About Jonathan Lerew
Jonathan Lerew, known as JT by his friends at UMass, is a graphic designer who grew up in North Central Massachusetts. He earned his associate’s in graphic and interactive design at Mount Wachusett Community College, where he was Vice President of the Graphic and Interactive Design Club. After graduating with his associate’s, he then enrolled at UMass Dartmouth to get his bachelor’s in graphic design. In his senior year, Jonathan interned at Art League Rhode Island to assist with web design work. Jonathan likes to explore different aspects of graphic design, creating print, digital, and web work with an emphasis on flat color design and digital illustration. Outside of graphic design, his interests include drawing, painting, language, and music.
My thesis project, Liudzi (lood-zee), covers the ongoing human rights crisis in the Eastern European nation of Belarus. In August of 2020, the official results of Belarus’s election said that the incumbent president Alexander Lukashenko was to be re-elected (a position he has held since the ’90s), however the people of Belarus and countries around the world denounced this as a rigged election and have been actively demanding change. In the months since the election, there has been frequent protesting throughout the country. Despite objection from citizens and sanctions from various countries, Lukashenko refuses to yield. He has fought back against peaceful protests, siccing the Belarusian police force (often undercover) against their own people, kidnapping, beating, and arresting protesters and non-protesters alike. The goal of Liudzi is to be informative and to raise awareness, discussing a topic that an American audience may otherwise not know about.
I was inspired to create this project because of a Belarusian friend of mine. As the events have unfolded in Belarus, he has kept me up to date with all the latest information he has and about anything he has participated in. After learning of the struggle happening in Belarus, I knew I wanted to find a way to spread the word about it. The main component of Liudzi is a graphic essay with both a web presence and a printed edition. Throughout the essay, illustrations and animations light up the text, creating an engaging learning experience for readers. Along with the essay, there is also a social media campaign for Liudzi, providing a way to more quickly share the project.