Exploring the impact of imagery and creative interventions on the human experience of urban space.


Big Pictures is a research lab founded by Carley Hodgkinson and Erin Ashenhurst, faculty at the Wilson School of Design at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. We are focused on investigating art and design in the built environment. On billboards, posters, signs, and digital screens, in murals and street art, imagery is a meaningful part of our visual experience of cities. The nature of that imagery — the content depicted, the text displayed to sell, inform, or inspire — all works to construct how we understand the values and expectations of our surroundings. Who gets to create that imagery? What narratives and voices are amplified?

From May 5–7 of 2023, the Wilson School of Design in Richmond, British Columbia, hosted the inaugural Big Pictures event, an interdisciplinary conference of art and design.

With keynote speakers, presentation panels, and digital projects, this conference brought together participants from a wide range of creative and academic focuses including visual culture and criticism; architecture and urban studies; anthropology and education; communication design and advertising; curation and public art practices.

Once the conference concluded, we created this Lab to continue to look at opportunities and interactions initiated by imagery, subversions, and interventions. We are interested in creative and research-based projects, pedagogy, digital and print publications, and of course, the next Big Pictures conference.