By Brock Lytle

Back in the fall, I was contacted by Enid Wasserman about a historical exhibit she had been wanting to put together. We met and discussed her desire to honor World War II veterans that have lived in University Commonsthe adult living community here in Ann Arbor whose residents “include faculty and staff of the University of Michigan as well as other colleges and universities, professionals and business people.” As I suggested certain materials, features, design ideas, etc., I could see the smile on her face and her eyes lighting up telling me that this was a very passionate project to her.

World War II exhibit at University Commons with University of Michigan

Ms. Wasserman worked very closely with the families, the Bentley Historical Museum, the Yankee Air Museum, and many other museums and Archives around the US and Canada to obtain a great amount of content for each veteran affiliated with University Commons. She also worked closely with our team here at Paragon. “My collaboration with Paragon was a three-team effort with Brock Lytle, account manager, and Sara Avery, graphic designer. Both approached this project with enthusiasm and professionalism.” Together we decided to create print-wrapped panels for each of the sixteen honorees, using historical photos relating to each veteran’s personal experience as the background images. To give a dimensional aspect we then used bump-out images, attaching bios and photos of the veterans in service, where they were stationed, planes they flew, machines they worked on, official documents, handwritten letters home, and other items depicting their achievements and honors. It was very important to Enid that each of the families saw files of the panels as they were designed and to have input on the text and images used. 

To open the exhibit, we created an Introduction panel listing the veteran honorees & explaining they had lived at University Commons. Also created was a large-scale panel of a WWII era map; on this we used push-pins to denote where the honorees had been stationed or had traveled during the War. An additional panel featured a photo of an impromptu parade down Ann Arbor’s Main Street in celebration of the the announcement of the Japanese surrender. To round out the exhibit, a final panel was created in dedication to Enid’s very dear friend Vijaya Nagesh.

World War II exhibit at University Commons with University of Michigan

The completed exhibit was unveiled by Ms. Wasserman on April 14th, 2018 at a private gala held within University Commons. The event included the families of the veterans, and even featured a very special guest in one of the honorees, Fran Weeks. On top of the larger aspects, we also helped design and create table cards and magnetic name tags for those in attendance.

“The University Commons Board voted unanimously to have the panels displayed permanently in one of the classrooms where it continues to receive compliments,” Ms. Wasserman informed us. It was a privilege to be a part of this project dedicated to these veterans, to work closely with Enid, and witness how meaningful it was to her to honor these members of her community.