Tulsa Poster Presentations: Making an Impression, Poster-Style

Posted on: October 26th, 2008 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Preservation Conference in Tulsa, Oklahoma, has concluded, though staff members from around the National Trust for Historic Preservation are still sending in field reports. Priya Chhaya, program assistant for training & online services in the Center for Preservation Leadership, has one final post about the poster presentations in the Exhibit Hall .

Posters are hard. If there is anything I’ve learned about interpretation it's that how you present something is just as important as what you are presenting. In fact, in order to communicate your story and make the right hook your colors and presentation are part of what makes a visitor stop and take a second look.

As I made my initial walk through the Exhibit Hall I tended to go to presentations that “popped out” at me when I walked by. There were four in particular that made an impression -- one using faux stone, another the human presence, a third aimed for 3D visuals, and a fourth thematically designed as a 1950s pop art panel.

The St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral poster.

The St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral poster.

On his poster entitled “Connecting St. Vartan Cathedral to Aght’amar” Frank Nichols describes how “walking by St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral in New York City made [him] curious about the large stone compositions on the side of the church.” The poster is composed of a single paragraph of text and images (both renderings and photographs) of the cathedral. It’s the sort of presentation that one would usually scan and quickly glance at the photographs before walking away thinking about how interesting the subject matter was. That is until you look closer, which is when you realize that the presentation is actually mounted on Styrofoam squares (meant to look like tile) which were intended to make the viewer think about what the architects intended for the incomplete artwork when they were inspired by a 10th century chapel in Aght’amar. The left side of the presentation is gray stone while the other is painted to mimic brick and is how I ended up taking a second and then third look, appreciating the incomplete artwork with visual accenting of faux tile.

A few boards down is “Our Land/Our Lives” by Rebecca Goodwin, of the Otero County Historic Preservation Council. This poster looks at the endangered region of Purgatore River and Pinyon Canyon (a listing on the 2007 11 Most list). Here the authors ask the observer to take in the view on a personal level. Each time I look at the photographs I make a connection that leaves me thinking about visiting this beautiful vista. In creating a narrative this poster used the usual images of landscape to build out the poster. What’s different is that the framed matted photographs include wildlife and the people who live there. In addition there are quotations by T.S. Elliot and actual residents showing how important the site is to the people who lived and grew up there. Here is one such poem by Shelly Van Landingham, a fifth generation SE Coloradian:

This land is where my roots run more than a century deep
Where my branches have spread since birth
Where my leaves blossom and reach
This land is where my hope and dreams begin
Where my seeds shall fall and grow again

The Louis Sullivan Jewlers Building poster presentation.

The Louis Sullivan Jewlers Building poster presentation.

The third poster I was struck by is a proposal by Paul Coffey for the Louis Sullivan Jewlers Building in Chicago, Illinois. In the proposal he outlines his plan to rehab the building using a green roof which would then supply some of the energy to run the geothermal heat pumps. What was intriguing about his poster was its simplicity. It contains a single image of the exterior of the building behind a 3D model which had green grass (growing from the top) with a 2D mockup of the pump system below. Usually when you are limited as to space people stick to using the entire board letting pieces of their project extrude just a little beyond the two-dimensional. In this case the model helped to illustrate Paul’s ideas in a much unique manner. It intrigued me enough to pick up a packet of his information to read later. For more information on his project email him at pcoffe [at] saic [dot ]edu*

The Brutalism poster.

The Brutalism poster.

Last but not least is the poster entitled “Brutalism: Favoring the Out of Favor.” I guess the fascinating thing about this poster is the design element. Brutalism is not one of those architecture types that you see people running to save. Now that we, as preservationists, are taking a bigger look at the modern, Gretchen K. Pfaehler, director of preservation at EwingCole states “it requires meeting Brutalism’s stylistic challenges and addressing the maintenance of its simple geometric use of concrete.” What I love about the poster is that it uses the Pop Art style to get its point across which is not only eye catching but also makes me inclined to actually read a poster that is on a topic I would usually walk past. Pfaehler goes on state that “the steel, glass, and concrete details require specific solutions and presents challenges for modern facilities.” For more information on her poster you can email her at gpfaehler [at] ewingcole [dot] com.*

While these were not the only four posters that stood out of the Poster presentations, they each illustrate a way to present your ideas in a creative and exciting way. In each case I learned more then I expected and will probably end up doing some reading to learn even more.

-- Priya Chhaya

* Replace the bracketed words with the corresponding symbols, and viola! It’s a proper email address.

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