Raafia Jessa
Wanderer. Nomad. Graphic Designer.


Ecopoetics of the Gulf and Bay


Ecopoetics of the Gulf and Bay.

A poetic collaboration between poets and designers at The University of Houston to visually identify and bring attention to various issues in the Galveston Bay. 

Organized into teams and assigned an element of nature (earth, air, fire or water) participants immersed themselves in various activities to help facilitate engagement, observation and research of the Galveston Bay area.

The research collected manifested itself into a three part exhibition:

  1. “Samples/specimens” displayed in 70 glass jars (10 per team); a graphic representation of an expanded understanding of the location in relation to the element being represented.

  2. Video poems. Live footage, imagery, typography and in some cases, spoken word were used to animate poetry in relevance to the Bay.

  3. Eight poems. Written by the University of Houston PHD Creative Writing program and visually illustrated and letter pressed by the Senior Graphic Design class. The poems were designed as broadsides, printed, bound as an edition of 300 and donated to a non-profit that supports Gulf coast ecologies.


Team 5: Water

As Team 5, we were assigned the element of water and paired with poet Martin Rock. Our broadside and video featured two poems from his book, Residuum, and tried to capture the feeling of the loss of sentiment towards nature in man’s quest for survival. Our jars also included a excerpt from his poem Bloodless.

All the work created is based around the idea of the duality of Man's existence and his impact on the environments that he inhabits.

Jars: We drilled holes into glass jars, covered them in fishing wire, net, bait and other fishing supplies to represent the idea of by-catch; the wastage of small aquatic life cause by mass fishing.

Broadside: The poem Bloodless set to an illustration of the path of an amoeba through water.

Video: Along with a captain, we sailed into the Gulf of Mexico to capture footage. The video’s aesthetic takes inspiration from Residuum; trying to capture a man’s thought as he interacts with the presence of water, the effect it has on him and vice versa.

Book Cover and Exhibition Branding

The cover of the book was a competition. As the winner of the competition, I had the opportunity to create the identity of the exhibition which included: intro page for the book, the window graphics and introduction wall for the exhibition.