Graphic Design Graduate Uses Art to Inspire Social Change

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Millena Cecilia Santos Albuquerque ’22C sees art as a force for change.

The 21-year-old from Harrison, NJ, thinks she found a calling during her four years in the graphic design program at St. John’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Now blessed with a Bachelor of Fine Arts and a body of public works, Ms Albuquerque looks forward to a meaningful future as an artist/lawyer in the line of Banksy, Paula Champagne and Deva Pardue. His website features examples of his work as a photographer and graphic designer.

“I strongly believe in art as a force that brings people together,” Ms. Albuquerque said. “If there was a theme to my time in St. John’s, it would be maturity. It leaves me nostalgic when I think of the person I was when I arrived, but confident and elated when I think of the person I’m becoming.

Ms. Albuquerque said St. John’s fine arts community is a small but enthusiastic group, eager to use artistic creativity as a form of social currency to challenge power structures rather than simply describe them.

Take Ms. Albuquerque’s work with Freedom Agenda, for example. A project of the Urban Justice Center, Freedom Agenda works with communities affected by incarceration. He believes in defending the rights of incarcerated people, reforming sentencing systems, and redistributing resources to individuals and communities affected by the criminal justice system.

“Working with Freedom Agenda has shown me the importance of standing up for the rights of those who have been silenced and perpetually marginalized,” Ms. Albuquerque said. A member of the LGBTQIA+ community while in college, she interned at the Queer Design Club, a global network and safe space for LGBTQIA+ artists, designing social media assets to build the company’s brand. organization.

Ms. Albuquerque was so good that online creative network Bēhance featured several of their designs for an e-zine that showcases the work of LGBTQIA+ artists. Ms. Albuquerque’s project, called Tender, has garnered nearly 11,000 views and 1,100 likes.

“I have made it my personal mission to use my platform to amplify the voices and works of the LGBTQIA+ community,” she said.

While in St. John’s, Ms. Albuquerque also interned at The Shark Group, the marketing and consulting firm of Shark Tank star Daymond John. Shark Group encourages creativity, which it values.

“They taught me different things, but they both changed my life,” Ms Albuquerque said. “At The Shark Group, I learned a lot about working in a corporate structure and how to be faster and more versatile as a designer. Queer Design Club showed me how to use design as a tool for change, a tool that I can use to help people in my own community.

Ms. Albuquerque’s next stop is Manhattan’s Public Theater, founded by legendary Broadway producer Joe Papp 60 years ago as one of the nation’s first nonprofit theaters. She has been working there as a part-time graphic designer for several months and is now in transition to a full-time position.

Although she works full time, Ms. Albuquerque has no plans to slow down her community aid commitments. “I plan to continue to learn and grow as well as continue my community organizing and mutual aid efforts across New York City,” she pledged. “These years in St. John’s taught me that my voice matters.

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