Transpedagogy in the Ephemeral: Design Thinking through Socially Engaged Art for Community Mobilization

The following project explores how design thinking through socially engaged art might support the development of community agency for a Jornalero community in Queens, NY that has been targeted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Confronted with impulsive changes to policy in the United States (US), the Jornalero community, also known as “Day Laborers,” have to address their most pressing problems of wage theft, unjust labor practices, and job security. At an exterior level, the Jornalero community exemplifies resiliency and buoyancy as the complexities of transnational polarities confront their humanity as immigrants in the US. Dozens of Jornaleros are active members of a nonprofit agency called, New Immigrant Community Empowerment (NICE), in Queens, NY. The agency provides advocacy that responds to the most pressing Jornalero problems.

Through this agency, l was able to practice a transdisciplinary design thesis that offers an engaged learning experience and puts design thinking into practice. With complex issues surrounding the Jornalero community, I utilize the thesis to address how design can support or facilitate a targeted Jornalero community. The initial intention of the thesis project was to introduce a problem-solving process that supports undocumented families. That didn’t happen. Instead, the project evolved into a ten-week pilot program running under the theory that design is post-colonial due to the impacts of systemic designs such as segregation and mass incarceration, in order to introduce design thinking to the community, I theorized the need to use an unconventional art form called, socially engaged art (SEA), as a way to ground and translate the process. My third theory was the practice of Ubuntu from South African cultures to support the building of community. Through the practice of these theories, the program accomplished on outcome geared towards human liberation, project proposals, and democratization of work.

This work is the capstone project of Ángel López.

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