An Ethnographic study
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Fish-bone diagramSWOT analysis
At its foundation, ethnography (from the root
ethno- or folk, and graphy meaning the writing
of) is use as a mode to understand the relation-
ship between humans and artifacts. To put it
simply, it is the participation, observation, and
reflection of life. As for the study of design, eth-
nography reveals that what people say and what
they actually do can vary significantly, and it is
thus a useful and important exploration practice.
Ethnographic research is a holistic approach that
addresses the large context of the everything and
removes the preconceived notion that activities
can be observed in isolation. It is first and fore-
most a study of what is: observation. Secondly,
it is an interaction with perspective – through
the perspective – of the individual: participation.
Finally it is a conversation that transcends tacit
knowledge on to elicit knowledge: reflection.
As an institution that not only serves its commu-
nity, but thrives off of it. Art Rise Savannah has
a critical role of becoming a cornerstone for the
local art (and beyond) community. In order to
best utilize their own strength, it is important for
Art Rise to have a clear vision of what the envi-
ronmental make-up of Savannah can inherently
foster, how the community is functioning (is it
healthy?), as well as who these people actually
are, beyond the historic façade. Whether envi-
ronmental, societal, or economical, it is import-
ant to understand how this system behaves in its
how can it help
In the fall of 2013, we had the opportunity
to work with Art Rise Savannah (ARS), a local
non-profit organization. Over a ten week course
we developed our understanding of design re-
search methodologies through observational and
participatory studies. Using Art Rise as a vehicle
for inspiration, direction, and creation, we have
passionately studied the community art base of
Savannah. We have attended local art scenes,
community days, and campaigns, as well as par-
ticipated in events, both in the creation and the
celebration of art.
We have chosen to call this project Defining
Art Im(pact), keeping the intrinsic connections
between art, its creator and its observer, within
its community and environment, we have sought
to find the hidden connections that exist within
Savannah’s established art roots.
Although our research may have ended, we feel
even more connected with not only the organi-
zation but the community as a whole. We have
gained a perspective of the life and vibrancy of
a still very young art movement that we feel can
lead this infant organization. This project is not
an end by any means, but an ongoing conversa-
tion of expression, creativity, and life.
Defining Art Im(pact) exists as a collection
of observations, personal accounts, and
direct interactions that have developed into
informed insights and conceptual sketches. This
collaborative research project was conducted
over ten weeks between five SCAD students
and members of the Art Rise Savannah non-
profit organization. At its core this project was
a means to develop design research modes
and methodologies through observation and
The initial study focused on the first level of
ethnographic methodologies, or observation.
We spent several weeks conducting primary
and secondary research. This research led
us to develop basic understanding at global,
regional, and local scales through the use of
design modes, the frameworks of innovative
design process. From these insights we moved
to more participatory roles as we engaged with
local community members by shadowing and
How can Art Rise help express concerns in
Where is Art rise’s current impact?
How does Art Rise connect to the
what is the voice of Savannah’s art
Who are the key players in Savannah’s art
This particular method is described by Vijay Kumar as, “[a map
that] uses three ways to look at innovation opportunities:
the “offerings” (products, services) with their function and
features, the “activities” people do with those offerings, and
the “cultural context” in which people use those offerings.”
This is an exercise that was conducted early in our project
base on secondary research. We used this method to deepen
our understanding of community and to create our base level
framework to draw connections between the community
members, what they do, and how they live.
UNDERSTANDING THE COMMUNITY
A systems map is a model that consists of individual elements
that each have a purpose and the connections between these
elements. In order to build off of our original Offering-activi-
ty-culture map, we constructed a basic systems map with Art
Rise as our focus. We used our observations and first-hand
experiences/ interactions to create connections based on our
outside perspective. This model grew to incorporate new con-
nections (and discrepancies) after a collaborative session with
the Art Rise director. This system began to defined the who,
what, and how these key elements and purposed connected.
UNDERSTANDING THE STRUCTURE OF ARS
Art Rise Savannah
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As to create some inspiration and allow for some creative play,
we decided to use this method to connect to the commu-
nity at an Art Rise event. These activity-based probes were
designed not to find specific data, but more to get a sense
of who the participants of Art Rise events are. The activities
were “art-based” and asked participants to draw, write, and
UNDERSTANDING THE USERS
This method not only addresses a user (or element) in a
community (or system), but that user’s relative role or activity
within the topic. As Vijay Kumar explains, “The resulting map
provides an overview of the kinds of participants to be includ-
ed in the study and how they differ in relation to one another.”
The resulting map helped us to make decisions about which
participant group to focus our efforts and define the scope of
The structure of the map defined four user groups: the prac-
titioners, the enjoyers, the propagators, and the supporters.
What we recognized that although there are various areas in
which these groups overlapped, however we chose to focus on
the practitioners and the propagators. We felt these were two
areas that could best inform Art Rise in its current infant state.
That is, by understanding the needs, wants and aspirations of
local practicing artists, as well as the aspirations of those who
generate the local art economy, we can assist Art Rise in its
goals of developing a creative sustainable economy.
UNDERSTANDING THE USERS
THEENJOYERS THE supporters
These participatory conversations became some of our most
valuable assets. It seems that as we focused our efforts on
practicing artists, developing artists, and cultivators of art, we
were beginning to understand the art community had a lot
to say. In each of our interviews, the interviewees seemed to
be so passionate about the subject of art that it left little time
for awkwardness or hesitation. So much so that during these,
there was always a topic in which the interviewee would al-
most take over the interview.
UNDERSTANDING THE USERS
Savannah is a city that is
constantly inspiring me...
The mission of Art Rise is
to increase the community
involvement and conversation
about art in Savannah
...but through these projects you
can engage the people of the city
in the process of making art....
Art can benefit the community in
bringing new ideas, or new ways
of looking at things
This method evaluates an organization’s
strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and
threats. This analysis was one of the first
diagrams that we developed individually but
was one of the only diagrams that went through
multiple iterations throughout the term. We
felt that this was important not only for our own
observations but for Art Rise as well. Because of
this, we initiated co-design sessions with the Art
What we found was that as our understanding
of Art Rise grew, we began to see certain threats
as new opportunities or certain strengths were
actually weaknesses. After several designs, one
thing became clear, Savannah has a vast network
of resources and opportunities that are readily
available to be tapped into.
WHAT IS A SWOT ANALYSIS?
Art galleries and
Presence of art
Rise of micro networks
Tapping into art
Tourist input and
students) from around
Schools cutting out art
programs from their
curriculum due to
Policies that regulate
People migrating to
The perception of “the
Not a metropolitan
Resistance to change
Art community is too
No “famous” artists
#1 There is an opportunity to extend
relationships with tourists after their visit
#1 Having more participatory art making activities
to prolong interaction between the artist and the
WHY IS THE ART
CLOSE-KNIT?FISH BONE DIAGRAM
The Fishbone diagram is a way to illustrate the
cause and effect of specific elements within a
system. For us, we had explored the notions of
Savannah’s close-knit artist community – that is,
those who make up the majority of Savannah’s
local artists, events, and participants. We
perceived a disconnect between the established
artist community and people who may be
visitors or those who are just trying to break
into the art scene. We explored this discrepancy
by addressing perception, people, ego, and
What we found were different scenarios that
could play in the artist community and there
needs to be a way to bridge the gap between
how the exclusive community sees itself and how
the outsider perceives the community. Within
this lies the opportunity of creating an entirely
new image, one that not only promotes but
values collaboration within and outside of the
WHAT IS A FISH-BONE DIAGRAM?
How people view
Value in exclusivity
Resistance to change
victims to larger (in)
How they view
Whether they feel
they are artistic
Different schools of
thought Need to develop
rapport to fit in
These businesses offer a
Lack of communication
#1 there are layers of exclusivity with
the art community
#2 sub-seclusion between art
#3 they tend to form close-knit circles due to
people’s perception of them
#4 this exclusivity gives them a sense of a
greater purpose and role in the community
HOW CAN WE MAKE
ART MARCH MORE
An experience map is an exercise that visually
identifies and organizes the encounters a user
has within a set of parameters that includes
attraction, engagement, and extension. This
type of mapping accounts for not only the users
experience during an event or with a specific
product, but what brought the user to interact in
the first place and the effectiveness of said event
We thought this was the perfect way to examine
the Art March that is head each first Friday of ev-
ery month. In doing such, we recognized that the
attraction stage of Art March is lacking in creating
innovative solutions for advertising the event.
Currently the flyer/map that they have created
has done a great job of “defining” Art March, but
does little to make the majority of people aware
of the opportunities beyond the event. Its great-
est strength is during the event, and through
interviews during the November 2013 Art March,
many of the participants stated that they would
like to bring someone to the next event. Thus, it
is imperative to define new ways of connecting to
the community beyond word of mouth.
WHAT IS AN EXPERIENCE MAP?
Publicity @ events
Word of mouth
Interaction with friends
Listen to music
activities and art
Interaction with local
artists and craftsmen
Browse indie market
at Indie market
business owners and
about art march experience
Use items purchased
Continue interaction with
Made friends with people of
Extensions of conversations
Returning customers for
businesses that participated
in Art march
Tell friends & bringing to
ART RISE BRAND
During the Art March, the ARS brand
is a sum of all the brands of the local
ARS is the interface between the local businesses and the art consumer.
ART IM(PACT)The process of learning and making art can be a
transcendent, participatory act: equally engaging
as viewing, interacting and making for multiple
users and perspectives. Transparent accessible
art opportunities and experiences empower
individuals who then proliferate its value into
something larger than art itself .
There is an opportunity for Art Rise to be an
advocate for collaboration -between people and
people, artists and people and artists and artists-
through the process of art making in order to
make a larger impact.
There is an opportunity to allow for people to get
vocal with their problems by involving them in
Make the process of art- making a more
Encourage people to converse about issues in
their community through art?
Engage people from different walks of life to get
involved in the process of making community
Encourage more artists to work together
COLLABO-art : modular art making toolkit
for communities as a tool for talking about
ART-match: social networking service
connecting like-minded artists together
enabling collaborative art. Their process is made
transparent to the public inspiring conversations
and discussions around it.
HOW MIGHT WE.....
THE PROCESS OF LEARNING AN MAKING ART IS TRANSCENDENT.
IT PROVIDES A LASTING IMPRESSION FROM THE BEGINNING OF
CHILDHOOD THROUGH ADULTHOOD.
Mom & I used to have green
- Girl at Playstreets
I was in art class making pottery
and it was the first hands on
project I ever made....
- Girl at Playstreets
ART IS A DYNAMICALLY ENGAGING EXPERIENCE FOR THE ENTIRE
FAMILY THROUGH THE PERSPECTIVE OF BOTH ADULTS AND
We have been
trying to get more
kids in...Its a good
way to engage the
community in a bit
of a different way...
getting the family
- Steven, ARS
THE PROCESS OF MAKING ART CAN BE A PARTICIPATORY ACT SO IT IS
EQUALLY ENGAGING AS VIEWING AND INTERACTING.
When you take it out in the
public, you become a part of
the process, the people of the
community become a part of
the process...they get a sense of
ownership in the community..
- Matt, seeSAW
Order a self-portrait and see the
process! its so much fun...
- tourist, Riverstreet
ARTISTS WITH THEIR ENERGY AND PASSION HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY
TO STIMULATE AND PROGRESS ART COMMUNITIES THROUGH
COLLABORATION AND COLLECTIVE ACTION.
It’s about the ability to get
together and move in the same
- Jaime, designer
...how do you support
communities to feel empowered
to make art?
- Molly, Loop it up, SAV
BY OPENING UP ART AND INVITING PEOPLE TO PARTAKE IN THE
PROCESS OF ART-MAKING, INDIVIDUALS ARE EMPOWERED. THEY
PROLIFERATE ITS VALUE GIVING BENEFIT TO THE COMMUNITY AS A
We want to empower the
individual by involving them in
making art. You dont have to be
an artist to make art.
There no such thing as a terrible
artist. Nothing is wrong. There
are no wrong answers.
- Molly, Loop it up, SAV
Creativity saves my life
Whenever I get a chance,
I’m in the studio...
I think happiness is
number one...not only
for me but also bringing
happiness to others
through my work....
ART CAN BE MORE OF AN OUTLET COMPARED TO THAT OF A JOB.
IT PROVIDES EMPOWERMENT, SELF EXPRESSION AND SOMETHING
TO RELY ON. SUCCESS CAN BE MEASURED THROUGH THE POSITIVE
IMPACT ON ONESELF AND THAT OF OTHERS.
breaking the silosArt and its dialogue should be an open inclusive
experience breaking down silos through leveraging
a fusion of ethnicities, socioeconomic classes,
perspectives, ages, cultures, etc.
Bringing these seemingly disparate parts togeth-
er held together by the fabric of the city. So there
is an opportunity of using the existing structure
of savannah as a platform.
Create a sustainable creative community?
Bring the native artifact back into the material
Native artifact project: International art
day, an open forum that creates opportunity for
cultural education and storytelling.
HOW MIGHT WE.....
ART RISE EMBRACES SCAD WHILE EQUALLY EMPOWERING THE LOCAL
COMMUNITY WITH THE GOAL OF INTEGRATING THE TWO FOR THE
BENEFIT OF THE LARGER ART COMMUNITY.
Throughout my time at SCAD, I
was involved with other things
that were going on..I was not
limited to what SCAD had to
But there are so many people in
Savannah that are not affiliated
with scad but have so much
talent...we want to push them
out there m
AS SOME ART COMMUNITIES CAN BE EXCLUSIVE AND HIGH CLASS IT IS
IMPORTANT TO CATER TO THEIR TASTES WHILE ALSO PROVIDING THE
INVITATION TO PARTAKE IN THE LARGER COMMUNITY AS A WHOLE
Art since the dawn of time has
flourished with money backers.
You know people with a lot of
money pay for art because they
can, they have the income to be
In order to get them to buy your
art you have to serve it to them
on the silver platter...they are
not going to come to you...
ART RISE HAS AN OPPORTUNITY TO CREATE AN INCLUSIVE SYSTEM
WHICH LEVERAGES THE LOCAL COMMUNITY’S ART SCENE, ETHNICITIES,
FESTIVALS AND HISTORY. THIS ENABLES ARTISTS AND THEIR WORK TO
CONNECT WITH REAL PEOPLE.
We want to create an inclusive
system for artists to make
showcase their work and for
people to view and enjoy it...
I just like to do too many
things...get my hands in all of
these things around town..
Feeding the loopArt making and its dialogue are an internal
and external process at both micro and macro
interactions. It allows for people to connect with
themselves as well as with the people and places
around them. It allows for cities to strengthen
bonds locally as well as engage with the global
community. This journey acts as a feedback loop
promoting, fostering and sustaining art and its
Opportunity to strengthen bonds internally and
externally so Savannah can be locally connected
and globally integrated.
Engage in conversations with visitors even after
they are gone?
Tap into the established network of SCAD to
create new opportunities for non-SCAD artists?
Encourage more artists to visit Savannah from
Traveling Coalition: a Savannah-based group
of representatives would travel to other events/
areas. This group would become the face of
Savannah’s art initiatives and would facilitate
outside interest and recognition .
Fine Art symposium: creating a relationship
with SCAD to hold annual “fine art” symposiums
that would attract leading industry professionals
to hold presentations, demonstrations, and
address issues within the profession. This would
have the potential to annually attract visitors.
HOW MIGHT WE.....
OUR ART MEMORIES ARE ATTACHED TO PEOPLE AND PEOPLE ARE
ATTACHED TO OUR LASTING IMPRESSIONS.
Drawing picture for mommy and
daddy. Drawing my love...
-Favorite art memory
Part 1: Making stuff with my
mom when I was little and
Part2: Doing the same stuff
with loop up Savannah @YMCA
People enjoying reading other people’s art memories...
THE EXPERIENCE OF ART AND ITS DIALOGUE CAN BECOME A PLATFORM
TO CONNECT PEOPLE ON COMMONALITIES BEYOND THE REALM OF
LIFE AND INTO EVERYDAY LIFE.
..but for me a kid coming in and
having an experience from that
is just as important...
Art is....finding ways to
connect with others that are
experiencing the same things..
A veteran speaks about a painting from war with an artist. They
connect over their common experience in Vietnam.
THE PROCESS OF ART MAKING IS AN INTERNALIZED AND EXTERNALIZED
JOURNEY INSPIRED THROUGH A CONNECTION WITH OURSELVES AND
THE PEOPLE/PLACES AROUND US.
Taking in surrounding habitat
and creating something new..
that is creative expression of
day to day life..
Its a lot of self-absorption
to be an artist..but through
public art you can engage
other people in the process...
ARTRISE IS WORKING TO INSPIRE, FOSTER AND STRENGTHEN
SAVANNAH’S LOCAL ART NETWORK WHICH POSITIONS THE CITY TO
ENGAGE IN ART AND ITS DIALOGUE WITH THE GLOBAL COMMUNITY.
THIS DIALOGUE ACTS A CONTINUOUS FEEDBACK LOOP TO FURTHER
INSPIRE THE LOCAL SCENE.
I stayed in France one
year when I was 18. The
experience has a big influence
on me and my art...
I think there is a lot of
opportunity for savannah to
make its mark as one of the
top art communities in the
country...we have this school,
so many artists, so many
opportunities and spaces that
can be transformed by art..
ARTISTS ASPIRE FOR THE MOMENTS WHERE THEY CAN SHARE THEIR
LIFE’S WORK AND THE OPPORTUNITY TO CONNECT WITH THOSE THAT
SUPPORT THEIR PASSION.
when I made a sculpture and
my professor hung it up for all
-favorite art memory
I like to surround myself with
the people that support my
Harriet hangs as much of her art on her walls as possible so she can
show her work to people visiting..
SAVANNAH AS AN
Savannah has beautifully preserved and curated
its history and culture. There is an opportunity to
seamlessly compliment the traditional and engage
the community through the incorporation of new
artistic perspectives and experiences.
Create an environment fostering the growth of
Artrise as a new, dynamic and spirited brand can
work to complement Savannah with an eco-
system of inviting artistic touch points connecting
the city and its people to the intrinsic value art
has to offer.
Use art to change negative preconceptions of
community for an open and positive outlook into
Seamlessly incorporate contemporary art into
the historical architecture of Savannah in a
beneficial and respectful manner?
Engage tourists in conversation with local artists?
Project Porthole: Online platform and physical
installations across town connecting people to
the art activities around town in real time.
GoLOCAL: Kiosks across town that curate plans
for tourists to best explore and experience the
art culture that Savannah has to offer.
HOW MIGHT WE.....
MANY LOCAL SAVANNAH ARTISTS APPRECIATE THE CITIES HISTORIC
PRESERVATION AND CULTURE, YET THEY WOULD LIKE TO SEAMLESSLY
INCORPORATE CONTEMPORARY ART INTO THE FABRIC OF THE CITY.
THESE ARTIST HAVE ONE FOOT IN THE BEAUTY OF THE PAST AND ONE
FOOT INTO THE FUTURE OF THE UNTRADITIONAL.
I think part of the issue is
that we’ve spent so long
preserving this history which
is great. We’re super proud
of that. But truth be told we
are looking in the rear view
mirror into 18whatever
...and like in Windward
district in Miami, there
are all these abandoned
warehouses, storehouse units
and properties that you can
There could be so many
opportunities for community
art for mural, sculpture and
all kinds of stuff downtown
to brighten up those areas...
but it doesnt happen because
its not the way it looked in
ARTRISE IS A NEW, DYNAMIC AND SPIRITED BRAND WORKING TO
IMPLEMENT AN ECO-SYSTEM OF INVITING AND INTERACTIVE TOUCH
POINTS TO ENGAGE COMMUNITY WITH ART AND ITS INTRINSIC VALUE.
...the idea is to start an
eco-system. Fresh gallery,
savannah art informer, art
...I want it to be a family of
products that everyone can
engage with..and branded
SAVANNAH AND ITS CONTEXT PROVIDES A UNIQUE OPPORTUNITY FOR
ARTISTS TO SHARE THEIR WORK WITH VISITING TOURISTS.
..we’ve been here for one
drinking..what else is there to
I used to come and paint here
on weekends..there are a lot
of tourists...During the week I
draw at Forsyth park...
IN ORDER TO PROMOTE POSITIVE CHANGE WITHIN COMMUNITIES,
NEGATIVE PRECONCEPTIONS MUST BE SEEN OPENLY INSPIRING
OPPORTUNITY FOR THE BETTER.
..we want people to
experience this area first
hand and see for themselves.
We are trying to change the
stereotype of this area..
..past victory there are so
many of these run down old
buildings...we just want to
ethnicities together and make
it inviting with the fact that
it is free..and that it is in an
open place..activation of
THE CLOSE-KNIT COMMUNITY OF SAVANNAH AND ITS HISTORIC
WALKABLE STREETS INSPIRE AND FOSTER THE LOCAL “SLOW ARTS
MOVEMENT” WHICH IS EMBRACED BY LOCAL ARTISTS AND THE
I enjoy visiting NY and LA but
I just couldn’t live there..I
wanted to kick-back a little
bit. Thats why I moved to
they kind of fit in with the
easy-go and mystique that
‘POP’ ARTArt interfaces and interaction can be ephemeral,
fluid and inviting. Pop up art can transparently
integrate into decentralized public spaces leaving a
The process of co-creating across boundaries
through art to enable the stories of the unheard.
This integration can exemplify the uniqueness of
place and its real people.
The opportunity to create decentralized spaces
for art making it more accessible and inclusive for
Engage the public in unexpected and
untraditional ways by creating an element of
Use art as a tool to enable unheard stories to
define and empower Savannah as a unique and
Mobile art wall: A graffiti wall on wheels for
the people by the people.
Gallery on wheels: If people wont come to
the gallery, take the gallery to them! As an artist
you can rent a space on this mobile gallery and
expand your reach beyond just a particular area
Pop up art-maker: Art activities that follow
a theme usually centered around issues in the
community. The artwork made is later displayed
in the gallery on wheels.
HOW MIGHT WE.....
ART INTERFACES AND INTERACTIONS CAN BE EPHEMERAL, FLUID, AND
INVITING TRANSPARENTLY INTEGRATING INTO DECENTRALIZED PUBLIC
SPACES LEAVING LASTING IMPRESSIONS ON THE COMMUNITY.
..I’m trying to break away
from desotorow and to utilize
the public architecture of
Savannah like Forsyth park..
we have all these amazing
public access points..
..business and tourists and
trees and bicycles and the sky
where they all meet...
..if we can attract people on
bikes that would be cool. or
have an adhoc gallery show
in a parking space..put dimes
in the parking meter and now
we own that space..
ARTRISE HAS AN OPPORTUNITY TO COLLABORATE ACROSS
BOUNDARIES ENABLING AND SHARING THE VOICE AND STORIES OF
THE UNHEARD. THESE STORIES AND EXPERIENCES CONTRIBUTE TO THE
UNIQUENESS OF SAVANNAH WHICH CAN BE LEVERAGED AS THE CITY
CONTINUES TO FIND AND VALUE ITS OWN UNIQUE IDENTITY.
...so many people are being
pushed out of these areas
because of these new
businesses. Through art
march we are trying to target
people who live in this area
to come and experience these
Public art can give a sense
of ownership to people in a
community that they havent
felt like a part of before...
LIFE’S JOURNEY IS AN ITERATIVE EXPERIENCE; TEACHING, LEARNING
AND BEING OPEN TO THE UNEXPLORED.
..So when I started out I was
going to be a biologist and
that lasted for about one
semester in college...I ended
up switching what I wanted to
with people that have come
in and out of my life through
You can find art in a lot
of unexpected places.
sometimes a car mechanic
uses some parts that he never
thought of before and makes
something functional again..
that can even be art..
Even a cook can be a good
ART AND ITS BEAUTY CAN BE DISCOVERED BEYOND TRADITIONAL
CONTEXT IN UNEXPECTED WAYS BY UNEXPECTED PEOPLE THROUGH A
VARIETY OF AVENUES AND EXPERIMENTAL PROCESSES