a cause through Casas Por Cristo, a faith-based program where volunteers build houses in Juarez, Mexico.
This history of social consciousness prepared her to act during a study-abroad opportunity with UMSL last summer when she learned of the hotly debated influx of refugees in Germany. What she witnessed while in Europe reflected thoughts and feelings she had encountered on American soil when questions arose of how Syrian refugees might affect the country.
“I heard a lot more about the refugee crisis in Europe, and there were even informative advertisements and newspaper articles,” Arnold said. “When I came back to the U.S., I saw that no one was really talking about it, and there were a lot of negative connotations about it. I figured it was important that people get the information about this and understand how violence and war forced the refugees out of their homes in the first place.”
As a kid, Arnold had always possessed a knack for art, whether it be painting landscapes, writing song lyrics or playing the piano. With guidance from peers and faculty in the UMSL fine arts program, she has been able to shape her talents into hard skills.
“The art professors are amazing. They put a lot of time and effort into the program,” Arnold said. “You get to know everybody in the art building by name, so there’s that kind of community feel. And Gretchen [Schisla] was definitely amazing with helping us figure out job situations afterwards.”
Currently, Arnold has an internship at 2e Creative where she is further showcasing her diverse skill set for a variety of clients. While chasing her artistic ambitions and meeting deadlines, Arnold confesses that coffee has become a big part of her creative process.
And if coffee doesn’t kick-start inspiration immediately, Arnold always has a backup plan.
“If I’m really stressed out, I find a tub of chocolate icing can keep me going,” she said.
Short URL: https://blogs.umsl.edu/news/?p=63063