Hannah Smotrich is a visual communication designer whose research explores how design can make the possibilities for change visible, accessible, and actionable.
She collaborates with other experts across a broad range of fields — public policy, history, law, cultural anthropology, medicine, business — as well as with creative colleagues on projects designed to improve outcomes for individuals and communities.
Creative Campus Voting Project, an initiative she co-leads with Stephanie Rowden, investigates how creative interventions — online, on campus and in the classroom — can catalyze peer-to-peer interactions that increase college-age voting. Toward Thriving, a project she co-leads with Stephanie Tharp, is designing and testing the efficacy of a positive psychology intervention for chronic pain patients.
Past work centered on communities, identity, and cultural history includes: narrative exhibitions (on the impact of immigration policy, the contributions of Chicana women in Michigan, the lives of textile workers in Lewiston, Maine), a bilingual, participatory public-art installation at the Jewish Cultural Festival held in Krakow, Poland; and a system of Neighborhood Heritage Trails in Washington, DC, developed and implemented over the course of a decade.
At Stamps, Smotrich teaches across the design curriculum, and has a particular interest in developing courses where students collaborate — with each other, with peers in other UM units, and outside partners. Smotrich co-founded the Detroit Neighborhood Entrepreneurs Project with U-M colleagues at Ross, Law, and Public Policy. The initiative gives students the opportunity to work in interdisciplinary teams and apply their design skills to challenges faced by community business owners in Detroit. Together with Stamps colleague Joe Trumpey, Smotrich worked with students on a design/build project to assess needs, design, and train a local, village-based team to build improved cookstoves in the Maasai village of Lesoit, Tanzania.
Over the course of her career, Smotrich has worked with a range of communities, academic and cultural institutions and government agencies, including the National Gallery of Art, Cultural Tourism DC, Smithsonian Institution, Michigan Secretary of State’s Office, and the US Postal Service.