The final stage of the graduate Design program at Pratt Institute is a Master's Thesis, which starts with directed research and culminates three semesters later with an extensive project, which must offer a design solution to a stated problem. My thesis explored the lack of documentation of Indian American history in the United States and how the diverse experiences and stories of this group could be preserved.

To develop my hypothesis and work plan, I studied a variety of existing Indian American cultural records, including academic papers, books, movies, and digital media, as well as the records of other cultural histories. I surveyed Indian Americans to understand how they feel about their history, heritage and living in the United States. My research was summarized in an infographic that I shared with all survey takers.

Soon after developing my hypothesis, I learned that the Smithsonian Institute had recently launched the Indian American Heritage Project. The IAHP is a groundbreaking initiative to chronicle the stories of Indian immigrants and their descendants in the United States. A key component will be an exhibition, Beyond Bollywood: Indian Americans Shape the Nation, which will open in Fall 2013 at the National Museum of National History. The exhibition will explore the heritage, daily experience and numerous, diverse contributions that Indian immigrants and Indian Americans have made to shaping the United States.

For my thesis, I worked with the Smithsonian’s IAHP curator to create branding and design collateral – both print and digital – for the IAHP and the Beyond Bollywood exhibition. The IAHP website will serve as a place for people to contribute their artifacts (photos, videos, and stories), as well as a digital archive for people to view artifacts and learn about Indian American history. The goal of my design work is to raise awareness of the IAHP and the exhibition among the Indian American community, and compel people to contribute to the preservation of their history in this country.

While I have completed my thesis, I continue to work with the Smithsonian on their additional design and marketing needs.