Project explores the meaning of community

Digital Media Arts major Taylor Werdel exhibits her Senior Seminar project at Anderson Center, Dogwood Coffee Bar and Groundswell through May 14.


Courtesy of Taylor Werdel

Taylor Werdel’s (pictured) Senior Seminar project is on display in Anderson Center, Dogwood Coffee Bar and Groundswell. The books will be on display through May 14. The project is a community-based narrative.

Justin Christensen, Senior Reporter

Forming a community narrative and looking at what it means to be human are several of the themes that Taylor Werdel’s (‘16) Senior Seminar project explores. To get these themes into the spotlight, Werdel has created an interactive project that requires participants to help out. The participants not only contribute to the community aspect of the project, they’re  also given a vessel to allow their voices to be heard.

Using graphic design, Werdel has created three different book covers about the human experience and placed them in three separate locations: Anderson Center, Dogwood Coffee Bar and Groundswell. Inside these book covers are blank journals, and Werdel hopes that people will find these journals and write inside them, creating a community narrative.

Werdel talked about how important the community part of this project is.

“What I wanted to accomplish was to create community,” she said. “And I wanted to defy the boundaries of what community could be.”

This motivation to bring together a community makes for a unique project, one that can give voice to a diverse, varied range of people.

Werdel mentioned that although the community aspect is very important, it’s not the only thing  she hopes to accomplish with the work.

“While this is a project that is meant to bring people together over the experiences that they can all relate to, it’s also a way of celebrating differences,” she said. “And celebrating the unique experiences and backgrounds that we’ve had and that we haven’t maybe gotten a chance to share with others.”

The interactive project has been on display for a little over two weeks now, and Werdel will keep it up until May 14, two days before the Digital Media Arts Senior Show. There, she will display the book covers with all the writing and voices penned into the originally blank journals.

The project is flexible, not forcing participants to do anything, but instead allowing them to approach the work in their own way.

Assistant Digital Media Arts Professor Josh Gumiela, who helped Werdel refine the ideas behind the book covers, trusts that her work should evoke a wide range of approaches, especially since the project involves physical instead of digital action.

“I anticipate that she will get at least slightly different responses in a physical form where somebody has to pick up a pen or a pencil and write something than they would if they were sitting in front of a computer,” he said.

Gumiela considers this physicality of the project one of its strengths.

“I like that there is a physical element to her work, and that you have to be at a specific place at a specific time,” he said.

Each of the physical environments where Werdel’s project is displayed contains a book cover with a different theme. The themes are: “What’s Your Secret?,” “What Makes a Role Model?” and “To be a human, one must experience…” These varied themes give participants different ways of expressing themselves, if they choose to take part.

Write in MeWEBJasmine Lee

Lindsay LaMoore (‘16), who has helped Werdel with trial runs of the project, believes that these themes can help participants reflect on deeper issues.

“I think the idea is just to have people think more about life in general and what it means to be human,” she said.

LaMoore also mentioned that people exploring these themes and issues is an engaging part of the project.

“I think it’s really innovative of her to have other people’s experience be the project,” she said.

Werdel’s work allows for these experiences to be gathered in one place, a place where participants can either read through other experiences or add their own. She considers the project to be successful so far.

“The resounding impact has been ‘wow’,” she said. “That there are multiple people who have chosen to participate in this community, to be a part of these pages, and I think that’s been really special.”

To view and contribute to Werdel’s Senior Seminar project, visit one of the three locations she is exhibiting: Anderson Center, Dogwood Coffee Bar or Groundswell Coffee.