January 14 – 24, 2018
Gallery 720, Christensen Center
SHADES OF OUR STORIES
Megan Ellen Johnson is a Minneapolis born and raised graphic designer. Publication design and web development are her primary focuses. However, Johnson also has work experience in print and social media marketing, branding, environmental design, and gallery installation. When she works on passion projects, her love of writing and human psychology come into play. Her most recent self-initiated work is focused on story-telling, publication design, and human connection.
This exhibition consists of over one-thousand saddle-stitch booklets that are sorted into twenty colors. Of the one-thousand booklets, there are eighty individual stories. These stories were gathered through a survey that was filled out by over two-hundred undergraduate and graduate students at Augsburg University. Each story is assigned a color that is associated with an attribute that the author needs from the reader in response to their story. This process of categorizing and curating the stories was also the organizing principle for the installation itself. Viewer interaction is essential to publication design, so I ask that the viewer picks an attribute they are interested in and then finds a story, that is categorized as such, to read.
I developed this exhibition through my love of story-telling, publication design, and our innate need for human connection. With our culture’s dependency on social media and emotional affair with the internet, people are sharing more about themselves than ever before. However, I’ve found that we don’t typically speak open and honestly about our most personal memories or aspects of our lives. That is made even truer when people are asked to share in front of people we see every day, like our peers on campus. With that in mind, I decided to keep the stories completely anonymous in an attempt to get to the individual’s real-life story. Once I had gathered enough stories, I began to develop a design and grid that was strong enough to support the vastly important lives that were written about. The grid reflects the layering quality that the community of these stories creates.
My main goal for this exhibition is to help build connections between the students at Augsburg. I believe that only by relating to those we perceive as opposite of ourselves will we as a community be able to grow stronger together, despite our current political climate. I hope you take solace in how you may relate to one of these stories because it means that you have just found another connection on campus.