Idiom Flash Cards
Kateri Gemperlein-Schirm 💻


Grad Studio I
Turning auditory tradition into a designed system

I created this project as part of my first semester grad studio. The prompt was to create something autobiographical that could represent us in the future. I had a lot of trouble with this prompt, it made me frustrated and a little lost. 

I started designing surrealist collages, incorporating images of environmetal conservation and other politcally charged narratives. However, I didn’t really feel like that reflected myself. I love learning and experimentation, I love history, and I love language.

I decided I wanted to design a piece that combined all my interests and I quickly thought of idioms. Idioms are a primarily oral history, every language seems to have them in one form or another. They’re difficult to understand and much of the time, we don’t know why they arise or what they mean. I wanted to take this complex oral narrative and turn it into a visual system that could act as a teaching tool. I started with research, learning about various idioms and their frequency in the English language and American culture. I knew I wanted to work with photography and image collection, so I began collecting shots that reflected the stories I was reading. After collecting the images I edited them to match tone and looked for similarities. I compiled the image together, matching shapes to create a story. From here, I was thinking a lot about the medium, what could be the most effective learning tool. 

The end result is a set of 10 cards, each with two images melding into one on the front, and the idiom and a historical definition on the back. These cards are intended to act as a sort of flashcard. The fronts range in difficulty from easy to guess like, hot potato, to more advanced like, where there’s smoke there’s fire. I wanted to create piece that contextualized oral tradtion in a fun and educational way for those trying to learn more. 

Hand cut cardstock
Fall 2019
Each card measures 5.5 x 3.5 inches 
10 cards in a set

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