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Tools for Green Education to be Exhibited by Visual Arts Students

Release Date: April 20, 2009

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- University at Buffalo visual-studies students will present an exhibit on how to keep the UB campus "green" and how to use "play" to address serious issues like racial stereotyping, genetic engineering and the economic crisis.

The exhibition, "Contemporary Design Issues & Designed Play," will open with a public reception in the gallery from 5-7 p.m. April 23 and will be on view Friday, Tuesday and Wednesday through April 29 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Visual Studies Gallery in the basement of the Center for the Arts on UB's North (Amherst) Campus.

It will feature art and design projects by students of Stephanie Rothenberg, assistant professor of visual studies. The students completed the work as part of two classes: the undergraduate course "Contemporary Design Issues" and the graduate studio "Designed Play."

The students worked with UB Green, the university's environmental steward office, to create a student-oriented campaign to spotlight UB's green efforts. UB Green wanted its information kiosk to be less generic and more mobile and engaging, Rothenberg says.

"The students designed what looks like a whimsical wheel of fortune whose outer circumference is marked with different environmental categories," she explains.

"When you spin it you get different factoids about UB recycling, transportation and emission-reduction activities and things you can do to keep the campus green. It is very educational, but it also draws viewers to it," she says.

Also on exhibit will be student-designed posters and a Web site that offers an online energy-saving toolkit and a contest in which the prizes are student-designed green products.

Students in the "Designed Play" class will showcase multimedia projects, public interventions and interactive games that explore a new design medium: the changing role of "play" and its impact on contemporary cultural production.

"'Play' is no longer considered a free-form childhood activity," Rothenberg says, "but is used today as a design medium to engage people in the workplace and in education and entertainment venues."

"It is also being used on a variety of platforms and technologies including 'Second Life,' 'Google Maps' and GreatOutdoors.com," she says, "to engage players in addressing sensitive issues like surveillance, bioethics, nationalization and college stereotyping.

"At this exhibit you will see a student-designed board game that addresses racial and gender stereotyping in college, a game of Monopoly whose design has been rethought to reflect the economic crisis," she says, "and a project that looks at the ethical issues involved in using genetic engineering to make the perfect baby, as promised by an imagined bioengineering company."

In her teaching and in her own work, Rothenberg uses performance, installation and digital media to create what she calls "solicitous interactions" that question the boundaries and social constructs of manufactured desires. Referencing corporate strategy, these situations merge popular forms of advertising and market research with participatory experiences involving role-playing and fantasy.

The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, a flagship institution in the State University of New York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.

Media Contact Information

Patricia Donovan
Senior Editor, Arts, Humanities, Public Health, Social Sciences
Tel: 716-645-4602
pdonovan@buffalo.edu