Growing up in Mexico, scenes from Diego Rivera’s murals in the Palacio Nacional in Mexico City were often copied into storybooks. These murals were a crucial piece of Mexican history as the country transitioned from revolution to a unified nation. It helped a population that spoke hundreds of languages piece together aspects of a shared past. This type of visual storytelling created timeless cultural pieces that allowed me to explain these stories beyond my community; I constantly learned to communicate better from them.
Stories help us become bridges between our communities. We can create and recreate those “Aha!” moments, where a concept or an idea briefly connects us to the person sharing it with us. While these murals mean one thing for me and another for someone else, we are able to share the experience of the story.
Social media makes it easier for our communities to grow across time zones, requiring us to engage with a wide variety of learners. The key to success lies in the presentation of the material. Kickstarter helps independent storytellers produce films that contribute to awareness/educational campaigns, like Preston Stringer’s “LGBT Queerstory: a Gay History Web Series.” This project tells stories about the Gay rights movement through claymation to encourage others to keep fighting for equality.
Visual storytelling is also making important strides in classrooms: one teacher, Aaron Reedy, tweeted that the lesson he gave in his biology classes on sex determination only reached about 1000 students in the 7 years he offered the class. After he produced a video version of his lesson on TED-Ed, he was able to reach 13,000 viewers in 3 days. The TED-Ed brings teachers together to make learning fun and engaging for all kinds of learners. Other platforms like InfoViz also take on concepts like the elements through playfully animated videos,designed to help students engage with the material.
Similarly, businesses like Bridgewater produce videos that explain the diversity of the “economic machine” in 30 minutes to help consumers approach finance and investment opportunities with more clarity.
Today, we have the opportunity to brainstorm with talent across the globe – could telling your story through a visual language be the key to connecting your community to another, allowing you to learn from and progress with one another?
How have you seen visual storytelling used in creative, impactful ways?
Diana studies informal economies, social enterprises, and economic systems at Locus Analytics. She spends a lot of time exploring new neighborhoods, especially in Latin America.