Kaleb Dean

Ludus et Veritas: 14/28 University Identities

This project examines the identities of 14 university athletic and academic programs, and the graphic representation of students within those programs.

I’m interested in whom these dual identities serve—and how students and athletes are represented—while questioning the use and abuse of student athletes as resources. I've experienced these institutional divisions firsthand as a student athlete, watching them culminate and crescendo at the university leaving many student athlete peers, friends, and family without a sense of identity and belonging. These unspoken disparities reflect our cultural priorities for students and athletes.

In my practice, I try to be a servant and a steward, but often hold to tightly traditional forms, so I’ve learned that I need to inject some rules or constraints that will lead to outcomes that I can’t predict. In this project I’ve attempted to juxtapose university identities visually (by comparing university letterforms), narratively (by putting sports commentary next to informative writing), informationally (by putting resources on display), and materially (through reproducible turf letterforms). I’ve also learned how to be a critic of my own work because what I think I’m doing and saying doesn’t always come across. Ludus et Veritas​ acknowledges and critiques design’s role in misframing the purpose of educational institutions and athletic programs, spotlights the social and economic implications of these two graphic identities, and attempts to connect with those affected by this identity divide.

I hope that this work will bring attention to our priorities as a nation for our students and challenge the stigma that athletics and academics are two separate functions of a university—that the two can and should coexist to give all students a sense of belonging and hope.