Communications + Experience Designer
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The Lower 9th Ward • Complex Communications Systems

Commemorating Hurricane Katrina

Fall 2016 - Project focused on creating a narrative around the 11-year anniversary of the natural disaster. Materials created using Adobe Creative Suite, photographs of artifacts, and a printed, hand-bound book. 

 

Book: Lower Ninth Ward

Inspired and adapted from This American Life Episode 565: Lower 9 + 10. The podcast reflects on the area most affected by Hurricane Katrina. The narrators take you on a guided tour of the location, introducing you to several characters who represent different types of people and their experiences after the storm. The goal of the booklet was to understand strategy and systems to create a visual story. Using the text of the “Lower 9 & 10,” create a deliverable (print) that supports your point of view, provided data and research.

This booklet explored my developing knowledge of grid systems, type systems and color. It challenged me to push my ability further. Through type systems, I created three ways of representing the information to the viewer. Through the design of the book, I was interested in pursuing a deeper understanding and further knowledge of typographic systems. I wanted to push myself with this project to explore faster, deeper, and more thoroughly.  That semester, I had been studying grid systems with Dan Boyarski and I wanted to be able to apply that knowledge and gain a strong grasp on the voice for this project.  

My interests about Hurricane Katrina revolve around the personal and political aspects. At the time that I worked on this booklet, I felt that our country is in an unique place with the election. There has been controversy with race and diversity in a country that was founded on freedom and equal rights. I think that we will always be in a state of progress but the underlying concepts of the effects of the Hurricane could provide an insight to the different roles of the citizens of the United States.  

I had planned to go in the direction of a print piece involving old newspapers. I want to find old articles and contrast them to the personal stories of the “Lower 9th & 10th” article.  I want it to diagram the feelings and the moments of the personal stories and explain what was happening in all of those moments. The essence of my newspaper is to make the stories we read about more personal. The truth to my project comes from the articles, the research and the stories from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The artifacts play a role in my piece as a way to kind of “advertise” missing things and show the damages of the historical event. I am hoping to strike a balance between the emotional and factual through the voices of my type and the system of my piece.

In the end, I decided the booklet needed to feel more real. I created something with the essence of a magazine or a scrapbook. I produced my own post-its and carefully selected the colors of the pages and text (it is a reddish brown). The notes are handwritten to indicate a personal touch and memory as though a survivor was recalling their experience through the narrative and imagery.

 

Process + Artifacts

For this booklet, the majority of the process was digital. Download the files to view iterations of my final piece. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

 After listening to the podcast, I was intrigued by the personal stories and the loss of the people of Hurricane Katrina. As a child, I remember the hurricane hitting New Orleans and some discussion of it. There was not much coverage about the destruction at the time. It seemed that the focus on the aftermath of Katrina occurred years afterward. I remember hearing about service trips that visited Louisiana to rebuild New Orleans but I do not think I understood the full extent of the natural disaster. I wanted to study this untold side of the Hurricane and some of the politics associated with the storm’s aftermath. I focused my research on stories of the destruction, political cartoons and news stories that were released at the time of the storm. 

My research included imagery and personal stories about Katrina. The articles I found from ten years ago mention the storm and focus on the politics at the time. It seems that stories on the aftermath are about personal stories, conspiracy theories and moments when the government failed the poeple. I plan on taking this research and finding a way to present it in an effective manner that explains the devastation of the storm. 

Below are the imagery I used within my book. My book changed from being a political newspaper to being more about the imagery and photographing the artifacts. The artifacts either represent or are metaphors for the reactions and status of the characters after the event. The little notes within the book are the dialogue that juxtaposes and compliments the narrative of the survivors.