Audra Buck-Coleman is an Associate Professor of Design and the graphic design program director at the University of Maryland, College Park (UMD). She holds an MFA in two-dimensional design from Cranbrook Academy of Art, a Bachelor of Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia and a doctorate in sociology with an emphasis on social psychology and social mobility and inequality from UMD.

Audra Buck-Coleman speaking at the Bahai Lecture

Photo by Lance Curry

Buck-Coleman has written, art directed, curated, designed, authored, and directed numerous design projects, including Sticks + Stones, an international multi-university collaborative graphic design project that investigates stereotyping and related issues. She has led students through more than a dozen whole-class collaborative projects with both on-campus and off-campus partners. Eight addressed issues of underrepresented communities. She most recently led #SayItLikeItIs, a collaboration with The Peale Center for Baltimore Architecture and History and students from Baltimore high schools addressing the state of education in Baltimore City high schools.

Buck-Coleman also directed a similar project in 2015-2016, BMORE Than The Story. During this project 50 high school and college students addressed the unrest surrounding the death of Freddie Gray and the April 2015 Uprising. The students produced an exhibit addressing issues of police brutality, the one-sided media portrayal of the Uprising, police surveillance and stereotypes and perceptions of the high school students and their communities. The Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture hosted the exhibit, which was recognized as Best Community Curation in the City Paper’s 2016 Best of Baltimore awards, was awarded runner-up in Core77, an international design competition, and won a top design award from the Washington, D.C. American Advertising Federation.

In the 2010 Sticks + Stones iteration, Buck-Coleman co-led a collaboration with design faculty and students from China, Turkey, Germany, England, and the United States to address issues of stereotyping and immigration. More than 75 students from diverse areas of the United States have participated in the previous 2005 and 2006 U.S.-based projects.

Buck-Coleman’s social design research focuses how design might impact communities and includes assessment metrics. Currently she is working on four primary projects: a mixed method study about the potential of art and design to influence opinions of diverse others, another investigating the use of language in protest signage, a third investigating the potential for art and design to propagate agency and self-efficacy in youth, and a fourth investigating the potential impact of large-scale murals in urban neighborhoods.

She has presented her research nationally and internationally including the Icograda IEN Conference, the Icograda Design Education Manifesto Conference, the Design Research Society Conference, the College Art Association conference, and numerous AIGA Design Education conferences. Her research and scholarship have been published in the book Developing Citizen Designers and in journals including Visible Language and Iridescent, among others.

Before joining UMD faculty, Buck-Coleman taught at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.