MARY HOFFMAN has a winning vision for fighting crime. The graphic design student created an anti-violence illustration that took first place in a poster contest at the University of Maryland Baltimore County earlier this week.
The university, which plans to reproduce at least 200 copies of the black and white design at its new offset lithography facility, hopes the poster will make its way -- with the help of the Mayor's office and city police department -- to the walls of public and private buildings around town in the not-too-distant future.
The poster contest was organized by Jeri Robinson, visiting assistant professor of visual arts at UMBC, who says she developed the idea after moving to Baltimore last September and hearing about various ongoing community efforts to reduce crime in the city.
"Coming from Philadelphia, where there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of interest from the community in stopping violence, I was impressed. I wanted to make the students aware they could help through the visual media."
So Robinson organized a contest to design an anti-crime poster as a practicum for the 20 students in her Graphic Design II class. Meanwhile, she invited Baltimore City Police Commissioner Edward Woods and several other representatives of local activist groups to be judges.
On Tuesday, only a month after students first were asked to put pen to paper, the judges met at UMBC to make their decision. Hoffman's poster was chosen for first prize because of its positive image, says Tracy Brown, director of the Mayor's Coordinating Council on Criminal Justice and one of the five judges.
Hoffman's black and white design depicts two different options for a young person: On one hand, there are positive role models like Martin Luther King Jr. and Colin Powell; on the other, the consequences of following a criminal life are depicted. "It's Your Choice" is the written message.
The design was done in pen and ink, "with a little manipulation by the computer," says Hoffman, a former civil service employee who already has a bachelor's degree in English. The prize is the opportunity to have a couple hundred copies of your design actually printed for distribution, says the 28-year-old student, who hopes to move into a career in graphic arts or animation after graduation next year.
Robinson said Art Press, the Department of Visual Arts' printing facility, will produce as many as 500 copies, depending on demand. The other contest judges were the Rev. Emmett Burns of the United Baptist Missionary Convention; Joseph Washington Project BRAVE (Baltimoreans Reducing All Violent Encounters); and Annabelle Sher of the Mayor's Office.
Brown, who will be coordinating requests for the poster from civic groups, says the city has begun exploring opportunities for distributing and displaying the posters, which may range from hanging in city buildings to use at marches and rallies.