To Frame a


Kaleidoscopes encourage one to imagine new worlds of changing perspective, while also emboldening one to look at their reality through its lens. Like magic, the turning motion of the device weaves color into rainbows, the beads within the viewfinder creating a choreographed dance of pirouetting shapes. Developed to be an object of inspiration and introspection for designers, scientists, artists, and philosophers, kaleidoscopes teach the importance of having a point of view and of creating a lens through their manipulation of reality. As I’ve become introspective surrounding the growth I’ve experienced as an artist and designer I have come to appreciate how I’ve been able to create a lens in which to view myself and my world. I think of this lens as my own personal kaleidoscope, each shift of my learning goals, perspectives, and ideas showing off a new piece of who I am. In order to better understand this kaleidoscope lens, I will deconstruct my work employing the five learning goals I see as essential to my process: critical and creative thinking, diversity and equity, collaboration and shared leadership, interdisciplinary research and inquiry, as well as writing and communication, as a means to analyze myself and my academic adventure. 

As I begin on this journey of self-reflection, I am first drawn to focus on searching for evidence of the creation of an academic and innovative lens. I feel that critical and creative thought are an integral part of not only how work is created as an artist and designer, but how innovation is cultivated as an academic. The first piece in which I feel I explored my critical thinking was within epaR/erutluC, a participatory performance game. Through this choose your own adventure style performance game, I was able to explore societal understandings surrounding sexual assault and create an experience where I invited participants to reflect on these ideas as well. This type of critical thinking pushed me to see my work not only as a way to respond to ideas but as opportunities to reflect and incite others into doing so as well. Additionally, this inspiration flowed into the nurturing of another facet of my kaleidoscope: my creative lens. Looking back I see a thread between the development of my critical thought within epaR/erutluC, and the creative thought I exhibited in “Nude Descending”, where I decided to experiment with abstraction as a means of communicating my ideas. Within “Nude Descending”, I used the motion of video editing to contrast with the stillness of the photographs, I abstracted motion in relation to the human body. This forced my audience to again reflect on their understanding of these abstract concepts, making it clear the critical and creative thinking are important markers within my kaleidoscope lens.

As I went further through my work, I noticed how it was important that my kaleidoscope lens expanded to include anarchism. There are many abstract and literal concepts within anarchism, but while at UW Bothell I began interpreting anarchism as creating experiences and interactions that served the audience first. Reflecting on my work, I had at first thought of diversity and equity as existing literally. But when working on an interactive fiction project called “Spill Your Tea,” I found that the project encouraged the audience to understand diversity and equity not just as physical manifestations, but as an interactive process that must be engaged to come alive. This is because as I worked on the project, I realized that tailoring our personal stories to different tea ceremonies allowed our audience to experience equity rather than learn about it. This realization was profound and inspired me to carry the insight of diversity and equity as experiences forward. Therefore, when I was able to work on a 360 video project for Downtown Emergency Services Center (DESC) as a part of a Community-Based Research and Learning (CBLR) course, this wisdom guided my artistic process. Leveraging the medium of 360 video, I explored how immersion of the audience in the experience of diversity and equity allowed me to achieve both DESC’s mission and my artistic goals. Upon completion of this project, I recognized that not only could I create a specific lens and utilize it to complete work, but that diversity and equity were not goals but tools at my disposal as an artist and designer.  

As I continue to review my journey, I noticed my kaleidoscope lens shifting to contain more of my insights, especially surrounding the effects of collaboration and leadership in relation to building my perspective. Since I was beginning to learn that I didn’t have to compromise who I was when completing projects, I was curious to contemplate the effect of collaboration and shared leadership within my work. When I thought back to the first project I had worked on during my time at UWB, I was struck at how we as a team felt like we had created something greater than ourselves. The project was called “Woodland Wintering” and involved creating a board game that taught about wintering PNW animals. I took the role as a project manager, as I had been working as a retail manager for almost ten years. However, I soon realized that artistic and design collaborative efforts were different from my efforts on my shop floor. Instead of attempting to steer the project in the direction I felt best, I leaned into the strengths of my team members, looking for instances where I could make them shine, while also providing support within their areas of opportunity. Looking at the post mortem on this game allowed me to reflect on how not only did this occur, but it inspired how I worked with every team moving forth. The best example of this is my pitch presentation for my Interactive Media Design (IMD) capstone. The presentation required many sessions of intensive conversation requiring myself and my group to act in concert, lending ideas and theories like different instruments lend sound. In order to accomplish this, I drew upon my previous knowledge, acknowledging the backgrounds, abilities, and stories of my group members as an advantage, not a roadblock. It’s evident within our pitch presentation the care we took to unfold a speculative world of our inspiration, process, and overarching questions, while still setting expectations and deliverable goals.

After seeing the difference collaboration made within my work, I was curious to examine how interdisciplinary research and inquiry influenced my kaleidoscope lens. I was discovering that while I didn’t need to compromise who I was within my work, it was vital to consider its contribution to larger conversations surrounding art and design.  My first brush with interdisciplinary research and inquiry was with my project “Kaleidoscopes of Abstraction.” In this project, I used research and inquiry to inspire my manipulation and reimagining of found footage as spiraling gifs accompanied with flarf poetry. Through this process, I began to more deeply understand the conversations surrounding art and how my piece contributed to it. I saw that interdisciplinary research and inquiry wasn’t simply looking up information, but the act of transforming my research into something new via my lens and that this lens would then be researched and iterated upon by someone else. This inspired me in another CBLR course, where I worked with the Imagine Children’s Museum to improve their visitor experience. I collaborated with visitors and museum workers alike to understand not only the needs of each group but the context of the experience, by looking into reviews of the museum and children’s psychology. I spoke at length with Imagine Children’s Museum about other museums and their intended experiences, as well as utilized human-centered design to guide my ethnographic research. This allowed me to participate in a larger conversation surrounding the culture and design of children’s museums. Thus when I presented my ideas within a final presentation, it was reflective of the dimensional, interdisciplinary lens I had created and applied within the project as a result of my studies and my perspective. It also was the creation of an artifact that could be further used by the museum as a guide for their research explorations to come.

Nearing the end of my journey, and analyzing all of my essential learning goals thus far, I see writing and communication as tools I wield to better explain my perspective. I first observed this in my essay “From Hermione Granger to Albus Dumbledore: from a consumer of knowledge to a facilitator thereof”. Within the essay, I saw myself recognize the fruitfulness of applying audience, context, and evidence as the writing and communication apparatus that allowed me to properly articulate my perspective. I took this idea into my next piece, an online multimodal literary journal named “Crescendo”, that accepted submissions from the open internet. It was a different situation than I had encountered with my writing previously, and I realized that the best way to write the instructions for journal submission was to create a perspective for the project. Inspired by my developing kaleidoscope lens as an example of an expressed point of view, I articulated the submission requirements and journal goals of the project via its mindset. This allowed me to see that beyond my own reflective writing, having a lens or perspective is a part of the communication of an idea. Therefore, when I look back now, I am able to see how my lens transformed my writing and communication competence, encouraging me to create a frame of reference for all that I create.

To end, I have used these learning goals not only to create the elements of my kaleidoscope lens but the means of which to evaluate it. Such examination has allowed me to behold the winding quest of my introspection as an artist and designer, and contemplate how this has changed who I am, and how I move forward. Ultimately, this development of not only my kaleidoscope lens but the capacity to analyze my work and perspective allows me to continuously iterate on myself as I press further. This self-reflection has allowed me to discover that I am not only an artist and designer but an academic and life-long learner, with a specific eye that can be applied to my work. I have grown from a passive participant of art, design, and academics to a facilitator of these disciplines with something to say, and for that, I couldn’t be more proud. 

Works Cited

Raymond, Rachel “Capstone Pitch.” BIMD 491 Integrative Studio II: Practicum, Dr. Arnie Lund. Autumn 2019.

Raymond, Rachel “Crescendo.” BISIA 207. Introduction to Creative Writing, Professor Chelsea Grimmer. Winter 2019.

Raymond, Rachel “Design Cinema: DESC.” BIMD 362 Studio Elements III in conjunction with Community Based Learning and Research, Professor Minda Martin. Spring 2019.

Raymond, Rachel “epaR/erutluC Participatory Performance Game.” BISIA 383. Science Fiction and Social Change in Art, Dr. micha cardnas. Winter 2018.

Raymond, Rachel “From Hermione Granger to Albus Dumbledore: from a consumer of knowledge to a facilitator thereof. Final Portfolio Reflection Paper.” BIS 300. Interdisciplinary Inquiry. Dr. Keith Nita. Autumn 2017.

Raymond, Rachel “Kaleidoscope of Abstraction Gif Tumblr.” BISIA 340. The Art of the Remix. Joe Mitilus. Autumn 2018.

Raymond, Rachel “Nude Descending.” BIMD 352. Studio Elements II: Essentials, Professor Carrie Bodle. Winter 2019.

Raymond, Rachel “Spill Your Tea Interactive Fiction” BIMD 236. Introduction to Interactive Media, Dr. Mark Chen. Spring 2018.

Raymond, Rachel “Woodland Wintering Board Game Documentation.” BIMD 250. Introduction to Interaction Design, Dr. Mark Chen. Autumn 2017.