Work from the unCommission’s Resident Artist
Throughout the unCommission process, resident artist Play Steinberg lifted up storyteller voices through illustrations, making meaning of all that we were hearing. These illustrations depict the experiences, words, and stories of storytellers, lift up the insights across stories, and offer imagery for the central theme of belonging we heard over and over again.
Below, we've shared brief descriptions of all commissioned pieces. You can scroll to the end of this page to see the illustrations in full size and learn more about Play.
This art reflects the interpretations, beliefs, and opinions of the artist and should not be considered representative of the views of the unCommission nor 100Kin10.
In response to the unCommission's 600 stories, Play depicted the theme of belonging in STEM -- and teachers' centrality to that -- in the illustration above. Here's how Play described the work:
Belonging and inclusion are integral attributes of any thriving community. And yet it can be hard even to define these terms, let alone quantify them. For this image, I drew inspiration from the various ecologies of North America and the keystone species that anchor and sustain life in each of them. These ecosystems and elements are not discrete - one species feeds the next, creating the ground for another’s success, just as strong, well-networked teachers can create the conditions for all students to thrive.
The illustration above depicts the words of one of our storytellers, Alexis, who is a seventh grade technology teacher in New York. Play chose Alexis' story because it spoke to a resounding theme we heard in story after story: students need teachers to see them and make them feel heard if they are going to persist in STEM.
This illustration depicts some of the early stories received by the unCommission. They represent a wide range of experiences that young people may have on their STEM learning journeys ranging from curiosity, joy, and excitement to intimidation, apathy, and even sometimes discrimination.
Here are the stories depicted in this illustration: “Recognizing Representation” by Arsima, “Denise's 12-K Story” by Denise, “STEM Changed My Education” by Brandon, “Renee's story” by Renee, “How real-world learning can improve STEM student engagement” by Rhea, and “Dani’s Story” by Daniela
The two illustrations above depict why storytellers chose to participate in the unCommission, as told in their own words. This art features quotes from four storytellers: Kendra Hale, Kaitlyn Varela, Dorianis Perez, and an anonymous storyteller. Storytellers are in the foreground of the illustrations with their reasons for sharing their story with the unCommission written around them. Our storytellers stand alongside other influential STEM experts, including George Washington Carver, Valerie Thomas, Ellen Ochoa, Percy Julian, Ruby Hiros, Franklin Chang-Diaz, and Karlie Noon. Read the full quotes from our storytellers here.
The above four illustrations are Play's reaction to the many stories from the unCommission and the early insights that emerged. In Play's own words:
I chose the metaphor of a role-playing game to represent the core themes emerging from the unCommission’s work. Each student’s journey is unique, and chance plays a large role in their outcomes, but at the end of the day, the field is still rigged. What would happen if the players themselves made the rules? What if STEM education centered students’ lived experiences?
Scroll on to see the full size images of the unCommission art.
Play (pronoun: ha) is a public listener, visual facilitator, and scribe who works across all sectors and subject matters. With a passion for individual and systemic transformation, mapping complex connections, and making the invisible visible, Play's work draws on the frameworks and technologies of Theory.U, MG Taylor (DesignShops), generative scribing, critical race theory, systems thinking, and the wisdom traditions of Tibetan Buddhism and the Americas.