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Ryan Clifford

Ryan Clifford in Greensboro Alabama

MFA, Graphic Design

Class of 2009

For four years, faculty member Ryan Clifford ’09 (Graphic Design) has been leading graphic design students on trips to rural America so they can put their social design skills to the test over spring break.

During the residency, which is aptly named Spring Blitz, students explore the town and community, visit local artists and designers, and collaborate on an ambitious design project entirely proposed and designed while students are on the ground. This past year, students traveled to Greensboro, Alabama, where they created a traditional-style mural celebrating the initiatives and projects happening on Main Street.

“One of the greatest things to come out of these residencies is the sense of community and connection that develops between the students,” Clifford said. “Additionally, students form meaningful relationships with community members, who inspire, guide, and encourage them as they conceptualize and pitch their project ideas.”

Pam Dorr, director of the Hale Empowerment & Revitalization Organization, Inc. (HERO) in Greensboro, agrees. “The community is so inspired by what the students had done,” she said, explaining how the mural energized local residents to form a group that built flower planters and a visitor kiosk downtown. “Four new shops have opened downtown, and there is so much buzz and pride in town!”

Students will once again return this March to Greensboro over spring break to work on a new community building project. Clifford said the community provides the perfect location because of the many great design initiatives in the area and because the town provides a welcoming, supportive environment.