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College of Arts and Sciences Newsroom

Right Here … Wright-Dunbar

This June, 40 street banners created by University of Dayton graphic design major Jeremy Rosen will be installed in Dayton’s Wright-Dunbar Business District to raise awareness about the area and attract visitors to its historical sites.

Rosen’s work was selected from among 21 proposals by students in two senior-level graphic design courses taught by Department of Art and Design associate professor Jayne Matlack Whitaker and lecturer Kathy Weil Kargl.

The students each created design concepts for the neighborhood rebranding effort and presented them to Wright-Dunbar Inc., the nonprofit organization that manages the district. Four finalists were shared with the Wright-Dunbar board of trustees, which chose Rosen’s presentation, titled “Right Here … Wright-Dunbar.”

Rosen, a senior from Dayton, is pleased his work will be displayed in his hometown.

“I think it does add something that it is in the place where I am from and currently still living,” he said. “I can say to people: ‘Oh, yeah. I did that. Go look at that.’”

The banners are intended to enhance the West Dayton community that is home to the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Park and the Dayton Region’s Walk of Fame. The project also prepared students for client presentations after graduation.

“A lot of people don’t get that experience,” said finalist Emma Kaufman, a senior graphic design major from Louisville, Kentucky. “But I really do feel that next year I’ll be able to navigate my way through working in a real career with real clients, and already have the experience to know how to deal with different situations in a professional way.”

The finalists also included seniors Annie Brinkman from Chicago and Merani Cosme from San Juan, Puerto Rico, both of whom are graphic design majors.

Best known as the home of poet Paul Laurence Dunbar and aviation pioneers Orville and Wilbur Wright, the Wright-Dunbar district developed as a Dayton streetcar suburb during the 19th century and was annexed by the city in 1869.

The area emerged as a cultural and commercial center for Dayton’s African-American community in the wake of World War I. However, the district began to decline during the 1960s because of building demolition for the construction of both I-75 and U.S. Route 35, along with race-related disturbances in 1966.

As a class, the students visited the neighborhood, which has been undergoing a revitalization since 2014 in collaboration with CityWide Development Corp.

“It was a really fun day,” Kaufman said. “We walked around to get a feel for the atmosphere and then we made our designs based on what we thought could help other people feel the way we felt.”

Taking inspiration from the district’s history, architecture and typography, the students worked digitally or with traditional drawing and painting tools to develop ideas for a series of banners and related environmental design displays.

Rosen said the biggest challenge was working within a color palette selected by Wright-Dunbar Inc. to reflect the historic aspect of the district.

“It was probably the first setting where we were working in that realistic way, instead of just pulling color schemes from arbitrary sources like the Internet,” he said. “If it’s an actual client with a project proposal, you are given these parameters that you have to work within.”

The students presented digital mockups of their designs, but were required to prepare their work for actual production, in case it was selected by the client.

“Understanding the mechanics of how things need to be prepared to go to print and be produced was a learning part of this, too,” Whitaker said.

Two full-sized banners from each finalist were produced for the University’s annual Bro. Joseph W. Stander Symposium and Horvath Exhibition on April 24.

Wright-Dunbar Inc. will install the banners on light posts on West Third Street from Edwin C. Moses Boulevard to Broadway. Two vacant buildings also will be wrapped using the same designs.

“We were impressed by all the proposals given by the UD graphic design students — so much, in fact, that it made it very hard to choose,” said Erica Hubler, Wright-Dunbar Inc. director of real estate and property management. “The students were all very professional and, based on their proposals, listened closely when we met with them as their client.

“The City of Dayton was so impressed with the final project we chose, they will be wrapping one of their buildings in Wright-Dunbar with the same design.”

- Dave Larsen, communication coordinator, College of Arts and Sciences

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