Education Article :: Chapter 11 :: Mythology

Mythology
The mythology study is from the advance senior level Visible Language class I conduct every fall semester. The students at this point know how to do things on their computer, but not necessarily know what to do. This particular problem involves identifying a specific myth and beginning an investigation. After they become knowledgeable in their area they must create a design to express that process. They may create a time line, diagram, or other graphic design device. They do not merely scan a photograph or illustration from their search and use this as their original work. As graphic designers they must develop their own visual language to express their ideas. They create an image for purely aesthetic reasons but always with the idea of the myth as the communication device.

The mythology project is the final series of exercises my students conduct in their senior year. These projects are based on the readings from Joseph Campbell's books and video interviews with Bill Moyers. Campbell's first book 'The Hero with a Thousand Faces' is excellent background material for the study of mythology. Campbell states: "People say that what we're all seeking is a meaning for life. I don't think that's what we're really seeking. I think that what we're seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances within our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive." ('The Power of Myth' Bill Moyers, pg. 3)These works supplemented with other research material offer the students a different approach to design from the formal studies in the sophomore year. They are encouraged to look into their heritage to discover myths not necessarily covered in the textbooks. Interesting new ideas come from their stories collected from parent or grandparents. I have had native American student discover interesting things from their culture through this project.

Project analysis
The projects can be in the form of a poster or in some cases a book format is appropriate. Each idea is expressed in its own best form. The pedagogical experience is derived from getting information from a new source, developing and expressing their ideas.

I have found that this external source of information is rich in imagery and contextual materials. The student rarely have a difficult time finding a suitable myth to explore, it is more the case of limiting the possibilities. The sharing of ideas during critique sessions is instrumental in broadening their information base. This tends to show the interrelationship of the myths being discussed.

Plato said the soul is a circle. I drew a horizontal line across the circle to represent the line of separation of the conscious and the unconscious. The dot in the center ofthe circle, below the horizontal line, represents the center from which all our energy comes. Above the horizontal line is the ego, represented as a square: that aspect of our consiousness that we identify as our center. But it's very off-center. We think this is what is running the show, but it isn't.
Joseph Campbell 'The Power of Myth'
(Doubleday; Skywalker Ranch, CA; 1988; pg. 142)

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