At Ampersand RadLab, KU students use design as a force for good

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Ryan Clifford works at the intersection of design and social impact. The KU design professor built his career as a creative designer at General Motors and a professor focused on socially conscious projects.

Now as the faculty lead for Ampersand RadLab, a new student-run project focused on community engagement, he’s helping young adults harness the power of visual art as a force for good.

“It’s about finding creative ways to celebrate what makes Lawrence, Lawrence,” Clifford says. “A real point of difference for us is that I don’t tell students what the outcome is. I give them the opportunity to use the space to create a mode of community engagement.”

Ampersand RadLab is made up of student designers, including nine graphic designers and one photography student who are all seniors at KU. Throughout the semester, they’ve been applying their skills to develop innovative solutions to real-world problems — and inviting the larger community to join in. The project is centered on a physical studio space in downtown Lawrence at 4 E. Seventh St., with a “radically inclusive” open-door policy for the public.

“We’ve been working all semester long to create a moment of joy and connection,” says Annie Myers, a student involved in Ampersand. “So that was our guiding prompt all semester: How might we design with purpose to create a connection in the community?”

On Sunday, the studio was open for the Cut & Paste Co-Design Workshop, an event focused on creating collages, enjoying conversation, and embracing creativity.

The works from that event will be featured at Ampersand’s public Gallery Showcase from 2 to 4 p.m. this Saturday, Dec. 10, in the group’s downtown space. Everyone is welcome.

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Jordan Winter (she/her), a contributor to The Lawrence Times, is a 2019 KU grad with degrees in journalism and political science.

Check out her work at See more of her work for the Times here.

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