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Students create AIDS awareness posters

Graphic design class sends posters to schools, businesses, bars
December 1, 2005 - Hancock and Washington counties

In the lead-up to the vigils and discussions that take place around World AIDS Day on December 1, Hancock and Washington AIDS artistscounties are getting some promotional help from a College of the Atlantic graphic design class. As part of the work of Dru Colbert's Graphic Design Studio, the 13 students in the class created posters generating awareness of AIDS, AIDS testing and the candlelight vigil for AIDS on the Union River Bridge in Ellsworth at 6 p.m. on Dec. 1.

Working with Zack Wright, the education coordinator of Down East AIDS Network, or DEAN, the students created posters to be distributed around the region. High schools in Bar Harbor, Ellsworth and Sumner have gotten posters, as has the University of Maine at Machias. Local businesses will also have some posters as will some local bars.

Ariel Durrant posterEach location necessitated a different way of capturing eyes and minds. The school message, geared to a younger age, focused on education and acceptance, such as Ariel Durrant's quizzical Picassoesque woman with a scripted message from Martin Luther King: "Our lives begin to end when we are silent about the things that matter."

The bar message was mostly focused on AIDS testing, though for hers, Ashlesha Khadse created a take-off on a popular liquor ad. Her visual featured hand-drawn candle-like figures stacked in the shape of a liquor bottle, with Dec. 1 embedded within and the words Absolute AIDS Day written below.

In a poster to be mounted at a local business, Elias Gebrehiwot compared two growths: that of the economy and that of AIDS. Beside a large, hand-drawn, red ribbon, with an insert of hands clasping, he wrote: "Your business may have grown bigger and BIGGER over the years, so has HIV/AIDS: Know about how AIDS can be spread and get tested." Ashlesha poster

Students in this graphic design class have been working on posters for World AIDS Day for a few years now, leaving DEAN with a stack of options for posters to post around town and also hold during the annual vigil. For the students, the project is a means of making a difference while also learning how to understand the specific needs of varying audiences. Beyond that, creating posters for an outside audience means that this project had to be brought to a crisply finished stage, something that is not so commonplace in a basic design class.

For DEAN, says Wright, the posters are simply inspirational. "They're already inspiring me to get things done," he says. "I can't wait until I can put them up in town, so people will be walking downtown, looking at the COA students' artwork."

Posters by Ariel Durrant and Ashlesha Khadse

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