ISLAMABAD: An exhibition featuring over 60 digital posters, advocating against the use of recreational drugs, opened at the National College of Arts (NCA) Auditorium on Friday evening.

The posters have been created by students from the Visual Communications Departments at NCA Rawalpindi and Lahore as part of an assignment. The exhibition was opened by Federal Education and Professional Training Minister Shafqat Mahmood who spoke briefly at the event, imploring students to not experiment with recreational drugs.

“The use of recreational drugs can lead to dependency and has destroyed the lives of many great artists,” he said.

Speaking to Dawn, NCA Rawalpindi Principal Dr Murtaza Jafri said drug-use among students was becoming increasingly common and this exhibition was aimed at educating students about the associated dangers.

“We are making an effort to curb smoking and drug-use at our campuses. In addition to tobacco and hashish, young people are experimenting with chemically-produced recreational drugs which can be life-threatening,” he said.

“Visual mediums are powerful tools for advocacy and as an art university, we feel we have a responsibility to educate people visually,” Dr Jafri added.

While over 60 posters were featured as part of the exhibition, each reflected visual power of a poster to communicate a message through iconography and a simple yet striking typography. Some of the works employed humour and cheeky messaging in Urdu to communicate their message.

Students had chosen to address various recreational drugs through mostly digitally illustrated posters, while one of the students, Hajera Ahmed, had highlighted the dangers of opioid-use through a mixed-medium poster. Another student Laila Mumtaz, who had also created a mixed medium poster, told Dawn she ess advocate for a tobacco and drug-free lifestyle.

“This exhibition was for second-year students but I chose to submit my work because this issue is close to my heart,” she said.

Talking to Dawn, faculty member Afreen Siddiqui said in order to create posters for this exhibition, students spent time thinking about the dangers of drug-use and the various ways in which it can harm the mind and the body.

“We hope that this would discourage them from experimenting with drugs themselves, while also practicing the use design for advocacy,” she said.

Students from other colleges in the twin cities have also been invited to visit the exhibition and collages of the work featured have been sent to other campuses to raise awareness.

Published in Dawn, November 17th, 2018