Graphic Design Seniors
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Danny Vanillas, Class of 2019

July 30, 2019


Relato Entrelazado renders the stories of two Latin American immigrants currently living in Maryland through narrative tapestries, data visualization, video, and audio based on interviews conducted with them. These weavings encode their experiences into intricate pattern and shape, generated by hand and computer processes, and become symbols for the intimate conversations we had. Each tapestry is a physical record of a cultural or transnational experience that has been made invisible or never shared. The project addresses dangers of immigrating, exploitation of immigrant labor, unjust surveillance, and other manifestations of the systemic oppressions that affect the Latin American community. 


The collection contains two weavings made with a computerized Jacquard loom. Each recorded interview is transcribed to text, converted into binary code, and then used to design a series of weaving structures, which are fed into the loom and produce the seemingly chaotic pattern of the textile. Each glyph from the written transcripts of my hour-long interviews is encoded in sets of eight horizontal interlocking threads, and each thread is woven line by line, left to right and top to bottom just like Western writing composition. Handwoven with hand-dyed yarns, these tapestries reference the wonderful colors found in the textiles from my interviewees’ home countries. Each color represents a part of the immigrant experience. 


Indigenous Latin American artists recognize the communicative and connective power of fiber arts. The communal process of spinning yarns, hand dyeing, and weaving is an opportunity for bonding, and was also once meant to record information about crops and land. My process of weaving these tapestries drew from this tradition of community building and record keeping, and I apply it to the current U.S. immigration crisis in the context of the digital age. I hope that they represent healing for my interviewees and their communities, and that our conversations gave them space both to reflect on their experiences and represent themselves.


There is a lot of pressure to make a portfolio worthy degree project so that you can land that job you want. Don’t let this stop you from experimenting or pursuing an interdisciplinary approach to design. Your degree project is really a launching point, it’s not the end all. You have the rest of your career to make amazing work!

Read new material, collaborate and talk with others that are not graphic designers, and maybe take some studio courses outside of the GD department.

Scrutinize your professor's work. Be curious, ask them questions and take advantage of all they have to offer. They are some of the best resources you will have in college.