Willhemina Wahlin is a Lecturer in Graphic Design within the School of Communication and Creative Industries (SCCI) at Charles Sturt University's Port Macquarie campus. She holds a Bachelor of Media Communications and a Bachelor of Arts (Visual and Performing Arts)(Honours)(Graphic Design) with Charles Sturt University. She is currently undertaking a practice-led doctoral degree with SCCI.
Willhemina's research focuses on the designer's role in the creation of 'difficult knowledge' exhibitions: that is, exhibitions that contain information related to genocide, gender violence, colonialism, war or contested histories. She is developing a model of design practice based on critical hermeneutics and social semiotic, multimodal analysis (the CHaSSMM Model) that reveals a project's underlying ideological framework, and how an exhibition's elements become the 'performance' of that ideology.
Her interest in this field evolved from her work as Creative Director for PROOF: Media for Social Justice, a New York-based non-profit organisation that utilises visual storytelling for human rights and peacebuilding. With PROOF, Willhemina has designed multiple exhibitions that have focused on issues such as genocide prevention, gender violence, child soldiers and criminal justice. These exhibitions have travelled to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cambodia, Australia, the United States, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Canada. More recently, she has designed exhibitions for PROOF's Moral Courage Project (with the University of Dayton's Human Rights Centre) and Picture Justice (with the United Nations International School and Lyons Community School in Brooklyn, N.Y).
Willhemina is a member of the Australian Graphic Design Association (AGDA), the American Institute of Graphics Arts (AIGA), Interpretation Australia, the Society for Experiential Graphic Design, and the International Association of Genocide Scholars.
Willhemina's approach to design education is based on a studio-based teaching and learning model. This model suggests that students learn in three ways: from their lecturer and materials, from their design practice and from each other. Willhemina aims to bring this studio-based model to both the design studio and online environment, encouraging students to share their works-in-progress, to understand the important role of critique, and to keep pushing their own boundaries within their design practice. At the same time, it prepares students to be critical thinkers and problem solvers, and to think strategically in order to innovatively address the design challenges to come.
Wahlin, W. (in progress). "The Ligatures of Life: designing the designer of difficult exhibitions". Exegesis, School of Communication and Creative Industries, Charles Sturt University.
Honours (Class 1)
Wahlin, W. (2010). The Rescuers: Exploring the politics & poetics of typographic language in the exhibition context. (Bachelor of Arts (Visual & Performing Arts)(Graphic Design)(Honours), Exegesis, Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga.
Wahlin, W. (2015). "The Ligatures of Life: The designer's role in telling the 'difficult' stories of genocide", Genocide Studies Program Special Lecture Series, Yale University, December.
Wahlin, W. (2016). "Difficult Design: A designer's responsibility?", Parsons The New School of Design, New York, October.
Wahlin, W. and Paulovich, B. (in press). "The What, Who, How & Why: Building interpretive support models for the design of paediatric health education materials". Information Design Journal.
Wahlin, W., & Kahn, L. (2015). Difficult Exhibitions in Difficult Sites: An Investigation of Exhibition Design Practice for The Rescuers in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Design Journal, 18(4), 535-554. doi: 10.1080/14606925.2015.1054208