The Knowledge Integration eXhibition (KIX) 2022 was a highly informative, thought provoking and engaging one. As part of their program, Bachelor of Knowledge Integration (KI) students take a three course Museum Sequence culminating in their capstone design project, KIX – an annual, temporary museum showcase with exhibits researched, designed and set up entirely by KI students.
“[KI] is a social engineering program. When you look at the way that our course is structured, it’s actually fairly similar to an engineering program in what you’re learning and what values are being taught. But instead of building physical bridges or buildings or robots or machinery, which to a degree happens a little bit in KI, we’re all about building social change,” said Sophia Richardson, a 3B Knowledge Integration student who was the project manager for one of the KIX exhibits, ‘Homegrown.’
This year’s KIX had seven exhibits centred around the theme, ‘United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals’ — ‘Mind Your Body,’ ‘Home Grown,’ ‘Single-Use Society,’ ‘Birds of a Feather, When We Flock Together,’ ‘[Un]Welcome,’ ‘The Cost of Convenience’ and ‘Stuff Your Sex Ed Teacher(s) Never Told You.’
The exhibition allows KI students to apply their knowledge to display real world issues.
“So the first two years of the program, you get a very theoretical idea of ‘What is knowledge?,’ ‘How do we learn things?,’ ‘How is knowledge valued in our society?’ and then with the exhibition, we’ve put that into the physical world. So the exhibit itself does take quite a while to plan. It’s an eight month process starting in September ending, I guess, technically in April,” explained Jay Miller, a 3B KI student who worked on the exhibit ‘Single Use Society.’
“We have to plan out all of our text, we create storyboards, we have little mini presentations we do in class, and during those eight months, we also have to prepare all the text, find all the images, figure out a way to print it, and build all the digital components,” Miller added.
Under normal circumstances, the students go on a 10-day research trip to a museum city in Europe in their second year, in preparation for this exhibition. However, for the past two years, students have been unable to travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic also affected the execution of the KIX exhibits.
“The way that we set it up had to be different this year. Usually we put up the exhibit using doors and it’s all one contained exhibit and usually we would have the chance to paint those doors. If you look at previous years, they had much more artistically diverse exhibits because they were able to paint, but due to the fear that a group would be not able to complete painting their doors if someone might get COVID, a decision was made that every single door would be white walls and then we would only be able to put stuff up instead of painting,” said Bailey Gardien, a 4B KI student who worked on ‘The Cost of Convenience.’
Despite the challenges brought by the pandemic, the final product was highly informative and engaging.
“A lot of [exhibit design] is about creating a lot of places for interaction. So instead of just going up to an exhibit wall and just reading and reading, it’s really important you have interactive elements within it and to allow visitors to construct a bit of their own narrative within that exhibit topic that you have,” Richardson said. “Within my exhibit, ‘Homegrown’, we were looking at the effects of agriculture in Southwestern Ontario. We tried to have a lot of our interactive elements through immersing people with a sense of space. So for instance, we were able to get an actual functioning vertical farm, and the purpose of having that in our exhibit was to actually show the tangibility of how food is actually grown and to create a bit of that emotional connection.”
In the exhibit ‘[Un]Welcome,’ which explored hostile architecture, visitors were encouraged to try sleeping on a bench with a divider, allowing them to physically experience how architecture can be made with an intent to target the unhoused.
The exhibit, ‘The Cost of Convenience’ which looked at the human cost of consumerism had an activity where visitors had to try and scan multiple items on a list within a minute like an Amazon worker would have to. This helped drive home the point of how large corporations expect workers to work at inhumane speeds.
Even the factual elements were not simply used as a way to disseminate information but to also leave the visitors thinking about what they learned. The ‘Stuff Your Sex Ed Teacher(s) Never Told You’ exhibit had a section on menstruation that addressed period stigma and encouraged the visitors to think about how they contribute to the stigma. The ‘Birds of a Feather, When We Flock Together’ exhibit not only talked about identity and inclusion but also gave the visitors an opportunity to think about how their identity influences their interactions with others.
People interested in behind-the-scenes content or learning more about the exhibition can visit @kixuw on Instagram.