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Monday, September 20, 2021

Design major’s international living experiences inspire creativity

MEENA RUGH / AGGIE

Sustainability, empathy drive Blanco’s motivation

From plant biology to comparative literature to theater to chemistry, third-year design major Bronte Blanco has truly tried it all.  

“I would get super inspired by the things I was learning, but nothing really stuck,” Blanco said. “I was bad at acting, but I liked stage managing, so I did a stage-managing job. When I did that I met the girl who was a double-major design and theater major, and she introduced me to design and I was like, ‘Okay I’ll dabble, I’ll see how I like it.’”

Although she was initially skeptical, Blanco found that design was the perfect fit for her.

“I thought design seemed cool, but it also seemed kind of useless and superficial and you’re not really doing anything for the world,” Blanco said. “But it’s interesting, the more you take design classes [‘design’] becomes a really relative term.”

She found that her experience of going to a high school centered around engineering boosted her enthusiasm towards the subject.

“It was basically everything I was doing with my engineering career minus all the math,” Blanco said. “So it was all the innovation and artistic work I was into with no obligation to be a mathematician or any of the science stuff that I wasn’t good at.”

Additionally, Blanco discovered design aligned well with her childhood experiences of moving internationally since her dad is in the hotel business.  

“I’ve lived close to Madagascar [Mauritius]; I’ve lived in Portugal, Mexico, and I’ve lived across America; and recently my dad moved to Singapore,” Blanco said. “Having the experience of living in all these different places you get a good sense of everyone’s different cultures and what they struggle with and what their societies are founded on and the things they excel at. Being aware of that has made me more empathetic and want to hear about the changes they want to see.”

Despite living in many places, Blanco identifies Hawai’i as home. She has found that the focus on sustainability in Hawai’i has influenced her own views.

“We learn about reuseable energy from middle school all the way into high school, all of our projects are focused on that, so for me that’s the first thing I gravitate towards because I’m like ‘yes this important and I’ve been told this is important since I was young,’ that’s inspiring to me,” Blanco said. “So I want to find a way I can be a designer but also in the environmental realm of things.”

She finds the best part about design is the impact it can have on others’ lives.

“You get to watch your idea and see it come to life, and you also get to see it solve the problem hopefully,” Blanco said. “That’s so rewarding to be part of whether it’s just you or a team of people who make differences in people’s lives in that way.”

Blanco has no specific focus in her design work and has taken a multidisciplinary approach, although the aspects she enjoys most are exhibition design and coding. Recently she worked with design professor Tim McNeil to create an exhibition that shows how the Manetti Shrem Museum was built.

“That was really great because it pushed me to do things I never thought I could do,” Blanco said. ”It gave me the confidence to believe I had the ability to lead projects because before I feel like I didn’t take that stand. But for this one I was put in a position where I didn’t really know very much, but due to deadlines that had to be met, and him encouraging me throughout the process, I got see an exhibition go from nothing to being up and getting to watch people come in and really enjoy it.”

Students can visit Blanco’s exhibition in Room 124 in Cruess Hall.
Written by: Abigail Wang — arts@theaggie.org

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