The process of gathering information and making for this project was intentionally rogue, laced with naiveté. It’s how my parents would have done it in 1971, when they migrated to the United States from the Philippines. They weren’t overly politicized, technically savvy, or even organized when they arrived in Chicago, but they were scrappy, hard-working, and had a network, albeit a rogue and naïve network. Their gumption, paired with their innocence, created many unorthodox means of getting by— be it sardine-type living conditions, the imaginative reuse of food and packaging, or low-fi technological mash-ups. This was present in our household throughout the years—at times it was frankly embarrassing—but it was their process and they owned it.
c/o Jolanta is a visual response to and interpretation of Peggy Terry’s 1972 poem “Hands.” The project had two parts, or versions, that were specific to the location of the Organize Your Own exhibition. The first was a 13″ x 19″ digital print for the show in Philadelphia, framed and hung. The second was for the show in Chicago and was a deconstructed 3-piece, 3-color risograph poster, which (when displayed together) measured at 17″ x 33″ (17″ x 11″, individually), and was available for take away on the gallery floor.
Not knowing a great deal about the Young Patriots when I was approached to participate in the exhibition, I used the resources I had readily available (similar to my parents), the internet, and my network. When researching the Young Patriots’ Time of the Phoenix poetry chapbooks, I gravitated towards Terry’s “Hands.” Being brutishly literal as a graphic designer, I saw how the poem could easily translate the written word into a new visual typography, through the form of sign language. Tapping friends of friends and colleagues through social media, I was able to work with an ASL (American Sign Language) instructor to proof the project.
I liken this method of making to the work of Reid Miles, the infamous Blue Note album cover designer. When first hired in 1955, Miles knew very little about jazz, nor did he care for it. Instead of investing time and energy into the genre with the hopes of gaining appreciation, he relied on colleagues like record label producer Alfred Lion to synthesize the albums to only their most necessary details or descriptions.
Dave Pabellon is a graphic designer. He constantly pursues endeavors that connect his graphic design practice with social empowerment through the studio and classroom environment. He has mentored and instructed in the non-profit sector, has taught at the university level, and lectures infrequently for professional design institutions and organizations. Pabellon is currently an Associate Professor of Graphic Design at Dominican University and formerly a designer at Faust Associates, an award-winning visual communication firm specializing in intuitively guided and collaborative design solutions that disregard convention.