Gavin Wade

Gavin Wade is a junior from Ottawa, Kansas, who is majoring in journalism with an emphasis on strategic communication and minoring in visual art. He works for The Agency and KU History and previously worked for the University Daily Kansan. He is trained in basket weaving.

The Greek philosopher Anaxagoras has a saying, “In everything there is a share of everything.” This has been very informative for me, from the way I think about the mix of media, culture and future, to the way I think about my own goals and aspirations in life. Also very relevant when we talk about intersectionality in the political issues of our time. If you really start looking around, everything is connected.

When I was a kid, I was just taking a lot of photos with a point-and-shoot. I also was editing videos in bootlegged installs of After Effects on my home computer, making stuff happen with tutorials on YouTube. So I’ve been working with visual media for like 10 years. Photography led me into a path of journalism in high school, then to college. And now I’ve gone from creating ads for the UDK to doing brand strategy for Agency clients and more. Now, I’m finding a way to explore museum exhibit work. I think it’s the continuation of expanding the modes of storytelling that I’m interested in and thinking of how we can encode meaning in abstract imagery and experiences.

When I graduate I will always remember the “Life isn’t Fair” artwork in Dr. Rose’s office.

Lately, I’ve had a different plan like every week. It would be fun to be in some sort of creative studio, some place where we can bring together creators from many different industries and make novel methods of storytelling and experiences. Studio and archival photography have been of interest. The idea of also doing some museum work would be interesting, working with exhibit spaces, artwork, and constructing narratives out of them. Or start a vertical aeroponics farm and provide high-quality produce to local communities. I’m looking for investors, if anyone’s interested...

If I could give my freshman year self advice, I would say find inspiration far and wide. Get interested in lots of topics and find ways to bring these interests together. Spanning disciplines and finding influence from other areas has given me a much clearer lens for working on projects.

I never feel successful. But the project closest to my heart has been the University Daily Kansan relaunch. A team spent a spring and summer semester working on reconfiguring the UDK, from look and feel to company mission to media priorities. It was a stressful project and a lot of people had different ideas. There was quite a bit of heat in the system. Critical evaluation is never an easy thing, and it’s a big ask of a company to rethink its entire goal and media strategy, but I believe it was a very important step in establishing the direction of the UDK’s future.

My greatest source of joy is like fundamentally being here on this planet. We take the entire universe for granted. We could have had a universe where physics isn’t stable, but lo and behold, here we are, where the sun rises and sets every day and all of my atoms are somehow in the same place. And to be here at this point of human evolution is so precious. We have more agency and opportunity now than ever before as a species. I’d rather be here than in the Middle Ages.

I stan Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Politics aside, I admire her for redefining what a modern politician looks like. She’s directly influencing culture and policy in a way we haven’t seen before, leveraging new media to engage in an authentic way. She is going live on Instagram to connect with her constituents and activating a generation of young people in politics through social media; it’s refreshing. It’s not the fatsuits we’re used to.

Like Dr. Benson always says, stay frosty. How is the media landscape changing? What are academics doing? What are cool media companies doing? What is culture doing? Stay on top of it, and find ways to experiment in those areas. Read books, find abstract concepts that people are coming up with. I’d really like to expand my experience in exhibition design and physical spaces. It’s a new form of storytelling that I’m interested in.

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