Course Description

What role should artists and designers play in affecting change in society?

How can artists and designers impact their communities? This course will require you to think more broadly and learn to identify your assets beyond your skill set as an artist or designer. As a class we will draw on the resources of each contributing student in order to demonstrate the interdependence of all disciplines to fully address the needs of a culture. Through an introduction to social practice methodology used by artists and designers, you will be asked to reflect and critique these methods, while developing a collaborative project.

We are partnered with the Health Department of Cincinnati and the lead poisoning prevention project Operation Paydirt, to explore how art and design can be utilized to address and impact issues of lead contamination in Cincinnati.

Operation Paydirt 

A project by artist Mel Chin, "inviting children, families and communities to imagine, express and actualize a future free of childhood lead poisoning."

Students are challenged to explore how art and design can be used to bring awareness of the issue of lead poisoning to Cincinnati. As a class we will identify criteria and you will use this as a starting point in developing your projects. Our class is partnering with the Operation Paydirt team at the beginning of what will be at least a year-long effort ignite a local conversation about lead pollution, creating projects to discover solutions, together. AIGA Cincinnati members will be available to work with you as mentors as you develop your project(s). You will be challenged to dig deep and identify strengths and assets to shape a project that reflects the interests, concerns and passions of your group.


Operation Paydirt invites everyone to participate in the Fundred Dollar Bill Project – a creative campaign to envision and actualize a future free of childhood lead poisoning. Although lead poisoning is 100% preventable, it still puts millions of children at risk for lifelong brain damage and other health issues. Draw a Fundred and your voice will join millions of others nationwide contributing to the solution. Learn more at

About Mel Chin: "Mel Chin is known for the broad range of approaches in his art, including works that require multi-disciplinary, collaborative teamwork, and often become a platform for valuing the creative involvement of others. Operation Paydirt is his most ambitious contribution to this evolving practice of social change. Chin’s work has exhibited extensively in the U.S. and is the recipient of numerous national and international awards, including honorary doctorates. A retrospective of his work opened at the New Orleans Museum of Art in February 2014."