Danae Paparis



Print Design | Layout | Identity


I was prompted to create a fictitious museum exhibition of things I happen to collect, and a catalog of the exhibit as a complement. My collection of plastic bags happened to be my biggest collection of items available to me in my dorm at the time. I did not collect these bags for any purpose other than to have enough receptacles for carrying things or for throwing things away. Using the plastic bag as a metaphor for social issues that seem to suffocate us, I created more than just a passive spectator exhibit. I created a multi-media, multi-dimensional forum that invites the audience to engage in a dialogue on these social issues. 

My hypothetical exhibition integrated a book with collections of personal stories on difficult topics, from “Generation Y”, with striking photography of plastic bags that invoked the sensation of suffocation pertinent to each story. I chose to place the exhibit in the Miller Gallery, an art gallery located on Carnegie Mellon's campus, where I thought my target audience would be most accessible, and most responsive.

The catalog, to be read as one walks through the exhibit. The excerpts of stories in different handwriting would be the captions within the exhibit, and the catalog would be read through to connect my sentiments on sensitive topics which are difficult for our generation to talk about.




As I was photographing  my plastic bags, I was struck by the striking imagery I could create.  The graphic textures were surprisingly beautiful.  I was impressed that my pile of inanimate, disposable, wrinkled plastic could emerge in photographs with such an organic force of energy and evoke a range of emotions.  I believed my photo exhibit had the potential to charm and fascinate my audience by revealing the extraordinary in the ordinary. My excitement turned to angst when I started shoving my head inside the bags to get the shots I wanted. I realized how easily these simple objects can steal someone's life in the wrong situation. This is where I was inspired to use these photographs as the metaphor to narrate a bigger story. Recognizing the potency of the plastic bag as a metaphor for social issues drove me to create a more unique and multi-dimensional presentation, by introducing a book, with design work integrated with the exhibit, of stories and reflections on difficult social issues that correlate with, and complement the photographic exhibit.  

Initially, I chose to exhibit my work in the Whitney Museum.  Its contemporary atmosphere and brand fits the tone of my exhibit. In order to address this choice, I looked for typefaces, that complemented their streamline brand, to use in my presentation.

During the process, I explored some photographic concepts that offered dramatically frightening images. However,  I came to the realization thatthe exhibit should be revealing and honest, but not dark and morbid.  I felt that a more productive and healthy dialogue could come from an exhibit that is not depressing and feels more hopeful. It is more approachable and digestible.

I shifted gears and sat down to write. I wrote out a lot of different kinds of stories revolving around hard topics, and ended up writing the copy content for my catalog book. 


I learned a lot about process, documentation, and project growth from this prompt. There was leeway to explore my own style and push the constraints of a typical branding prompt since the exhibit was fictional. I was able to infuse my love of photography, color, writing, and social psychology into one deliverable.