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Forgotten Nation: Senior Exhibition 2024

“Forgotten Nation,” Tanesha Spencer’s ’24 (Communication Design) senior exhibition project at the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD), is a guerrilla marketing campaign intended to bring awareness to the 5,712 missing and murdered Indigenous women in the United States.

For Spencer, the project is vitally important and close to home—and understandably, a challenging topic to research. Spencer, who is Menominee and Oneida, hopes the project will bring more awareness to the thousands of missing Indigenous women and ultimately, help her own and others’ tribes.

“Forgotten Nation” will be on display at MIAD’s Senior Exhibition, April 19 – May 11, 2024.

“Unfortunately, I live this every day,” says Spencer. “Researching and everything just brought more knowledge.” Spencer says taking breaks from researching to focus on the design was vital. Not wishing to use images of actual missing women for a school project, Spencer based her images on photos of her family members.

Reflecting on growing up Native, Spencer continues, “Hearing everyone talk about it with the reservation so close, there were a lot of times when it was just sad because of how they talked about what happened to the tribe. You push through it and at a younger age, you ignore a lot of it. Now I really do stick up for myself and spread awareness for the reservation.”

Spencer chose to design a guerrilla marketing campaign for her thesis because of its quick, effective, arresting style. “It grabs a lot of attention quickly,” she says. “That’s why I stuck with this rigid look, because this is guerrilla marketing. Potentially, this is going to be projected on a big building somewhere, and it’s definitely not supposed to be there.”

Although she is majoring in Communication Design, Spencer is glad to have a minor in Illustration. “They go hand in hand,” she says. Spencer originally planned to major in Illustration, but decided to switch to Communication Design because she found she enjoyed it more. In particular, Communication Design classes like Infographics and Sports Branding stood out as especially interesting during her college career.

“I don’t think AI will ever take over MIAD,” Spencer continues as she considers MIAD’s 50th anniversary. “I think MIAD is going to be top tier because we’re always going to be evolving. We already do a really good job with that, learning new programs. Always evolving to all the new stuff coming out.”

Keep up with Tanesha on her website and learn more about MIAD’s Communication Design major!


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