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The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Wichita State graphic design students collaborate with Bosnian institution

Graphic design students from Wichita State University collaborated with students from The Academy of Fine Arts in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, to forge connections through storytelling. The “Wichita/Sarajevo Connecting Stories” exhibit was displayed at the Clayton Staples Gallery in the McKnight Art Center.

Overseas, the cards were displayed in the same way, but the academy took it a step further and entered both Sarajevo and WSU students into the Sarajevo Winter Festival, an international culture festival, where the playing cards will be on display for attendees to see. The festival takes place from Feb. 7 to March 21.

The goal of the project was to “expand world views through play and research,” something Irma Puškarević, assistant professor of graphic design, says is important.

“You become a better contributor to the world,” Puškarević, who is Bosnian-born, said. “It sounds lame, I know. But if we stay within our own silos, tunnel vision becomes part of our daily routine, and then we kind of end up maybe oversimplifying things or excluding things or labeling things without knowing what they are and so on and so on.

The opportunity presented itself when Puškarević visited her hometown of Sarajevo and spoke at a design festival put on by students of the Academy of Fine Arts. Puškarević and Dalida Karić-Hadžiahmetović, a professor in Bosnia, came up with the idea of having their students connect and learn more about one another’s culture.

This project gave the students freedom to research and pick what they thought was the best representation of Kansas and Sarajevo, leading some to use elements like a beloved local business as the basis of their card deck.

“We told students that they should select something like a historical event or a historical person,” Puškarević said. “Anything that they themselves perceived to be in some way representing Kansas and Wichita and then kind of developing the concept of a story from that research “

The idea for playing cards came from Karić-Hadžiahmetović, who enjoys playing card games with friends. A game-like display fit the interaction they wanted among students, and the project fit into the curriculum of  WSU’s fourth-year class.

“You would still have to develop a concept that can tie all those four cards together, which you usually have to do if you’re in an advertising agency,” Puškarević said. “They need to put out things that have a cohesive structure/concept behind them.”

At the completion of the project, the students joined a Zoom video call where they presented their designs and gave each other feedback.

“I was appreciative of the experience for the students to see how somebody else would kind of take the initiative to design something,” Puškarević said. “Right now, we’re in our classroom, and you’re just kind of thinking about stuff here, and you’re kind of here, right? But then all of a sudden, somebody else comes from the other side of the ocean, and they’re like, ‘Hey, look what we have that can be done in that way too.’”

The decks were printed in decks of tangible playing cards but were displayed as posters in the Ulrich to make it easier for viewers to see.

A brochure or catalog of the gallery is in the works to be showcased with all students’ work and stories. The brochure would briefly describe their work and why they think it represented their country in some way.

“Graphic design comes with a huge responsibility,” Puskarevic said. “It’s a way of communication with the visual means, so unless you understand where you’re communicating, it’s not about technique or style, It’s not about aesthetics and things looking pretty beautiful, they have weight.”

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About the Contributor
Jennifer Anima
Jennifer Anima, Reporter
Jennifer Anima is a first-year reporter for The Sunflower. Before joining staff, she served as editor-in-chief at the Butler Lantern, the student newspaper for Butler Community College. Anima uses she/her pronouns.

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