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Fine-arts students (from left) Mathea Madsen, Nathaniel Hissong
and Lex (Alexa) Nacchia, all Class of 2021, pose with their posters focusing on public health and wellness.
Aaron Terry’s printmaking classes at the University of Delaware are where the Department of Art and Design’s
conceptually focused fine arts majors and its commercially focused
visual communications majors come together to learn how to create for a
In his own work, Terry’s interest is in the history of printmaking
and its potential as a visual and socio-political tool. The assistant
professor of art and design creates multicultural public art with a
current message, and his printmaking class at UD teaches students the
creative processes and practical skills needed for the 21st century
applications of this work.
Part of the process is finding the path to the work. Terry learned
that DelDOT/DART (the Delaware Department of Transportation and its bus
service) were partnering with UD’s Science, Technology and Advanced
Research (STAR) Campus and viewed it as a learning opportunity perfect
for his class objectives.
He set up the “Inform, Inspire, Empower!” initiative “to create and
install public poster artwork aimed at a unified dialog focused on
public health and wellness.” The goal: to enhance public pandemic
education and support cultural change, with Terry describing it as
drawing inspiration in these pandemic times from the 1940s posters of
the Works Progress Administration implemented as a practical relief
project during the Great Depression.
Terry’s 20 printmaking students were given a class assignment to
choose themes around public health and wellness and create visually
engaging, inspiring and colorfully informative posters. The students
initially presented their designs using their individual strengths in
paint, sculpture and even woodblocking to carry out their theme. Ten
posters were ultimately chosen, based on the strength of their visual
and thematic message, by a committee that included Terry as the
instructor, members of DelDOT/DART and UD Director of Economic
Development Tracy Shickel. The class went on to produce the posters in
The students were initially surprised to think that
their “young adult” perspective and input would be of interest to the
Mathea Madsen, a senior fine arts student with a focus on
printmaking, shared her thoughts: “As someone who suffers with anxiety,
being bombarded by information and infographics all the time really
opens the door for worrying you aren't well enough, aren't doing enough
or improving enough. My goal in these physical works was to create a
visual break from all that.”
Two of MaryBeth O’Hanlon’s designs were chosen. As a visual
communications major, she initially considered the project from a client
perspective, then relished the opportunity to be more open to employ
creative agency, “… to come up with a solution, but there was still a
solution we were working toward, and in giving more meaning to my work
and what I decide to create, the illustration becomes more than simply
the illustration,” she said.
And why so analog in this now-so-digital world?
DelDOT/DART and STAR realized that posters are a practical way to
communicate ideas and to shape a wide swath of public sentiment, and an
opportunity to engage an audience at their transit locations on the STAR
Campus and throughout the state.
Media and digital information can seem overwhelming and have been
shown to instill feelings of loneliness. With posters, you don’t have to
find them, they find you; no tiresome pluck and search for a URL is
necessary. Seeing that poster in real time and place has an immediate
and visceral effect, and artists and designers can provide those
These attention-grabbing, timely posters will appear all around
Delaware transit hubs and kiosks later this spring. Take a break from
that little screen in your hand and look up when you’re waiting for that
Article by Diana Milburn; photo by Aaron Terry
Published April 29, 2021
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