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OMA&D 50th Anniversary Exhibition

Submitted on April 2, 2018 - 3:55pm


May 1 – June 13, 2018
Allen Library North


The University of Washington Office of Minority Affairs & Diversity was born in May 1968 after members of the Black Student Union and their supporters occupied the office of UW President Charles Odegaard. OMA&D has evolved over the years and is happy to honor this sgnificant 50th anniversary milestone in 2018. Read a history of OMA&D in Columns magazine.

Exhibition Design

OMA&D approached Studio Matthews, led by Associate Professor Kristine Matthews, to design an exhibition that would celebrate their milestone anniversary. Matthews wanted to integrate this project into her winter quarter class for seniors (DESIGN 467, Exhibition & Installation Design) because it would allow the students to take part in a real-world project that would be completed and on view before they graduated. The historical display team leads — Jeanette James, Leilani Lewis, and Patrick Osby — agreed and were excited about the prospect of involving UW students in the work, as current students will be a target audience they particularly want to inspire with the 50th anniversary celebrations.

The start of the project in class was a visit by James, Lewis, and Emile Pitre, a founding member of the UW Black Student Union and key participant in the iconic 1968 events that will be featured in the exhibition. Pitre spoke directly and honestly to the students about the events of fifty years ago. He was clearly an inspiration for their design concepts. At the same time, the students were given a timeline and set of historic and current photos detailing the evolution of the OMA&D.

Working in teams of three or four, the Design students developed concepts through January with input from the Studio Matthews team (Matt Cole, Ian Campbell, Nicole Fischetti). The students had to address some of the very real restrictions of the Allen Library space, for example: everything had to be freestanding, nothing could hang from the walls or ceiling, and nothing could be adhered to the floor.

At the end of January, all teams presented their final concepts to a group from OMA&D, which included James, Lewis, Pitre, and Rickey Hall, Vice President for Minority Affairs & Diversity. The OMA&D staff were inspired to see the range of concepts and impressed by the student work. "We love all of them!", they said, and they had a difficult time choosing any one concept to develop.

Matthews then worked with the designers at Studio Matthews to carefully review the different concepts and consider how some of the best ideas could be pulled together into a workable and functional exhibition that could also be built for the fabrication budget. One team — Christen Miyasato, Monica Niehaus, Angela Piccolo, and Samantha Spaeth — had cleverly batched the exhibition content into broad themes that tied to the five demands made during the 1968 occupation of the UW president's office. Their concept was named Tearing Down & Building Up. This was the main inspiration for the current design, which follows the same approach, but Studio Matthews has made the structures more dimensional and layered. This gives them more interest and also allows them to stand up on their own.

The Studio Matthews team continues to work closely with Lewis on curating the content and has been designing all of the individual parts and pieces, getting ready for fabrication. The final artwork will be released in early April. Be sure to stop by the Allen Library to see the completed exhibition and learn more about OMA&D's proud history.

Historical Display Committee

The team that conceived of the exhibition and contributed to its content brought together OMA&D staff, UW Libraries staff, and community experts.

  • John Bolcer
  • Brian Carter
  • Jeanette James
  • Leilani Lewis
  • Lisa Oberg
  • Patrick Osby
  • Emile Pitre
  • Antoinette Wills